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Never Before Seen Alternate Endings That Completely Change Your Favorite Films
You already know the ending of a film can make or break the entire flick. Who wants to sit through an incredible film, only to watch a crummy ending? You may not know it, but movie endings are usually well tested before they ever reach real commercial audiences.
Alternative endings are usually scrapped because they lack broad appeal, but sometimes those endings are just as fascinating, unsettling or thought-provoking as the final versions that play in theaters. Which version is better? Check out these fascinating alternate movie endings that would have completely changed your favorite films and decide for yourself. (Tons of spoilers ahead!)
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)
In Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010), Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) attempts to navigate romance and life woes. He dates high schooler Knives Chau (Ellen Wong) before falling for Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). The catch? Before he can date Ramona, he must kill seven of her evil exes — all of whom have supernatural abilities.
To stay true to the Scott Pilgrim novels, the film ends with Knives abandoning her pursuit of Scott and encouraging him to go after Ramona. However, the film originally ended with Scott getting back with Knives after bonding over a video game.
Get Out (2017)
Jordan Peele’s Get Out (2016) had horror fans shaken across the globe. The thriller genre applied a cinematically devastating edge to the issues of race, police and social justice. You couldn’t help but feel relieved when Chris Washington’s (Daniel Kaluuya) friend stepped out of that cop car, right?
Although the ending of the film is fairly positive, a devastating conclusion was originally in the works. The footage has the actual cops arriving after Chris escaped from his girlfriend’s family’s horrifying home. Rather than taking pity on a traumatized Chris, they arrest him for the murders of everyone inside.
The Butterfly Effect (2004)
In The Butterfly Effect (2004), Evan Treborn (Ashton Kutcher), a college student with violent migraines, finds out he has the ability to time travel. Using his journals as guides, he induces blackouts to return to the past to prevent trauma in his and his friends’ lives.
The film ends with Evan altering the past to ensure he doesn’t become long-term neighbors with his closest childhood friend, Kayleigh, in order to spare her a tragic future. In one unsettling alternate ending, Evan travels back to before his birth and strangles himself in the womb to prevent himself from causing harm in the future. Yikes!
In Rocky (1976), boxing champion Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) agrees to fight the unknown Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) after his opponent for the heavyweight championship is injured. Throughout the film, Rocky trains for the fight of his life and finds love with Adrian (Talia Shire).
Rocky pours his heart and soul into the fight, ultimately surviving 15 rounds in the ring and becoming one of the most beloved movie characters of all time. In an alternate ending, Rocky takes a bribe to throw the fight and uses the money to help Adrian open a pet shop — definitely not an ending for winning the hearts of America.
In Heathers (1988), Jason Dean (Christian Slater) shakes up his high school when he begins murdering fellow students and staging their deaths as suicides. The film centers on the Heathers, including an honorary Heather, Veronica Sawyer (Winona Ryder), who aids JD’s crime spree. The dramatic conclusion consists of JD blowing himself up on the school’s front lawn.
Later, Veronica asks Martha, a friend she abandoned for the sake of popularity, to hang out during prom. In a dark alternate ending, Martha stabs Veronica while screaming obscenities in a dramatic plot twist. The movie ends with Veronica yelling, “My name’s not Heather!”
Paranormal Activity (2007)
While expectations for Paranormal Activity (2007) were fairly low, the horror film captivated audiences worldwide. The flick comes to a boil when the possessed protagonist, Katie (Katie Featherston), leaves the bedroom and yells for her husband from downstairs — where she’s waiting to kill him.
In the film, Katie murders her husband, drags his body upstairs and chucks him at the camera. Then, she rushes at the lens herself. The alternate ending includes murder, only without the body throw. Instead, Katie approaches the camera alone. Staring at the lens, she slits her own throat with a kitchen knife. Yikes!
Fatal Attraction (1987)
The ending to Fatal Attraction (1987) was pretty intense. The film centers around Dan Gallagher (Michael Douglas) and the brief affair he has with editor Alex Forrest (Glenn Close). As Dan attempts to protect his family, his wife, Beth (Anne Archer), becomes aware of Dan’s affair and his crazy stalker.
The film ends with Beth shooting Alex in self-defense in her bathroom. However, the original ending consisted of Alex killing herself and framing Dan for her murder. When the script was rewritten, Close was furious, believing that committing suicide to ruin Dan’s life was more like her character (and psychologists agreed).
Titanic (1997) is a love story set in a terrible place, namely aboard a ship doomed to sink. As debutante Rose DeWitt Bukater (Kate Winslet) falls in love with third-class passenger Jack Dawson, the two become entangled in a romance that is doomed to die with the Titanic.
