Since the beginning of film, the plot twist has been a favorite tool of hundreds of film makers. Most of the time, the twists fail. However, when used properly a good plot twist can make a mediocre movie good. Here’s a look at a few of the best movie plot twists of all time. Warning: spoilers included.
1. The Sixth Sense – M. Night Shamyalan has made a career out of plot twists. They’re now his “trademark,” which means that he probably needs to stop. However, there’s a reason he’s clung to his guns for so long. In his first major movie, The Sixth Sense, the earth-shattering final act turned a decent horror flick into a cultural phenomenon. “There’s no way Bruce Willis is a ghost,” you’d say to yourself, seconds before realizing that Bruce Willis is a ghost.
2. Fight Club – What do Brad Pitt and Edward Norton have in common? Well, everything, apparently. As Fight Club was promoted as a brainless action movie, many movie crowds were shocked to find a very deep plot. Eventually, Pitt turns out to be Norton’s broken, schizophrenic brain. As an audience member, it’s hard to keep up, but that sense of realization when the plot twist kicks in is brilliant. Fight Club was as brilliant as its premise was stupid.
3. Black Christmas – This 1974 movie is the prelude to the modern slasher film. As such, it’s a bit dated if you view it for the first time in 2010. Nevertheless, it’s a thrilling movie that realizes scary things get scarier when you can’t see what’s happening. Part of the mystery that the film builds involves the boyfriend of one of the main characters, who appears exceedingly likely to be the killer. He’s not–but every character in the movie ends up assuming that he is. This leads to his girlfriend killing him, which causes her to be sedated by doctors. She’s left in her house to sleep–with the real killer. The plot twist elevates Black Christmas above similar horror fare. Skip the 2006 remake. This movie should be shown to aspiring horror movie producers as an example of good plot construction.
4. The Crying Game – This is now an infamous movie, written by Neil Jordan. Jaye Davidson plays Dil, who’s everything that main character Fergus could ever want and more. And by “more,” here we mean that Dil has a penis. The audience finds this information out in the same way that Fergus finds it out–through full exposure. It’s a huge plot twist that sets up for a very complex romantic thriller. The scene’s shocking twist is so great that it almost eclipses the rest of the movie, especially among more homophobic crowds.
5. Se7en – A killer is killing people according to the seven deadly sins (get it?). Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman rush for answers, only to find themselves becoming part of the killer’s brilliant plot. Yeah, Se7en is a disgusting, disturbing movie. But it’s well done, and the phenomenal twist ending raises it above the title of “horror movie.” It’s something much deeper, a look at the true nature of vengeance.
What are some of your favorite plot twists? Post in the comments section below.