A movie is only as good as its ending, and unfortunately, a lot of movies end rather poorly. Twists are a commonly used tool to spice up the ending of a movie, but not all twists are created equal. Some genuinely surprise audiences and build on loose plot threads from throughout the movie, but others just kind of happen in a lazy way. Sometimes, a twist is so obvious it’s hard to even consider it a twist in the first place.
Not all twists come at the end of a movie, though. Sometimes something major happens around the middle of the plot that sends the rest of the movie spiraling in a new direction. Wherever the twist may land, it needs to feel like a natural part of the story to be effective, rather than something haphazardly thrown in to generate buzz.
A good twist should have subtle hints throughout that, upon repeat viewings, enhance the whole movie instead of make it seem overwhelmingly obvious. Movies don’t need a twist to be good, but an intelligent one can make a good movie great, just like a poorly developed one can make an otherwise good movie terrible.
With that said, come learn about 8 Movie Twists Everyone Saw Coming (And 7 Nobody Did)!
15. Predictable – Khan!!! (Star Trek Into Darkness)
J.J. Abrams and the rest of the team on Star Trek Into Darkness tried to mislead audiences into thinking that Benedict Cumberbatch was not playing Khan in the second installment of the modern Star Trek film franchise. In order to please the studio, Abrams and co. had to present the movie as being accessible to all audiences, and they were afraid that if they referenced Khan casual viewers would be turned off from the movie.
At the end of the day, the harder the team pushed back against the rumor the more it stuck. Since the movie’s release, Abrams has said he regrets how hard he pushed to keep it a secret. The intense focus on whether or not Cumberbatch played Khan took away focus from other parts of the movie and ultimately left many audience members feeling underwhelmed when their suspicions were confirmed that Cumberbatch was indeed “Khaaaaaaaaan!”
14. Surprising – “I am Your Father” (Star Wars)
A New Hope changed movies forever. Since introducing mass audiences to sci-fi/fantasy for the first time, the Star Wars universe has become a significant part of our cultural zeitgeist. While everything about the universe may seem obvious now, when Empire Strikes Back first came out, audiences were shocked to discover the hidden truth that Darth Vader was actually Luke Skywalker’s father.
Luke was led to believe that his father was killed by Darth Vader, but that was just a metaphor alluding to the fact that the pure, innocent Anakin Skywalker is gone. Audiences across the country felt Luke’s pain and confusion as he screamed, “Nooooo! That’s not true! That’s impossible!”
A big reason the plot point was so surprising is due to the fact that the Star Wars series audiences saw is vastly different from creator George Lucas’ original vision. Originally, Anakin Skywalker wasn’t even supposed to be Darth Vader. Think about it, why would someone try to hide Anakin’s son and let him keep his last name the whole time? Clearly, Lucas was changing things as he went.
13. PREDICTABLE – Gordon Returns (The Dark Knight)
As Joker terrorizes Gotham City in The Dark Knight, he targets miscellaneous political figures that hold a lot of power in the city. During an assassination attempt on the Mayor during a big, public ceremony, the Joker supposedly shoots and kills Lieutenant James Gordon, the one cop Batman can trust.
While it makes sense to add a little bit of tension into the plot, it was fairly obvious Gotham City’s most famous cop wasn’t going to meet his end in the middle of the movie. It’s a smart move for Gordon, who faked his own death to make sure the Joker wouldn’t target them in his rampage, but at the end of the day it was clear Gordon would return.
12. Surprising – Jigsaw Is Right Here (Saw)
It’s hard to remember since there have been six sequels already released and a seventh coming soon, but when Saw first came out in 2004, it sharply divided audiences. The low-budget horror film, costing only $1.2 million, made over $100 million at the box office and essentially brought slasher films back into the modern era.
The film follows two prisoners as they are forced to commit terrible acts in order to get out of their imprisonment. An intense psychological game follows in which the prisoners are being filmed as they are forced to consider cutting off their own limbs while recalling their capture.
The captives think they know who their captor is, but it is ultimately revealed that they were wrong the whole time. The seeming dead body that was in the room the whole time gets up right at the end of the movie and reveals his true identity as the serial killer known as Jigsaw.