The film ends on an emotional note with Rose dropping the coveted Heart of the Ocean necklace into the sea as she stares out at the waves that swallowed her love. The original ending included a lengthy speech about the pricelessness of life, ending with Rose hurling the necklace into the sea. Not as touching.
Alien (1979) tops the charts of alien flicks. The film features a group of astronauts attempting to kill an alien that has infiltrated their ship, Nostromo . Weaver’s character, Ellen Ripley, eventually escapes the Nostromo in a pod, unaware that the alien has hopped aboard.
In the theatrical conclusion, Ripley overpowers and blasts the alien into space, remaining on course for Earth. However, director Ridley Scott envisioned a more disturbing ending for the film. He wanted the alien to kill Ripley and mimic her voice to communicate with the space station that she was returning.
Little Shop of Horrors (1986)
In Little Shop of Horrors (1986), overzealous Seymour (Rick Moranis) decides to take on the responsibility of a massive, people-eating plant that he names Audrey II (after his gorgeous crush). Throughout the movie-musical, Seymour attempts to win the love of Audrey (Ellen Greene) while feeding Audrey II flesh, blood and people.
At the film’s end, Seymour finds out that Audrey II is an alien lifeform and kills her with electricity. The original ending had Audrey II consuming Seymour alive. After his death, mini-Audrey II’s were distributed across the world, but test audiences found this ending grotesque.
Interstellar (2014) is full of striking visuals and has a killer score and tons of emotional moments as Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) tries to save planet Earth from climate change. After traveling through wormholes, Cooper is able to communicate with his daughter on Earth and send her his data.
At the end of the film, Cooper miraculously survives the collapse of a fifth-dimensional tesseract. He sets off into the multi-dimensional landscape of outer space, hoping to reach his now-elderly daughter on Earth. A profound alternate ending called for the tesseract to collapse around Cooper, sending his data back to Earth while killing him.
The Shining (1980)
Who could forget the iconic final shot of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (1980)? The thriller ends when Danny escapes to safety with his mother, Wendy (Shelley Duvall), and Jack freezes to death in the maze. The final shot focuses on Jack’s smiling face featured in a photograph in the hotel — taken in 1921. Spooky.
The original ending packed a less powerful punch. Two additional minutes were devoted to a hospital scene where audiences were assured that Danny and Wendy had, in fact, survived The Overlook. Kubrick realized the scene lessened the impact of the closing and scrapped it.
Stephen King’s 1408 (2007) is one of the best book-to-screen adaptations. In the film, author Mike Enslin (John Cusack) hunkers down in a paranormal hotel room (#1408) in a notoriously haunted hotel. Despite warnings from staffers not to rent the room, Mike insists, hoping to debunk the tales of the room’s ghostly activity.
Of course, the room is haunted, and at the end, a desperate Mike burns the room to the ground. He is saved by firefighters and reunited with his wife. However, in an alternate version, Mike tragically burns in the room and joins his deceased daughter in the afterlife.
The Lion King (1994)
The Lion King (1994) is based on William Shakespeare’s beloved tragedy Hamlet — only with lions instead of people. In the movie, Simba loses his father because of his scheming uncle, runs away with a warthog and a meerkat for several years and then returns to reclaim his kingdom with Nala at his side.
In the film, Scar is killed by his followers (the hyenas) after betraying them. Simba’s and Nala’s cub is presented to the kingdom, restarting the circle of life. In the original ending, the former circle ended with Scar falling into the flames of the fire and burning to death.
E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) follows the adventures of a stranded alien in suburban California and his new friend, a child named Elliott (Henry Thomas). When E.T. becomes sick on Earth, Elliott must help him return to his ship to go home.
The final scene consists of E.T. saying his goodbyes to Elliott before walking on to his ship and jetting off into space in an array of colors. The original concept for the conclusion would have provided more closure for Elliott by showing scenes of him playing with friends and adapting to life after E.T.
A Quiet Place (2018)
The haunting premise of John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place (2018) took audiences by storm. The film follows parents Lee and Evelyn Abbott (John Krasinski and Emily Blunt) as they try to protect their children, Regan (Millicent Simmonds) and Marcus (Noah Jupe) from noise-hungry creatures who hunt their prey using sound.
Throughout the film, the Abbotts employ creative tactics to survive. After Lee sacrifices himself, Evelyn successfully lures, shoots and kills one monster, bringing an end to their terror. Krasinski originally wanted a more gruesome, less happy ending, but he, fortunately, saved that for his mind.
