Few things are more entertaining in a movie than a good plot twist. When a film is able to hook its audience, fully immerse them in a storyline, and then pull the rug out from under them, it’s not only good entertainment, but it’s also the mark of great filmmaking.
Any movie that includes a twist ending is an ambitious one, working towards throwing off its audience in order to break convention. However, unconventionality doesn’t automatically equal a successful film.
The truth is that some movies don’t fare so well with their plot twists. Some are bizarre, insane, or just plain stupid. One of the worst cinematic sins, though, is having a downright boring plot twist. There’s nothing worse than a film working towards a big reveal only to have that secret twist be wholly disappointing, sucking the wind right out of the sails of its own movie.
To add insult to injury, some of the flattest plot twists are from movies that are otherwise wildly entertaining, making their twist endings all the more dissatisfying. This list is a roundup of some of the biggest letdowns in plot twist history.
Here are the 15 Amazing Movies Ruined By Boring Plot Twists.
15. The Book of Eli
The 2010 post-apocalyptic film The Book of Eli had huge promise. Atmospheric, disturbing, and unique, the movie follows Denzel Washington’s Eli as he travels with companion Solara (played by Mila Kunis) to deliver a secret, all-important book to some mysterious destination.
Villain Carnegie (Gary Oldman) is hot on their trail, desperate to claim the book for himself, and the film delivers some memorable action sequences in the process of the big chase.
The Book of Eli has religious inklings running throughout, with Eli’s book quickly revealed to be the Bible. However, many had issue with its lackluster twist ending that revealed the Bible was written in braille and that Eli was in fact blind, guided by the hand of God through his journey.
Besides the fact that the twist makes some of the movie’s action sequences ridiculous and impossible in hindsight, the twist makes the whole movie fall flat, removing everything that made the movie interesting and replacing it with a heavy-handed message.
Hancock was one of the most awaited action movies of 2008. The concept was fresh and exciting: combining the superhero film and the comedy, Will Smith’s Hancock was a drunken, washed up vigilante with superpowers who would haphazardly lend help in catching criminals for the LAPD.
The first portion of the film was fairly strong, giving a humorous look into what it would be like if a superhero wasn’t exactly the upstanding citizen he was supposed to be. However, when public relations professional Ray enters Hancock’s life and it is revealed that Ray’s wife has the same superpowers as Hancock, the film takes a downward turn.
Hancock’s final twist reveals that Ray’s wife and Hancock are the last members of a different species, and the two actually used to be married hundreds of years ago. The two split up after Hancock lost his memory in a bad fight and happened to reunite during the events of the film.
13. The Village
After turning out first-rate thrillers like The Sixth Sense, Signs, and Unbreakable, M. Night Shyamalan had positioned himself as one of the most impressive filmmakers of the early 2000s.
His 2004 film The Village seemed especially gripping: set in 19th century New England, it centers on a village that shares its borders with a forest inhabited by mysterious monsters referred to by the village elders as “Those We Don’t Speak Of.”
Though it includes a stellar cast and impressive visuals, The Village simply doesn’t measure up to its potential once Shyamalan unveils his signature twist. Not only are the monsters simply adults dressed up in costume, but the film actually takes place in modern day, not the colonial era.
The twist turns The Village from a fraught horror film to a plainer drama with dull social commentary, erasing everything that made the film an exciting watch and replacing it with little substance in return.
Known for his gritty style and violent films, Oliver Stone seemed the perfect match to take on Savages. The action-thriller follows pot dealers Chon, Ben, and their girlfriend Ophelia as they have a falling out with the Mexican cartel.
When cartel boss Elena kidnaps Ophelia to get the attention of Chon and Ben, things get violent. Chon and Ben end up kidnapping Elena’s daughter for revenge, and they soon organize a swap.
During the swap, a wild gunfight breaks out and Chon, Ben, and Ophelia are bloodied up and wounded. The three overdose on drugs in order to die together. However, just as the audience thinks Oliver Stone has delivered one of the most violent climaxes of all his films, a plot twist is thrown into the mix.
The shootout was simply what Ophelia imagined could have happened, and in fact the film ends on a happy and peaceful note, with she, Ben, and Chon all surviving the events of the film.
This sudden tonal shift isn’t just jarring – it’s downright frustrating, deflating the movie’s momentum completely and turning what could have been a shocking and memorable ending into a typical Hollywood one.
11. The Number 23
Jim Carrey stunned audiences with his fragile and moving performance in the 2004 Charlie Kaufman film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and proved once in for all that he should be taken seriously as a dramatic actor.