11. Predictable – They’re All Crazy Racists (Get Out)
Get Out, the directorial debut by Jordan Peele, took audiences by storm this year. A social satire with a dark twist, the movie follows what happens when a young couple takes a trip to visit the girlfriend’s family out of town. Though the family seems polite, there is clearly something off and they draw a lot of attention to the fact that the main character, played wonderfully by Daniel Kaluuya, is black.
Full of hammy lines like “I would have voted for an Obama third term,” Get Out slowly reveals itself as a movie where older white people lust after the strength of young, black men.
Rose insists she’s never dated a black man before, but it’s revealed she was in on the plot the whole time. To help supply her family with young men to hypnotize and transfer their friends’ consciousnesses into, Rose attracts dates black guys and invites them to “meet the parents.”
10. Surprising – Flashbacks = Flashforwards (Arrival)
Arrival, directed by Denis Villeneuve, seems to have brought intelligent, thoughtful science-fiction back into the mainstream. A story that follows how the world reacts to a series of alien ships landing on Earth, Arrival stars Amy Adams as a linguist named Louise Banks who is trying to communicate with the visitors. Throughout the film, audiences are treated to a series of scenes that show Adams living her life alongside her daughter as she grows from a toddler into a young adult.
The scenes are shot with a dream-like quality that makes it easy to infer that they are flashbacks. As the movie progresses, it is revealed that the aliens have a different understanding of time than humans and they share this new perception with Banks. All the heartbreaking family moments featured in Arrival have yet to take place, and even though Banks knows how painful each moment will be she still decides to move forward and live the life she’s already envisioned.
9. Predictable – ‘The Village’ Is Set In Present Day
M. Night Shyamalan may be known for his twists, but that doesn’t mean they’re all enjoyable. Following a village that’s supposedly set sometime in the 19th century, The Village wants audiences to think that these individuals are trapped in their little village due to creatures that live in the surrounding forest.
While Lucas Hunt’s request to visit neighboring towns to ask for medical supplies was rejected, a young blind woman was later allowed to leave to do the same task despite the fact there are “monsters” out there. It’s ultimately revealed that the village is just a construct by the elders in an attempt to escape the evils and complexities of the modern world.
The movie had a very similar plot to Margaret Haddix’s 1995 novel Running Out of Time in which a 19th-century village was actually just an intense tourist attraction . The author thought they were so similar that she even called the twist ending “the biggest similarity” between the two in 2004.
8. Surprising – The Whole Time! (The Sixth Sense)
While it may be one of the most famous spoilers in all of movie-history at this point, the fact that Bruce Willis’ Malcom Crowe was a ghost in M. Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense was a shock to audiences when it first came out in 1999. In fact, this is the movie where Shyamalan first established himself as someone known for their twist endings.
The story about a young boy who can see dead people features Willis as a child psychologist trying to help young Cole Sear through this difficult time. Right at the beginning of the movie, audiences see Crowe get shot by a disgruntled ex-patient, but everything appears alright when the movie cuts to him working with a new patient the following year.
7. Predictable – Superman’s The Father! (Superman Returns)
Bryan Singer’s 2006 film Superman Returns worked as a quasi-sequel to Richard Donner’s first two Superman movies. At the end of Superman II, Superman left the planet for five years and this movie follows what happens when he finally makes his return. Though it was met with lukewarm reception from fans and critics, it is a thoughtful movie with some pretty solid performances, Kevin Spacey’s stint as Lex Luthor being the standout.
In Superman’s absence, Lois Lane wrote an article called “Why the World Doesn’t Need Superman” and has had a child. While audiences are led to believe the child belongs to Richard White, it is ultimately – and unsurprisingly – revealed that the child is indeed Superman’s.
After Superman ultimately saves the day, he develops a relationship with his young son, causing Lois to ultimately reverse her old stance and write an article called “Why the World Needs Superman.” Moral of the story is never walk out on a reporter because she will make sure everyone knows you are skirting your responsibilities.
6. Surprising – Mi-Do is Dae-Su’s Daughter (Old boy)
Oldboy, a 2003 action-packed noir film directed by Park Chan-wook, follows Oh Dae-su as he lusts for vengeance after being imprisoned for 15 years. After nearly digging himself out of his prison, Dae-su is hypnotized and dumped on a roof.