I Am Legend (2007)
In I Am Legend (2007), esteemed scientist Robert Neville (Will Smith) is attempting to find a cure for an infection that has turned humans into killer mutants. Using his plague-resistant blood as a baseline for his research, Neville also searches for fellow survivors.
In the end, he passes his cure off to two survivors and blows himself up to kill a batch of invading mutants. One proposed ending had Neville realize the mutants view him as the monster and are really civil creatures desiring peace. The thought-provoking ending didn’t make the cut.
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
The refreshing humor, quirky characters, stellar soundtrack and epic cast make Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) a universal hit. At the end of the film, Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) and the Guardians are successful in saving the universe, and the gang montages to “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.”
In the final scene, Quill opens a gift from his mother — a new mixtape of her favorite songs. Director James Gunn admits that he cut out Quill’s grandfather to keep the ending happy. The original conclusion showed that Quill’s grandfather was still waiting for him to come home.
National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983)
In National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983), the Griswolds head across the country to spend a fun-filled day at Walley World. Unfortunately, when they arrive — after a disaster-filled car trip — the park is closed for repairs. At the end, Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) holds the Walley World security guard at BB gunpoint and demands he open the rides.
They all — including the guard — end up having a blast. In the original script, Clark tracks down the address of Ron Walley himself and holds him at gunpoint, demanding he open the park for his family. Way too dark for a comedy, right?
Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (1983)
Return of the Jedi’s jolly conclusion included the explosion of the Death Star, the rebels celebrating with the Ewoks and Luke receiving spiritual visits from his former mentors. Many fans felt the uplifting ending too starkly contrasted with the former films in the trilogy.
Maybe unhappy fans would have preferred Lucas’ original conclusion that included Han Solo (Harrison Ford) dying at the end of the film. This would have led Leia to become an independent leader and left Luke to deal with his traumas alone. Although Ford was thrilled to play out the tragic ending, Lucas decided to go with an optimistic ending.
Pretty Woman (1990)
In this Cinderella story, hooker Vivian Ward (Julia Roberts) captures the attention of Edward Lewis (Richard Gere) on one of his business trips. After hiring her for the weekend, Edward starts to develop a real connection with Vivian, ultimately cultivating a romance that runs far deeper than either of them expected.
This wasn’t the narrative in the original script. At the end of the original draft, Vivian simply receives payment for her services and ends up back on the streets doing drugs, while Edward remains a lonely businessman. Love couldn’t save either of them.
Dawn of the Dead (1978)
Dawn of the Dead is an OG zombie apocalypse film set in Pennsylvania. A group of ragtag citizens attempts to survive and fight the undead (and a biker gang) from inside a local shopping mall.
At the film’s end, the two protagonists, Francine (Gaylen Ross) and Peter (Ken Foree), flee the infested mall in a partially fueled helicopter. It was actually far more optimistic than one of the alternate endings, which called for a desperate Francine and Peter to take their own lives rather than succumb to the zombie hoard.
Pretty in Pink (1986)
In John Hughes’ Pretty in Pink (1986), wallflower student Andie Walsh (Molly Ringwald) is stunned when popular Blane McDonagh (Andrew McCarthy) asks her out. As she falls head over heels and leaves her nerdy best friend Duckie (Jon Cryer) behind, she faces the challenges of dating the socially elite.
At the end of the film, Andie must choose between Duckie or Blane, and she ultimately ditches Duckie in the friend zone — breaking his young heart. The original ending had Andie choosing Duckie, which would have pleased many fans who thought he should get his chance with the girl of his dreams.
In Orphan , Kate (Vera Farmiga) and John (Peter Sarsgaard) decide to adopt a child after losing an unborn baby. After adopting an orphan named Esther, the couple discovers she is actually a middle-aged woman with hypopituitarism, giving her a youthful appearance.
Once Esther is found out, she attempts to slaughter the family. A bitter fight with Kate leads to Esther drowning in a freezing lake. In an alternate ending, Kate and her kids flee the house before Esther can kill them, and Esther tricks the police into believing she’s an innocent little girl who needs help.
In the 1995 mystery Seven , Detective William Somerset (Morgan Freeman) and David Mills (Brad Pitt) are on the hunt for a serial killer (Kevin Spacey) who chooses his victims based on the seven deadly sins. David’s wife, Tracy, (Gwyneth Paltrow) becomes an unlikely target.
At the end of the movie, the killer puts Tracy’s head in a cardboard box for the detectives to unpack. After realizing the killer murdered Tracy, David shoots him — just as the killer wanted him to do. The studio found this conclusion atrocious and pushed for an alternate ending with a family dog in the box instead.