Audiences trusted that he would turn in an equally affecting performance with his 2007 mystery-thriller The Number 23. However, they were quickly let down.
The Number 23 follows Carey’s Walter Sparrow as he becomes increasingly obsessed with a mysterious novel whose main character is eerily similar to Sparrow himself. The book’s last chapter (chapter 23) is missing and Sparrow’s hunt for the ending brings him to the brink of insanity.
The movie’s plot is weary on its own, but with The Number 23’s plot twist, the movie grows nearly impossible to enjoy. The end reveals that Sparrow himself wrote the book, and the uncovered last chapter is his written confession of murder.
To add insult to injury, the film dedicates its entire last half hour breaking down the plot twist and explaining it in excruciating detail, making an already dumb reveal even more insulting to its audience.
10. Boxing Helena
Written and directed by Jennifer Lynch, daughter of the famous American surrealist filmmaker David Lynch, Boxing Helena promised to be a wild and disturbing film.
The mystery-thriller certainly delivers on the disturbing: when Helena gets in an accident, surgeon Nick Cavanaugh grows obsessed over her, and after a surgery that requires the amputation of both her legs, he treats her at his own house. He later amputates both of her perfectly healthy arms in order to control her completely.
However, the film fails to truly entertain, which is due in part to its awful twist that the events of the film are all in Nick’s mind, and none of it (with the exception of Helena’s original accident) actually occurred.
After its release, Boxing Helena garnered vicious reviews by critics who ripped it apart not only due to its poor production value, but also because of its twist ending that both patronizes and wastes the time of its audience.
Partially reminiscent of films like The Exorcist or The Omen, Orphan starts out as a movie that explores the disturbing idea of evil children. In the movie, Kate and Joel adopt the Russian orphan Esther when the couple wants to add a child to their family but is having issues getting pregnant.
Adoptive parents Kate and Joel believe things are going well at first. However, after things start going very wrong, the truth is revealed. Unfortunately, that truth isn’t so horrific after all.
Esther isn’t some evil, haunting child, but simply a grown woman with hypopituitarism, which has stunted her growth and allowed her to pose as a young girl for years. An evil child is an inherently creepy subject; children are supposed to be sweet and innocent, after all.
8. Source Code
Duncan Jones is known for his bold, original sci-fi concepts. Unfortunately, Source Code did not go down as one of his more successful ventures.
When Jake Gyllenhaal’s Colter Stevens is given a mission to find out the identity of a train bomber through the futuristic “source code” device that allows him to relive a few minutes in the life of another person in an alternate timeline, the movie seems like an intriguing combination of sci-fi and mystery.
However, the movie loses its steam when it’s explained that Colter is actually comatose, having lost nearly half of his body in a military accident and is now hooked up to life support and dependent on the device that sends him on his mission.
Source Code grows confusing towards its end when it throws in another twist where Colter is able to permanently inhabit the life he takes on in the source code program.
7. Now You See Me
A group of magicians pulling off bank heists isn’t the typical material for a thriller, but Now You See Me went and did it anyway. Though most of the film is pretty entertaining, the movie falls completely apart when it serves up its final twist.
As FBI agent Rhodes works with Interpol agent Dray to hunt down the magicians (named the Four Horsemen) and find out how these bank heists are working, the possibility of a “fifth horseman” arises when it appears that the magicians might be getting outside help.
As it turns out, Agent Rhodes himself is that very “fifth horseman.” The twist is immediately unbelievable. It’s hard to reconcile the fact that the stumbling Rhodes was actually a criminal mastermind the entire time, and the twist denies the movie’s own logic.
6. Jurassic Park 3
Audience members don’t look to the Jurassic Park franchise for complex, deeply thought-provoking content. Most of the time, people watch these movies just to see dinosaurs do their thing and wreak havoc.
However, the minds behind Jurassic Park 3 seemed to forget this fact when they drew up the film’s plotline. The movie starts out quite dark: when Paul and Amanda Kirby’s son goes missing while parasailing near the Jurassic Park island, they employ the help of Dr. Alan Grant to track him down.
The movie has some wild action sequences, including some involving the iconic T. Rex and a Spinosaurus. However, just as the movie seems to be ramping up, it shuts down. The movie’s plot twist involves the arrival of the US Navy and Marine Corps coming to the rescue of Grant and company, immediately implying a crazy fight scene between the US military and some dinosaurs.