Even outside the prison, his life is hard as he finds himself a target of mysterious forces pushing him to discover why they imprisoned him in the first place. The only happiness he finds comes from a young sushi chef named Mi-do. Over time the two of them develop an intimate relationship that gives him a sense of calm as he traverses through his violent quest for revenge. Unfortunately, even that relationship was a sick act of revenge on Dae-su.
At the end of the movie Woo-jin, his captor, reveals that Mi-do is actually his daughter and that through hypnosis he led him to that particular restaurant in order to develop a relationship with the girl as a punishment.
5. Predictable – The Dark Knight Rises Again
Similar to Gordon’s death in The Dark Knight, there was no way Chris Nolan was actually going to end a movie with Bruce Wayne a deadman. At the end of The Dark Knight Rises, Batman seemingly sacrifices himself to save Gotham City from a terrible bomb explosion. Pushed to the edge, he presents himself as out of options and desperate to perform one final heroic duty to protect his home.
Wayne believes that the death of Batman will help push the city forward. Positioning himself as a martyr for the city, Wayne thinks Batman is a powerful enough symbol to inspire people to do good. While that is certainly an interesting idea to explore from a cinematic standpoint, the final six minutes of TDKR felt like a countdown to see Wayne make one final appearance because it was obvious WB wasn’t gonna let their biggest hero die at the end of his own trilogy.
4. Surprising – The Prestige’s Final Trick
The Prestige is a 2006 thriller directed by Chris Nolan following Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman as rival illusionists near the end of the 19th century. The movie is a great look into how far people will go to create and preserve their art. Bale’s Alfred Borden seems to be one of the best illusionists in the world, even stumping his rival Robert Angier.
While Angier constantly pushes himself to try and compete and learn the secrets, like all good tricks, the truth is hidden in plain sight. Borden, who is presented throughout the movie as constantly shifting his emotions and priorities, is actually a role that two twin brothers share. The most important thing for them is the trick, and they go all out to preserve the integrity of their image as a master illusionist able to do things no one else can.
3. Predictable – All ‘The Others’ Are Dead
The Others is a ghost story with a twist as we follow Grace Stewart, played by Nicole Kidman, as she raises her two young children in a remote, country house. Set right after World War II, they live an isolated life and have to keep the shutters closed at all times due to the kids’ extreme sensitivity to light. In order to help keep the house organized, Stewart hires a few servants to help around the house.
Throughout the course of the movie, Stewart, who is a devout Catholic starts to believe the house is haunted. Pianos play themselves and Grace even finds a book of the dead. Ultimately, it is revealed that everyone, including Grace is dead. She actually killed her own children while stricken with grief after the death of her husband.
2. Surprising – Keyser Soze (The Usual Suspects)
The boogieman exists, and his name is Keyser Soze.
The Usual Suspects is a 1995 mystery film directed by Bryan Singer and made with only a $6 million budget. Told through flashbacks from the point of view of Roger Kint, the story shows what happened to a group of criminals and how they ended up getting killed at the Port of Los Angeles. The story, full of twists and turns, comes to a head when Kint reveals that he’s actually Soze, a legendary crime lord that no one knows anything about.
Despite how shocking it is, the twist doesn’t make sense for a few reasons. While it’s amusing to think that Soze was able to walk all over the police throughout the movie, the fact of the matter is he confirmed to the authorities that a shady figure they weren’t sure was real was indeed real. Not only that, Soze showed his face off to everyone, so now a few cops know his face in case he’s ever caught for something in the future.
1. Obvious – They Don’t Catch the Killer (Zodiac)
Zodiac, Dave Fincher’s 2007 thriller, was pre-determined to have an ending some movie-goers were going to be disappointed with. The movie follows members of the press and law enforcement communities who pursued the Zodiac Killer in the 1960s and ’70s. One of California’s most notorious serial killers, with five confirmed kills and more according to his own notes he sent to the police, Zodiac’s true identity was never discovered.
Given that he wasn’t found in real life, the movie was never going to be able to tie things up neatly for viewers who didn’t know it was based on a true story. All the twists and close moments where it seems like Jake Gylennhal may have discovered the identity of the killer were added to try and make audiences come to their own conclusions before the filmmaker could reveal nothing ever turned up from the investigation. But for everyone out there who knows their history, the ending of this movie was rather obvious. Of course, they didn’t find him!
Did you see any of these twists coming? Let us know in the comments!
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