I saw Cloverfield this week and got into a debate about it with a fellow screenwriter. He didn’t care for it because he felt it left too many questions unanswered. Where did the monster come from, what happened afterwards, and other points I won’t bring up to avoid spoilers. Now I’m an admitted fan of Giant Monster Movies, but even then I didn’t have a problem with the unresolved issues. I actually rather liked it.
I heard a screenwriter talk about this issue in a podcast, and he put out that it is somewhat generational. That nowdays younger people are so used to having all the answers at their fingertips, Googling information, texting friends, reading websites, that not being able to find something out just… bothers them. It’s abnormal. I think he’s onto something.
I don’t mind open ended movies. Memento made me think, made me puzzle through things on my own, and led to great conversations after the movie. I rewatched it recently and still don’t have all the answers, but it is just as fun to ponder. It engages me, makes me part of the story. Life rarely comes with neat explanations, and my movies don’t need to either.
It’s important to give a sound finish to the story, to not cheat the audience, and that line can sometimes be fuzzy. Follow your characters and events and you will usually find you say all that you really need to. If there is one all important secret, one valuable tidbit I can give to ending your story, it is to always remember to