My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997)
In My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997), Julianne (Julia Roberts) attempts to wreck the wedding of her childhood best buddy, Michael (Dermot Mulroney) after she realizes she’s in love with him. She spends the movie trying (and failing) to put a stop to his wedding.
In the end, she fails and dances with her gay friend, George (Rupert Everett), at the reception. This ending was only written after test audiences complained about the original conclusion. The original cast a glimmer of hope on Julianne’s future by pairing her with an attractive wedding guest for the dance — but the audience wanted her to suffer.
The Birds (1963)
In The Birds (1963), Melanie Daniels (Tippi Hedren) pursues Mitch Brenner (Rod Taylor) by gifting him two lovebirds. Ironically, San Francisco is soon swarmed by a hoard of vicious birds. The citizens try to survive the terrifying attacks, unsure what caused them.
At the end of the original flick, a swarm of birds breaks into Melanie’s house and mortally wounds her. Mitch insists they take her to the hospital, but to reach help, they must drive through a terrifying landscape filled with birds. An alternate final shot showed the Golden Gate Bridge completely covered in birds.
Donnie Darko (2001)
In Donnie Darko (2001), teenager Donnie Darko (Jake Gyllenhaal) is greeted in his quasi-dreamscape by a massive, demonic rabbit who claims the world is ending in 28 days. The oddball film follows Donnie’s 28-day descent into madness.
In the end, he wakes up in his room on October 2nd (the day the film began) and gets crushed by a jet engine. This film is dark, with or without an alternative ending. Could it have been darker? Absolutely. An original cut showed Donnie getting impaled by a piece of the plane in an unnecessarily graphic scene.
The Princess Diaries (2001)
In The Princess Diaries (2001), San Francisco high schooler Mia Thermopolis (Anne Hathaway) finds out that she is heir to the throne of Genovia. Her grandmother, Queen Clarisse Renaldi (Julie Andrews), attempts to turn the geeky American girl into princess material.
This film’s final theatrical ending is a pretty sweet story. It ended with Mia agreeing to become a princess. However, when director Garry Marshall watched the film with his five-year-old granddaughter, she was disappointed that she didn’t get to see Mia’s castle. Marshall talked to Disney and got them to add the castle into the final film in an alternate ending.
Clue (1985) was meant to mirror the board game of the same name: multiple possibilities for killers, weapons, crime scenes and motives. As a result, the filmmakers filmed and released multiple endings with different killers and victims defining each conclusion.
Originally, audiences weren’t sure what ending they would be seeing when they went to the theater. There were three possibilities for solving the crime at the end of each version of the film. Fortunately, theaters began to clarify which ending (A, B, or C) they would be showing in order to save their audiences some money.
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I have seen the unrated cut of paranormal activity the ghost dimension, and the alternative ending really confuses me. Toby seems to be defeated and Leila goes back to normal? Then sometime later we see the Fleege family moving into another house, when we see Leila with young Katie and Kristi? Ryan, Emily and Mike should be aware of who Katie and Kristi is, since they saw the tapes from 1992, but they don't really react to it. Then later we see Leila celebrating her birthday, and then we see Emily is pregnant? Then we see Kent there? And Ryan and Emily don't pay it any attention? Even though they are familiar with him from the tapes? Can someone please explain the alternative ending to me, it's really been bothering me for a while.
Well after Toby was destroyed and it must be when his power was destroyed as well And it storing all of the people Toby possessed and Kristi Was brought back to life again but the saddest thing she's once a kid again but she has no memory of her husband or her son or her daughter And it is kind of sad she has to grow up in 2013 because do when her grandma ruined her childhood and everything and Kristi we'll have to live a normal life in 2013 now
What do you think?
Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension (Exclusive Unrated + Alternate Ending)
For the first time you will SEE the activity in this all-new UNRATED cut, featuring a digital exclusive alternate ending only on Microsoft Movies & TV! When a new family moves into Katie and Kristi’s former house, they discover a mysterious video camera that reveals the presence an ancient evil that begins to terrorize their lives. Now, with their young daughter’s soul in danger.
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Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension Exclusive Unrated + Bonus Content
Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension (Exclusive Unrated w/Alternate Ending + Bonus)
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For the first time you will SEE the activity in this all-new UNRATED cut, featuring a digital exclusive alternate ending only on Microsoft Movies & TV! When a new family moves into Katie and Kristi’s former house, they discover a mysterious video camera that reveals the presence an ancient evil that begins to terrorize their lives. Now, with their young daughter’s soul in danger, they must fight back against this demonic threat before becoming its next victims in the latest chapter of the groundbreaking horror franchise.