However, the movie never goes there, wrapping up as quickly as possible after the military is introduced. Not only is the twist an extremely convenient one for the characters, but it’s also a huge let down that never explores the wealth of possibilities it introduces.
5. High Tension
The utterly brutal French horror film High Tension is one of the best examples of the New French Extremity movement, an artistic trend involving movies dedicated to pushing the envelope in how they depict horror, sex, and violence.
The films of the movement are incredibly disturbing, and High Tension is not a film that is easily forgotten. When college student Marie visits her friend Alex’s family house in the countryside for a break from school, the weekend getaway turns horrific when a murderous neighbor invades the home, kills Alex’s family, and kidnaps Alex herself.
Marie escapes capture and tries to hunt down her friend in order to save her. The movie is stylish, thrilling, and shocking all at the same time – or at least until it’s big plot twist is revealed.
The film ends by revealing that there was no murderous neighbor in the first place. Marie herself, obsessively in love with her best friend, murdered Alex’s family and dragged her away from her country home so the two could be together forever.
4. The Happening
By 2008, M. Night Shyamalan’s career had taken a turn for the worst. After his early films, his work failed to fully capture audiences as each movie grew more and more disappointing and frustrating. Fans of the writer/director hoped Shyamalan would turn around his luck with The Happening.
Initially, the film has a creepy premise. When people begin committing suicide in mass waves for seemingly no reason, chaos spreads as society begins to break down. Mark Wahlberg plays Elliot Moore, the film’s main character who travels with a group of friends and tries to survive the film’s bizarre events.
This concept opens up endless creative possibilities to build a fresh, unforgettable film. Out of all the possible explanations for why these events are happening, however, Shyamalan picked one that is the most boring of all: plants.
Shyamalan chose to have defensive plants releasing toxins as the horrifying monster at the heart of The Happening. This twist has gone down as among the worst plot twists in film history thanks to its completely baffling logic and downright ridiculous nature.
3. The Boy
Creepy dolls are essentially a staple of the horror genre at this point. From Chucky in Child’s Play to Jigsaw in Saw and Annabelle in The Conjuring, the genre is rife with examples of dolls and dummies that terrorize the lives of those around them.
The 2016 horror film The Boy seemed like it was going to add something new to this creepy horror premise. Instead, it only disappointed its eager viewers.
Lauren Cohen plays Greta Evans, a young American woman hired by an old British couple to babysit a doll named Brahms. Strange and disturbing things begin to happen, and Greta believes that the doll to be haunted by the spirit of the real Brahms, the son of the British couple who passed away as a child.
However, Greta soon learns that Brahms is alive and well, living inside the very walls of the house she has been visiting. The twist is completely disappointing, with the movie unable to commit to its premise of an actual haunted doll and instead making a grown man responsible for all of the film’s horror.
When a talented director such as Danny Boyle is bringing a sci-fi to the screen and cites works like Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris as his inspiration, there’s significant reason to get excited.
Indeed, the first half of Boyle’s film Sunshine delivers in that regard, including gorgeous visuals and enjoyable performances from its impressive cast.
Sunshine follows a group of astronauts completing a dangerous mission to the sun. Although Sunshine first appears to be an introspective sci-fi focused on its characters’ psychological journey, it soon turns into something completely different.
The film’s plot twist has the mutilated Captain of the ship who originally attempted their mission hunt down and murder the main characters of the film, turning Sunshine from a potentially profound sci-fi to a cheaper, more conventional Hollywood slasher.
1. Shutter Island
It’s clear right from the start that Martin Scorsese’s 2011 film Shutter Island is hiding something. The dark, atmospheric, and unsettling thriller expertly keeps its audience on the edge of their seats the entire time – right up until the big twist, that is.
U.S. Marshals Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Chuck Aule are sent to Shutter Island’s insane asylum to investigate the disappearance of one of the patients. As the case grows more and more complex, the Marshals don’t know who they can trust, even beginning to question each other.
Just as the case is heating up, the film pulls the rug out from under its audience and reveals that Teddy Daniels is actually a patient at Shutter Island, and his “case” was a unique form of therapy hoping to trigger his memories and work towards eventual rehabilitation.
Shutter Island is a strong film, but a disjointed one. The first two acts feel like a deeply unnerving horror film, but the final act following the reveal loses all of the film’s frightening momentum.
With its plot twist, Shutter Island turns from high-tension horror into a dark and dismal drama, softening the full impact of the film.
Which of these plot twists bored you the most? Are there any other terrible plot twists that we forgot to mention? Let us know in the comments!
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