TOP 5: PLOT TWISTS THAT SHOCKED US

“He was dead the whole time!?”

“That was his dad the whole time!?”

“That was his sister the whole time!?…Wait, ewwww”

Us cinema-goers love a good twist. They can anger us, confuse us, and sometimes even disgust us. They energize an audience, stimulate many a post movie discussion, and spark furious debate among friends. And sure, cinema has its fair share of dud twists you saw coming a mile away, but every once in a while, a filmmaker manages to masterfully sweep the rug out from under you and make you shout at the screen in disbelief. Those are the twists worth remembering for how utterly shocking they were the first time you saw them.

Before we get into the countdown proper, lets acknowledge some of the kick ass movie twists that didn’t quite make the final cut.

Honorable Mentions

Planet of the Apes (1968)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XvuM3DjvYf0

Saw (2004)

Memento (2000)

5

TIE: The Dark Knight (2008) & Psycho (1960)

Not all plot twists have to occur in the third act. Cases in point: Christopher Nolan’s white knuckle thrill ride, The Dark Knight and Alfred Hitchcock’s masterstroke of suspense, Psycho.

Right off the Bat (pun most definitely intended) we know Heath Ledger’s character is an agent of chaos in the The Dark Knight, so the audience should be under no impression that any character in the the film is safe. But  its safe to say when love interest Rachel Dawes is blown away at the end of the second act, its a tad unexpected. The twist works so well because it goes against every rule in the blockbuster handbook, and you can almost hear screenwriter Jonathon Nolan laughing with glee as he unleashes this cluster fuck of a plot development on the audience only two thirds of the way through the movie.

Said Nolan of the character’s death “I remember just sitting in that theatre and you could hear a pin drop, and I had been waiting for this moment for several years, because we found a trope that was so blindingly obvious, which is that he’s the hero and he has to rescue everyone. But what happens if he doesn’t?”

The iconic shower scene from Psycho does one better than The Dark Knight, killing off its main protagonist in the first act, leaving audiences completely confounded. There’s no mistaking the architect behind this beautiful deception: the one and only Alfred Hitchcock. So determined was Hitch to keep the twist secret, he demanded critics not spoil the surprise for viewers, quite the task in an age before the humble “Spoiler Alert” was invented.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8VP5jEAP3K4

4

The Usual Suspects (1995)

“The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist”

The devil alluded to in that famous quote from The Usual Suspects could be one of two people: The mysterious Keyser Söze who controls the film’s characters like a puppet master, and director Brian Singer who does the same with his audience. The true identity of the real Keyser Söze is one of those twists that make you want to go back and watch the film again to spot all the clues.

3

The Sixth Sense (1999)

Yes, Bruce Willis is a ghost, and no that is not considered a spoiler in 2016. M. Night Shyamalan built an entire career off his twists, but none has or will ever be as shocking or brilliant as this inspired reveal. It elevated the film from good to truly great, and although the twist is the butt of many a joke between friends, its easy to forget what an ingenious job Shyamalan did of fooling his audience in the first place.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qj0JDnQIZf0

2

Se7en (1995)

“What’s in the booooox?”

Se7en was never going to have a happy ending. The sense of dread that pervades the film only grows as the twisted tale progresses, giving us a pretty clear indication that we’re headed to a dark place. But noone could have predicted the one-two gut punch David Fincher delivers during the film’s final moments. Those being the reveal of Gwyneth’s pretty little head, and the subsequent execution of John Doe at the hands of Detective Mills. The director pulls out all the tricks in his toolbox for the scene, using silence and careful edits to ratchet the tension up to almost unbearable levels. If you weren’t leaning forward in your seat when you saw this scene for the first time, you don’t enjoy movies.

1

The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Not just the best movie twist of them all, this is one of the great all time scenes in cinema. There’s not much to say about this moment that hasn’t been said already, but its incredible to think George Lucas was able to keep the revelation a secret from so many for so long. Just how did he manage it? Check out the brief snippet below from the Feature length Empire of Dreams doco.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=coPi6fvskF4?start=6677&end=6845

And be sure to rewatch the classic scene in question for the 300th time. Go on, you know you want to.

https://youtu.be/h6sj89xgnl4

That’s all folks! Be sure to let us know what plot twists had you screaming in the cinema in the comments section below.

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