We always remember the movies which shake our sensibilities, throw a hand grenade into our expectations, make the impossible possible, and leave us gasping for breath, asking “What the hell just happened?” We also recall with bitter contempt the lamely predictable movies that try too hard to be clever and leave us snarling into our popcorn, “Well I didn’t see that coming!”
Many movies broadcast their twists like weather forecasts, but there are those whose dramatic u-turns leave us giddy to the bone after being usurped by the unexpected. You can’t beat the first viewing of a movie, but a film with a good twist can actually enhance the experience of re-watching it because you see events from a radically different perspective.
It’s time to twist and shout, as Screen Rant presents 10 Movies With Twists So Crazy You Have To Watch Them Twice. Obviously, be wary of spoilers.
The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Before the pantomime of The Phantom Menace and all those other dreary and dismal prequels, there was the original Star Wars trilogy, which glittered, sparkled, shone and won the hearts of millions and the minds of many more. In particular, there was the darkly dramatic The Empire Strikes Back, which contained a classic twist that a lot of us have forgotten about because the Star Wars universe has become so damned familiar.
To cut a long story short for those people who have been living in a cave for the last 40 years, after slicing off Luke Skywalker’s hand, Darth Vader tells him he is his dad and they could, if Luke wanted, rule the galaxy together. This unexpected twist mortified both viewer and Luke alike; not only was Darth Vader and evil man trying to take over the known universe, but also a deadbeat dad. Needless to say, the young Jedi would never be the same again after this jaw dropping revelation.
American Psycho (2000)
The twist in American Psycho is as subtle as sunlight flickering upon an oily pool of polluted water. In fact it might not be a twist at all, just a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma, locked in the prison cell of a deeply depraved and darkly deranged mind. There might well be a key to unlocking the mysterious monstrosity that is the ultra-rich serial killer Patrick Bateman, but you wouldn’t bet your last designer pin stripe suit upon it. It’s just best to buckle up and enjoy the ride as Bateman, played with an unsettling relish by Christian Bale, stomps around the place like a brutally banal and carnivorous capitalist, governed by the mindless mind of evil.
Bateman does a lot of bad things, has a lot of dreary conversations, meets a lot of uninteresting people, and finds himself in a lot of awkward moments as the monotonous chain of serial dinner dates, cocaine sessions, and gym workouts appear to be only broken by flights of random and intense violence. However, all is not quite what it seems. At the end of the film, Bateman indulges in a Hollywood shoot-out with the cops, only to pathetically confess his crimes to his lawyer via an answering machine.
Fight Club (1999)
Fight Club would have been good enough without its mind destroying twist, but the fact that Tyler Durden and Edward Norton turn out to be one and the same character, makes it’s punchline even more memorable. Disassociated personalities in the same body make for great entertainment, especially when they both share a love for bare knuckle boxing and blowing things up. But such an intense bromance is always going to end in tragedy, and it does.
To kill Tyler, who is becoming a bit too big for his boots, the narrator ends us popping a gun in his mouth and shooting himself as the Pixies croon “Where Is My Mind?” in the background. It’s insane, it’s innovative, it’s exciting and on first viewing the twist in Fight Club blindsides you like a sucker punch from a peak period Muhammad Ali. As Durden so eloquently points out to his schizophrenic sibling, “You are not special. You’re not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You’re the same decaying organic matter as everything else. We’re all part of the same compost heap. We’re all singing, all dancing crap of the world.”
The Village (2004)
At first glance, The Village has all the ingredients of a classic horror. Set at the end of the nineteenth century, the remote village in question is filled with a bunch of peaceful, slightly dense and vaguely irritating types who you wouldn’t really object to bad things happening to. Which is just as well because the villagers live in perpetual fear of the nameless creatures who live in the surrounding woods and growl a lot.
The villagers don’t enter the woods and the monsters don’t enter the village and the film crawls along at a snail’s pace until a girl called Ivy goes walking through the trees one day and, shock horror, finds that all these years she’s been living on a hippy commune in a wildlife preserve area and not a 19th century village. It transpires that the monsters were just fabrications created by the delusional hippies to keep anyone from leaving their modern day agricultural utopia. What’s that they say about the road to hell being paved with good intentions?
Planet Of The Apes (1968)
Forget Tim Burton’s hopeless 2001 “re-imagining” of Planet Of The Apes, the original 1968 classic staring Charlton Heston makes you want to twist again like it was last Summer. When astronauts Taylor, Landon, Dodge, and Stewart crash on an unknown planet, a whole new kind of hell opens up for them when they are captured by net-wielding gorillas on horseback. Things go from bad to worse when the astronauts discover that on this terrible planet, the apes are the ones in control and humans are regarded as no better than feral vermin.
