LONDON - DECEMBER 19:  (UK TABLOID NEWSPAPERS OUT) A film poster is dislayed at the UK premiere of "I Am Legend" at the Odeon Leicester Square on December 19, 2007 in London, England.  (Photo by Claire Greenway/Getty Images)
Movies - TV
I Am Legend Showcases The Folly Of Not Using The Greatest Horror Ending Of All Time
Many great horror movies based on novels stray far from the source material, with adaptations like “The Mist” or “The Shining” proving a film doesn’t need to remain faithful to be great. However, 2007’s “I Am Legend” would have benefited from following Richard Matheson’s novel more closely, as the film waters down the story’s themes and changes its memorable, thought-provoking ending.
Both stories follow lone survivor Robert Neville as he fights against the vampire-like creatures in the post-apocalyptic world. While the movie makes smaller changes earlier in the story, a major difference comes from the exclusion of the book’s intelligent, sentient creatures capable of speech, choosing to only portray the vampires as animalistic monsters.
The movie opts to introduce human survivors, Anna and Ethan, at the cost of the character Ruth from the novel, whom Neville initially suspects might be a vampire and later forms a romantic bond with. Ruth confirms his suspicion, and the book ends when Neville is captured by the intelligent vampires and sentenced to death for crimes against them — realizing that to them, he is the monster.
A far cry from the novel, the movie ends with Neville sacrificing his life to save the others by using a grenade to kill the attacking vampires, cementing his legacy as a hero instead. Many deem the film’s alternate ending superior, as it briefly touches on the creatures’ capability of intelligence, but it still doesn’t deliver this revelation nearly as powerfully as the novel.