Murder, the cessation of a life, can make for the ultimate storytelling tool; whether carved into a story in a bloody splash or the catalyst to a multitude of other events, murder is found in some of the greatest of stories. What do Game of Thrones and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre have in common?
That’s right — they both have strong female leads. Oh, right, and practically everyone dies. You start to lose count after a while. Murder in film can be messy, cheesy, heartbreaking, classy, and it can even be — for lack of a better word — funny.
Sometimes we cry when a character is erased by way of the writer’s pen, and sometimes a death on screen can be unnervingly satisfying and cathartic — despite what morality and real life logic might say. So which movies did it best? Which films slay, kill, murder, and massacre in the most effective, horrifying, or heartbreaking way? Let’s take a look.
1. The Shining
The Shining is easily one of the scariest films in existence, but it also manages to be a high quality movie as well. The Shining is the opposite of the Saw films — all blood and gore and shock value. It’s not that The Shining doesn’t have it’s fair share of blood and nastiness — but the way the film is bizarrely and uniquely shot, the location used, the acting, and the writing are what make it truly terrifying.
Jack and his family arrive to act as caretakers of the giant old Overlook Hotel, which has a rather unfortunate history. Jack then proceeds to slowly go crazy and begin sinking into old problems with alcohol, while young Danny becomes creepier and creepier as his “shining” gift reveals more and more about the hotel. Before you say it, yes, both Wendy and Danny Torrance escape from good ol’ Jacky boy when he finally snaps — but you know who doesn’t? Dick Hallorann, the friendly chef who is called to for help near the end of film. We love Dick, he’s a fellow shiner, and he treks all the way out there, putting himself in danger, to try to save people he hardly knows. Jack kills him with an axe in the hotel lobby. Ouch.
It is then that we really know that the film has hit it’s culminating point. We have little Danny writing Redrum on the wall, which reversed is of course Murder. In the novel version of The Shining, Dick doesn’t die, but in the film his murder finalizes the transformation of the already terrifying Jack. Jack becomes more than just a madman — he becomes a killer, and it’s Dick’s sacrifice in bringing the Snowcat to the hotel that allows mother and son to escape.