After escaping the from the evil monkeys, Taylor is mortified to discover in the final reel of the movie, the remains of the Statue of Liberty on a desolate beach. It slowly dawns on him that this ‘alien planet’ is actually a post-apocalyptic earth. Oh the horror!
The Life of David Gale (2003)
David Gale (Kevin Spacey) is an intellectual, liberal, and passionate activist against capital punishment. He also ends up on death row after being found guilty of the murder and rape of one of his best friends. With a few days left before his execution, Gale sells his story to a witty young journalist played by Kate Winslet.
Events unfold, secrets are revealed and guess what? Gale’s friend had terminal leukemia and she committed suicide and made it look like murder. Gale was in on the plan all along because he believed the most effective way of proving capital punishment is bad, is to get yourself executed. Obviously Winslet is too late to save Gale from a martyr’s fate and nothing can save the film from its self-righteous sermonizing, but admittedly, it does boast a cracking twist.
The Sixth Sense (1999)
The Sixth Sense contained such a stinging twist in its tail that it led to a dispiriting number of movies trying to emulate its success. The film is genuinely eerie, and Bruce Willis is at his laconic and world weary best as disillusioned child psychologist Dr. Malcolm Crowe, who desperately tries to help a troubled young boy Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment) who insists that “I see dead people.” As the film progresses, it turns out the boy can actually see dead people. And guess what? Bruce Willis’s character is one of them and he doesn’t even know it!
Considering it is such a spooky and unnerving film, with nearly every scene riddled with a sense of claustrophobic dread and foreboding that suggests things aren’t going to end well, they strangely do. Cole reconciles himself to his physic abilities, treating them as a gift as opposed to a curse, and Crowe is no longer haunted in death by the things that happened in his life. After fixing a few wrongs and telling his wife he loves her, the ghostly headshrinker disappears into the pale realms beyond the grave and the end credits.
Angel Heart (1987)
As soon as the eerie Louis Cyphre (Robert De Niro) starts withering on about a hard boiled egg symbolizing the soul, before covering one with an obscene amount of salt and savagely eating it like a pig at the trough, you definitely know something sinister, secret and quite possibly satanic is lurking in the shadows waiting to pounce and beat you senseless in Angel Heart. And it does, with a twist that is quite literally soul-destroying. At least for Harry Angel (Mickey Rourke), who is employed by Cyphre to track down a World War II soldier named Johnny Favorite.
After a lot of dead ends and dead bodies, it slowly dawns on Angel that he is Favorite, a powerful magician who sold his soul to Satan, and then attempted to beat the devil and disappear under the firing line by killing a soldier, eating his heart and assuming his identity. Only trouble is, the soldier was sent off to war and injured, leaving the warlock trapped within the shell-shocked body to forgot who he once was. The Devil (De Niro), however, takes great delight in reminding Angel exactly who and what he is.
Shutter Island (2010)
Many great minds have asked over the centuries, “Can I play with madness.” In Shutter Island, the medical geniuses at the Ashecliffe Hospital for the criminally insane don’t just ask the question they play the game with all the savage enthusiasm of the inquiring mind. Of course, the audience doesn’t realize this at the beginning of the film, as U.S. Marshal Edward “Teddy” Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) sets forth to investigate the disappearance of child killer Rachel Solando, and the arsonist named Andrew Laeddis who killed Teddy’s wife.
Through a series of edgy encounters and unsettling revelations we learn that Daniels is actually Laeddis, who was incarcerated after killing his manic depressive wife after she drowned their children. As revelations go, it would probably drive a man insane if he wasn’t half-way over the rainbow already. By indulging in a bit of peculiarly dramatic role-playing, the doctors had hoped Laeddis would accept his crime and drop the conspiracy theories, but it would appear he simply cannot. So he is sent to be lobotomized but not before he asks the nagging question, “Which would be worse – to live as a monster, or to die as a good man?”
The Others (2001)
Edgar Allen Poe once wrote, “All that we see or seem, is but a dream within a dream.” Which is a fair point if you’re addicted to opium and of a poetic disposition, but it’s also a good observation to point out in regard to Alejandro Amenabar’s The Others. Ghost stories always work best if they have the surreal and languid atmosphere of a dream, and The Others has it by the bucket load. Told from the perspective of a family of ghosts, it’s a genuinely upsetting moment as Grace Stewart (Nicole Kidman) realizes she is not being haunted, but is the one doing the haunting.
Grace and her children’s sense of fear at living in a house probably populated by “ghosts” is so convincing, it comes as a complete shock to realize that in life she was actually an insane woman who killed her kids by smothering them with a pillow before shooting herself in the head. The end result is she becomes a spirit who is petrified of the living. The Others is a ghost story from the other side and reminds the viewer that perspective is everything. After all, in any haunted house, both the living and the dead want to be left in relative peace.
So you’ve had the twists, now why not give a little shout if you’ve got any other movies to add to this list.