Cast and crew
Chris J. Murray
Olivia Taylor Dudley
Jessica Tyler Brown
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About the alternate ending *SPOILERS*
I didn't really understand what happened. Instead of going through the ghost dimension, it fast-forwards to 4 months later where they've moved to a new house. They find one last tape but destroy it, then suddenly Katie and Kristy are there. End scene. Then cut to Leila's birthday and the mom is pregnant and the weird teacher guy from the tapes is there and the parents don't even seem to care. The end. Wtf? So did they get brainwashed into the cult? I have no idea what they were going for. Any ideas?
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Yeah, it just didn't make any sense at all, ponytail, Katie and Kristi were in 1992 but now they're in 2013? The point of it all was that they were in 1992 and opened a door into 2013 and sent Toby to the fleege residence which was the Featherston residence before it was burned down, that's how Toby knew Kristi was going to have Hunter when she was just a child, he clearly sees the past, present and future simultaneously, and after he is brought into our world via physical body this erases the other movies, making him human in 2006. But the alternate ending ruins everything, the only interesting thing was how Emily's pregnancy could be foreshadowing another 'Marked Ones' or she was going to give birth to antichrist baby?
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I can see why they didn't use this ending, this ending could have been a cliff hanger for another film. But I think the studio probably said hell no lets this finish this series once and for all and probably made them shoot the ending we have where Toby become human, defeats everyone and gets Leila.
My only take on it (and it doesn't totally gel or make the end make much more sense) is that after Tobi was banished, his hold over everyone was broken and smashing that last tape somehow freed the girls souls and they appeared briefly with Leila. Then that Kent (teacher guy) returned to where it all began and tracked them down to give himself some peace and say he was sorry for his part in it and became friends with the family. Hey it's the best I can come up with haha.
Hmm, I guess that makes more sense, more sense than the original ending anyway... Or maybe the entire neighbourhood was brainwashed by the Coven and the mother was carrying Kent's demon spawn? But I doubt the parents would of forgiven him so easily, everything they were put through was because of him, and they would of had him arrested, that's IF they weren't somehow indoctrinated into the Coven. But yeah, both endings have 0 logic.
Haha yes, when we are left making up stuff to try make sense of it, it's probably not a good thing even if I sorta enjoy it. The main failing of the series, which I actually do like, is that it seemed like it was going somewhere where it'd all come together, but then it just ended lacking the cohesion many of us probably hoped for. Love 'em or hate 'em, at least the 7 'Saw' movies tied themselves together pretty damn well in that regard, I hoped for similar here.
One of the earlier movies, #2 or #3, said that the families get brainwashed into forgetting what really happened. Both the adult versions of Katie and Kristy have faint memories of what they went through as kids. Yes, the demon was banished or something, but I suppose that he somehow imprinted part of himself on to the videotapes as a way of maintaining his presence. Kind of like the Harry Potter thing where Voldemort put part of his soul into certain objects, so that even if his body is destroyed, part of him remains, which gave him a chance to return. Also a bit like The Ring, where the girl put herself in the videotapes to spread her influence to larger areas. Or, the writers came up with it because the entire series had bullsh!t scenes that made no sense, so adding one more couldn't harm the story. Most deleted/alternate scenes are there just to pad out a lack of content .
Hmm, sure, I guess that works.
One of the earlier movies, #2 or #3, said that the families get brainwashed into forgetting what really happened. Both the adult versions of Katie and Kristy have faint memories of what they went through as kids. Yes, the demon was banished or something, but I suppose that he somehow imprinted part of himself on to the videotapes as a way of maintaining his presence. Kind of like the Harry Potter thing where Voldemort put part of his soul into certain objects, so that even if his body is destroyed, part of him remains, which gave him a chance to return. Also a bit like The Ring, where the girl put herself in the videotapes to spread her influence to larger areas. Or, the writers came up with it because the entire series had bullsh!t scenes that made no sense, so adding one more couldn't harm the story. Most deleted/alternate scenes are there just to pad out a lack of content.
You just said that. xD Some sort of error on your end?
How paranormal activity 6 ended (& how it set up the next movie).
Will the forthcoming Paranormal Activity 7 follow the sixth movie's shocking twist, or will the found footage series follow a new storyline?
Paranormal Activity 6: The Ghost Dimension finally revealed the demon that plagued countless characters throughout the series, but how did the movie end and did the outing set up the upcoming Paranormal Activity 7 ? Released in 2007, found footage sensation Paranormal Activity was a huge hit upon arrival in cinemas. Praised by industry figures like Steven Spielberg, the horror movie saw a pair of suburbanites haunted by an unseen force over a few long nights.
