18 Horror Movies Where The Main Character Seemed To Be A Hero But Ended Up A Villain



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Vote up the protagonists whose mean streak took you by surprise.

Sometimes, when a character decides to break bad, you can see it coming a mile away. But sometimes the writer surprises you and leaves you wondering what just happened. Why did these horror heroes go bad? Did it catch you by surprise when they turned to the dark side? 

Here is a look at a few different characters that started their journey as a protagonists, but somewhere along the way, took a wrong turn and became the bad guy. 

Warning: Spoilers  


  • Based on the story “Secret Window, Secret Garden” by Stephen King, the David Koepp-directed thriller plays with the idea of identity and internal pain. In Secret Window, Mort Rainey (Johnny Depp) starts out sympathetic enough. He's a writer in a secluded cabin who misses his ex-wife, with whom he recently separated after he caught her having an affair. After a mysterious, sinister man named Shooter accuses him of stealing one of his stories, things start to go awry for poor Mort. But soon the viewer finds out this man is not what he seems.

    Mort's mind seems have cracked after catching his wife having an affair with his friend, thus creating the persona of Shooter. Shooter is able to carry out the dark deeds Mort cannot, like the murder of his wife and any witnesses.

    At the end, a demented Mort buries his victims in the garden underneath his window, where they make great fertilizer for his corn crops.

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  • "Here's Johnny!"

    The Shining follows the slow descent into madness of a man desperate to get his life back on track is tragic as Jack Nicholson will forever be linked to an isolated hotel, an axe, and an iconic line thank to this Stanley Kubrick film. 

    Jack Torrance (Nicholson) wants to be a good man. He wants to get sober. He wants to finish that great American novel. He wants to get away from all the temptations of the world as the caretaker of a great hotel during the winter and give his family another chance. Unfortunately, the ghosts of the Overlook Hotel have other plans for him and his special son. Thanks to the spirits of the hotel and the isolation of the winter months, Jack slowly loses his mind, turning on his wife Wendy and his son Danny. Eventually, he gives in to his demons and loses his sanity, chasing Wendy and Danny through the Overlook with murderous intent. 

    But the end of the film, Wendy and the boy have escaped, while Jack becomes one with the hotel. 

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  • Marie In 'High Tension'
    Photo: EuropaCorp

    In High Tension, when friends Marie (Cecile de France) and Alex (Maiwenn) take a trip to the countryside to spend a weekend with Alex's family, the trip turns into a nightmare as they are stalked by a serial killer who butchers Alex's family as Marie looks on in horror..

    It looks like the clever Marie is destined to be the last girl standing, thanks to her quick thinking - she quickly hides her things and makes her bed so it looks like no one occupies her guest room. But oh, viewers are in for a much bigger surprise in this gory film when the twist is revealed and it turns out that delicate little Marie was the brutal killer all along. 

    Clearly insane and a victim of her own delusions, Marie's obsession with Alex drove her to extremes, feeding her alter ego and allowing her brutality to grow. In the end, she is locked away for her crimes, screaming Alex's name. 

  • What happens when a mother's love turns to rage, despair, and madness? In The Others, Grace (Nicole Kidman) appears as the doting, overprotective mother to her two children who suffer from a rare condition that make them allergic to sunlight. She wants to protect her photosensitive children as she keeps them in the dark, but soon her concern turns to fear as she suspects her family is haunted by ghosts.

    This gothic thriller sets an eerie mood of dread before revealing that Grace and her children are in fact the ghosts haunting the house and not the victims of a poltergeist. The constant care required by her children and her own growing despair pushed poor Grace over the edge, causing her to kill her children before taking her own life. Now she and her little ones are cursed to walk the halls of their house for all of eternity, keeping new tenants away from their abode. 

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  • Sometimes the bad guy hides in plain sight. That's the case with Us, directed by Jordan Peele. Adelaide (Lupita Nyong'o) appears to be the sweet, innocent victim of a home invasion. As a mother and wife, Adelaide does everything she can to protect her family from the evil doppelgängers that have invaded her home. 

    But not so fast. As it turns out, Adelaide is really part of a failed experiment by the government to clone humanity. Unfortunately, they fail to clone the soul, creating a host of sociopaths. When she was a child, the real Adelaide discovered her clone, who switched places with her. The Adelaide audiences have been following has been the clone all along, while the real Adelaide was forced to grow up in an underground hell hole. 

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  • In David Cronenberg's genius remake of The Fly, Seth Brundle's misfortune and character change is true tragedy, since it happens because of a terrible accident, but Jeff Goldblum's performance is stellar, as is his chemistry with Veronica "Ronnie" Quaife, played by Geena Davis.  

    As Seth slowly evolves more and more into a terrifying creature and sheds his humanity, he begins to lose his reason and his sanity. Slowly, his combined DNA with that of a common house insect degenerates him into a monster right before the audience's eyes. By the end of the film, all rational is gone as he attempts to combine his DNA with that of Ronnie and her unborn baby. 

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