The original Paranormal Activity was massively successful thanks to its slow-burn thrills, which paired long stretches of empty silence with sudden jump scares that shocked even the most hardened horror viewers. Unfortunately, as the franchise wore on, this technique became somewhat overfamiliar and the movies lost a lot of their novelty value thanks to a slew of rip-offs. Later sequels started to incorporate more complex lore but, despite gradually worsening critical write-ups, the Paranormal Activity franchise made the admirable decision to stay lo-fi through to its final movie.
Related: How Paranormal Activity Became The Most Profitable Horror Movie Ever Made
Of course, the massive profit margins may have had something to do with the movies eschewing CGI in favor of smaller-scale (and therefore cheaper) shocks. However, by 2015, the series was coming to a close thanks to diminishing returns, and the last entry of the franchise finally unveiled the demon that remained unseen throughout previous installments. Thanks to the success of its emerging replacement The Conjuring franchise, the film's needed to finally depict its central evil onscreen and so 2015’s Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension featured a memorable CGI demon along with some trippy, Poltergeist -inspired dimension-hopping visuals. This late foray into fantasy horror did not sit well with some viewers, but the movie at least offered a (somewhat muddled) explanation for the demon’s origin and motives. So, with the seventh Paranormal Activity already filmed, can the franchise pick up where it left off in the next outing?
Paranormal Activity's Demon Toby Explained
Introduced as early as the original Paranormal Activity but not seen clearly until The Ghost Dimension , Toby is the demon central to the events of the entire series. Named by Paranormal Activity ’s Katie, Toby is not the entity’s real name but rather what the children who interact with the being call it (not unlike The Shining ’s Tony ). Every movie demon is different, and the specific modus operandi employed by Toby is unclear for almost the entirety of the franchise. However, during the final movie’s events, his plan becomes clear; Toby was promised a human body by a coven of witches in the 1930s, and ever since he has haunted the house they inhabited while the descendants of the coven produced only female offspring for generations.
These descendants included Paranormal Activity ’s Katy and Paranormal Activity 3 ’s Kristi, both of whom were approached by Toby. The demon acted as an initially pleasant imaginary friend (albeit one with a bad habit of setting up jump scares), before finally unveiling the extent of his powers late in each outing. Many characters across the series, including Katie in the original Paranormal Activity ’s infamous ending, fall victim to demonic possession when Toby temporarily takes control of their bodies. However, the entity can’t keep them under his spell for long. In the absence of a male host, the demon needs a drop of blood from an innocent child to gain human form—which is where the events of Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension come into play.
How Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension Ended
Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension introduces a new family (father Ryan, mother Emily, uncle Mike and friend Skylar) to proceedings. The brood is disturbed by their young daughter Leila’s friendship with an imaginary friend whose name is worryingly familiar for Paranormal Activity fans. Once Leila strikes up a conversation with Toby, it is only a matter of time before her parents are doomed to die, but credit where it is due, Leila’s parents do call in an exorcist, facilitating a late-stage genre switch into religious horror during the finale of The Ghost Dimension . The attempts to exorcise Toby from their home seem to work, but moments later Skylar kills Mike and soon dies herself, and Leila’s dad dies shortly after as he is skewered by a demon arm. Leila hides in her room, where a portal she drew for Toby to pass through allows her and Emily to enter the eponymous Ghost Dimension.
Related: Found Footage Horror Movies Work For One Simple Reason
Once the pair pass through the tunnel, it becomes clear the Ghost Dimension is the same house circa 1992, where a young Katie greets the duo. Under the demon’s spell, Leila offers her blood and successfully summons Toby. Emily pleads with the now-human demon to let her child go and gets her neck broken for her troubles, leading to the creepy final shot of the movie. As the horror movie’s credits roll, Leila and Toby (seen only from the knees down) walk off hand in hand. The demon’s lengthy plan has been an unqualified success (albeit one that took numerous movies to set up and pull off).
How The Ghost Dimension Might Set Up Paranormal Activity 7
According to series producer Jason Blum, the next Paranormal Activity sequel is already shot. This has led fans to wonder how this outing will follow on from the last movie, whose ending leaves a lot of avenues open for the franchise. With Toby human and alive in 1992, it stands to reason his success undoes the events of the original Paranormal Activity movies, retconning the entire series. Toby won’t be home to haunt the house as a demon now he has a human body, meaning none of the earlier movies will happen in the timeline established by the movie’s ending.
Horror movie sequels have always been tricky business, as bringing back defeated villains can smack of desperation, but establishing a new antagonist often leaves viewers wanting more from their old favorite. However, Paranormal Activity 7 will have a uniquely helpful starting point thanks to the ending of Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension . Since the sixth movie undid the events of nearly every earlier outing, it can begin anew without having to explain its new timeline, meaning different versions of established characters can crop up or new threats can be established without fans being lost in confounding canon.
More: Paranormal Activity's Original Ending Explained (& Why It Changed)
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Paranormal Activity's Alternate Endings Change Everything
At their core, found footage movies attempt to adopt a verisimilitude of their own making, whether it's actually trying to make people believe it's real or not. They're inherently built upon the foundation that what we're about to see is the result of something bad that's happened to the people behind the camera, and we're the sickos watching it all unfold. "Cannibal Holocaust" and "The McPherson Tape" act as the genesis of this long-lasting subgenre, and are ultimately found footage in its purest form, but it's "The Blair Witch Project" that popularized the subgenre to the mainstream. Better yet, it helped that these films existed in an era where you actually had a chance of fooling people that they were real. You didn't quite know where the movie was going, but chances were good that it wasn't going to be a happy ending. This is where "Paranormal Activity" comes in.
The little home movie that could, "Paranormal Activity" was a phenomenon when it scared movie audiences in 2009. It made a monumental $193 million on a minuscule budget of $15,000, according to The Wrap , and helped usher in a new era for found footage. They even had an entire marketing campaign dedicated to making audiences demand that it come to theaters in their respective area. From there, the series would produce over $900 million through five sequels and an outlier for Paramount+ that's really a "Paranormal Activity" movie in name only. It's strange to think of a subgenre that usually results in a bummer ending forming enough of a long and complicated mythology to keep these characters coming back.
In case you need a refresher, "Paranormal Activity" stars then-unknown talents Katie Featherston and Micah Sloat as a couple who begin to experience the rumblings going on at night in their San Diego home. Believing that they're being haunted by a spiritual entity, Micah sets up a camera in the bedroom to record any possible bumps in the night. As the night terrors get progressively worse, so does the capacity for this couple to deal with whatever's happening to them, revealing that their haunting may not be as random as they believe. As the series goes forward, it unfurls the legacy of Katie's family and their ties to a demon that the series refers to as "Tobi." But at one point, there's a chance that this horror sensation might have been a one-off due to its ending.
The theatrical ending
The ending of "Paranormal Activity" that most people are familiar with is the one that was released with the film during its initial wide release. On the penultimate night of the story, Katie is pulled from her bed by nothing, as the door slams shut behind her. Micah immediately wakes up and rushes out to save her, while Katie's piercing screams echo throughout the hall. When taking a moment to see if she's alright, Micah notices a large bite mark on Katie's back. She insists she's alright, and the next night proves that is far from the truth.
On the final recorded night, Katie wakes up in a trance, giving the impression that she's been possessed by the demon that's been taunting them. She proceeds to get out of bed and stare at Micah sleeping for about two hours before going downstairs. Katie lets out a bloodcurdling scream that prompts Micah to rush out of bed and run to her aide. He asks her what's going on before he lets out a yell and presumably falls to the ground. And in the film's most memorable moment, we sit in silence for nearly a full minute before Katie flings Micah out of the pitch-black hallway and into the camera, knocking it over. She hovers over his lifeless body before lunging at the camera herself, showing that she has indeed been possessed by the demon that's been giving them grief throughout the entire film. A closing text reads that Micah's body was found 3 days later and that Katie has disappeared.
With that, you have an open hook for potential sequels, and sequels there were. It's still an effective closer that gives us one incredible jolt of a jump scare after so many nights of a small thud or a door slam sprinkled here and there. The person truly responsible for turning this indie horror film into a long-running franchise is not the film's director Oren Peli, but the legendary Steven Spielberg , who wasn't a fan of the original ending. Just like that, Spielberg convinced Paramount to provide Peli with $4,000 to come up with another ending before release. Needless to say, if "Paranormal Activity" had retained any of its other alternative endings, we would be talking about this film very differently.
The alternate endings
There are essentially three alternate finales, only two of which were actually shot. Either way, the film retains the basic components of Katie's possession on that final night throughout all of them. According to Entertainment Weekly , the unfilmed ending would have seen Katie picking up the camera and bashing Micah's face in with it. It sounds like it would have made for an abruptly gory conclusion; one that doesn't exactly fit with the film's minimalist tone.
The second alternative ending , which is what Spielberg saw, sees Katie come upstairs after presumably killing Micah. She sits beside the bed, cradling herself back and forth into the next day. You can hear her friend Amber coming to check in on them, only to scream in horror at the discovery of Micah's body. About a half-hour later, two police officers enter the home and find Katie. Upon shining their flashlights at her, she appears to wake up out of her disoriented trance and asks where Micah is. But because she's holding the bloodied knife as she approaches them, she's predictably shot dead. It's a pretty sad conclusion that doesn't give Katie the autonomy to explain what happened, and feels more in line with what you might expect to see from watching actual disturbing home footage.
The third alternative ending is perhaps the most chilling. After Micah gets stabbed downstairs, you hear the faint footsteps of Katie getting louder as she ascends the darkened stairs. Once she enters the room, she pauses for a moment and turns around to close the door. She then stands right in front of the camera, and with the most bone-chilling smile on her face, uses the knife to slit her throat. There's something so unsettling about the silence afterward, as it sinks in that this demon merely wanted to violate this couple's life for funsies before disposing of them like a kid who's become bored of their Christmas toys.
Not only do these different paths provide different conclusions to "Paranormal Activity" as a film itself, but their existence of these endings fundamentally alter the core story thread at the heart of what would become the "Paranormal Activity" mythology .
What does this mean for the series?
The main thing to remember about the "Paranormal Activity" movies as a series is that there was no overarching plan to build up to something, only to keep audiences coming back for more however long they could rope them in on opening weekend. In the documentary "Unknown Dimension," which chronicles the history and making of the "Paranormal Activity" series, a common thread throughout involves the creative teams of each sequel admitting that each of these films was still begin written during filming and that they had no predestined plan as to how they would ultimately end. They were essentially making it up as they went along.
The fact that "Paranormal Activity" was able to keep things running that long, before truly falling flat on its face with a lazy attempt at 3-D found footage ( "Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension" ), is kind of impressive. "Paranormal Activity 2" came as a surprise because it slowly revealed itself to be a prequel, focused on Katie's sister Kristi (Sprague Grayden) and her family, before showing what happened to Katie after the events of the first film. And then you have "Paranormal Activity 3," which goes all the way back to 1988 to show Katie and Kristi's childhood, when the hauntings first began.
The basic gist of the first trilogy is that when they were younger, Katie and Kristi were unknowingly inducted into a cult by their grandmother, who offered them both to "Tobi" at a young age to eventually provide him with a male heir to inhabit his body. In the second film, Kristi gives birth to Hunter (Jackson Xenia Prieto), who turns out to be the first male born into the family in ages. Had "Paranormal Activity" been a one-and-done experience, the most we would have gathered is that this entity that's haunting Katie would have been targeting her alone. In the second film, however, it's revealed that because Kristi gave birth to Hunter, she is the focus of the demonic haunting, and the only way to get rid of "Tobi" is to pass it on to Katie. Therefore, the events of the first "Paranormal Activity" are set into motion. But it doesn't matter because the possessed Katie comes back and kills Kristi and her husband before leaving with Hunter into the night.
An encounter with The Marked Ones
Even when the sequels deviate from Katie's immediate family as the sole focus, she still acts as a throughline that gets more and more convoluted as it goes on. "Paranormal Activity 4" tries a switcheroo thing with Hunter, but suffers from poor writing. But "Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones" is where things get interesting. To keep it short, this is the entry that ends with introducing time travel.
The lead characters of "The Marked Ones" end up at the grandmother's home and are attacked by the members of the demon cult. Scared for his life, Hector (Jorge Diaz) runs inside a closet before emerging on the other side in a completely different location. It doesn't take long before we realize that we're in Katie's house right before she kills Micah. For the first time, we get to see what happened downstairs on that fateful night. Confused by what's happening, Hector slowly approaches Katie to ask her where he is, only to send her screaming for Micah. Hector runs as Katie then proceeds to stab Micah in the chest in the kitchen.
The ending to "The Marked Ones" tries to say that the reason Katie snapped is due to the sudden presence of a stranger in her home in the middle of the night. But surely Katie was still possessed by the demon, so we end up with a clever nod to the first film that doesn't entirely come together. But then again, introducing time travel to a format that wants you to believe what you're seeing is real comes with its own set of complications. "Paranormal Activity" could have remained this singular piece of horror, but by relegating its other endings in favor of one with a loose end, it allowed subsequent films to try out new ideas like this, whether they actually worked or not.
All of the "Paranormal Activity" movies and "Unknown Dimension: The Story of Paranormal Activity" are currently streaming on Paramount+.
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