Top 10 Movie Lists Movie Reviews Awards & Oscars Box Office TV Series
sixth-sense

50 Best and Worst Twist Endings in Movies

Share:

People love twist endings. Anyone who says otherwise is full of crap. But there are good twist endings and there are bad twist endings, and sometimes it’s a fine line between the two. Having looked at other “Best Twist Ending” lists and pulling from my own memory, I have compiled this list of the best twist endings in movie history – and the worst. Of course, there are some movies I haven’t seen and others I just plain forgot about, but these are the ones you have to see – or avoid.

NOTE: Major spoiler alerts.

The Best Twist Endings

  1. The Sixth Sense
    These top several twists are hard to rank in any clean order, but I still remember the day I sat in theaters watching M. Night Shyalaman’s masterpiece. The movie was pretty decent but didn’t have much of a plot, and I was wondering where the movie was going to go. And then – bam! Bruce Willis has been dead the whole time. Not only is it an amazingly good twist ending, but it also saves the movie from being just a decent ghost story – and, on a second viewing, Shyalaman throws the truth in your face repeatedly.
  2. Primal Fear
    Ed Norton jumped into his career in a big way with this courtroom thriller, where Richard Gere comes to the defense of a seemingly innocent and kind altar boy accused of brutally murdering a priest. Not only is the movie extremely good and offers a first glimpse at the exceptional acting talent stored within Norton, but as it turns out, Norton’s character was faking split personality the entire time.
  3. The Usual Suspects
    Considered the best twist ending by many people, it was hard to put this so far down at #3. I’ve seen a couple people put this crime thriller starring Kevin Spacey on “Worst Twist Endings” lists, but those people are just idiots wanting to sound smarter and more sophisticated than everyone else.
  4. Oldboy
    Probably the best f-ed up twist ending on the list, this film starts out with a guy waking up in a suitcase on a rooftop after years of mysterious captivity. As he seeks out the truth, he teams up and falls in love with a younger woman. He has sex with her. Then, as we learn, he’s been hypnotized to fall in love with his own daughter – and thus he has unwillingly had sex with her. A second twist comes when the guy decides to erase his memories so he can continue to love and have sex with his daughter.
  5. Seven
    This exciting and intriguing thriller has a great cast and a creepy villain, who remains elusive through most of the movie until he conveniently decides to show up for one of the most disturbing twist endings ever. Spacey, the killer, leads the detectives (Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman) out into the middle of nowhere to find the final victim, only to reveal that he is the one who will be killed by Pitt. Why? Because Spacey killed Pitt’s wife, played by Gwenyth Paltrow, to drive him over the deep end. Nice!
  6. Angel Heart
    OK, Oldboy is pretty screwed up, but this one isn’t exactly innocent, either. In this movie, a much younger Mickey Rourke starts investigating murders in New Orleans, only to discover that he himself made a deal with the Devil himself and is responsible for much of what has happened. Wow. [this entry has been edited since the original post]
  7. The Prestige
    The inspiration for writing this post, the Christopher Nolan drama about magicians has several small twist endings that aren’t fully appreciated until repeated viewings. For one, Christian Bale’s character tricks Hugh Jackman into thinking that he got a hold of his journal full of secrets – until Jackman reads that it was all planned. Jackman pulls a similar trick on Bale, revealing to his adversary that he intended to frame him. Then, it is revealed that Jackman’s character is still alive, a result of cloning himself and murdering himself every night. If that’s not f-ed up enough, Bale actually has a twin brother and the two having been living a single life, sharing both a wife and a mistress.
  8. Les Diaboliques [this film was added after the original post]
    In this 1955 French thriller, a wife conspires with her husband’s mistress to murder the husband. They devise an intelligent plan to make the murder look like an accident, but then the body disappears. The wife begins to freak out as more and more clues seem to suggest that either the husband is alive or that someone else knows and is toying with them, to the point where she starts having panic attacks. Ultimately, she ends up dying of a heart attack when the truth is revealed… but since the director actually asks us before the credits to not reveal the ending, I won’t say what the cause is.
  9. The Others
    An elegantly simple and creepy ghost story turns out to be a lot more when it is revealed that Nicole Kidman and her two children, who are allergic to sunlight, have in fact been dead the entire movie, and the ghosts they’ve been seeing are living people attempting to drive them out of the house.
  10. Unbreakable
    This is a love-it-or-hate-it film, but M. Night Shyalaman’s follow-up to The Sixth Sense, which also stars Bruce Willis, is one of my favorite movies. There’s not a lot of plot to the film, but once again Shyalaman throws a zinger at us by revealing that Samuel L. Jackson, who has befriended Willis and helped him realize his potential, is in fact a psychopathic killer who has been committing mass murder just to find someone who is “unbreakable.”
  11. Arlington Road
    This fast-paced suburban thriller has Jeffrey Bridges suspecting that his neighbor (Tim Robbins) is a domestic terrorist. As it turns out, he’s right, but he unfortunately drives the bomb into the federal building himself, and is ultimately blamed for the deaths of hundreds of people.
  12. The Devil’s Advocate
    The title isn’t as metaphorical as one would suspect: Al Pacino really is the Devil, and he wants Keanu Reeves to have sex with what turns out to be his sister to have a Devil grandbaby. When Reeves refuses, the Devil just starts trying all over again.
  13. The Game
    This movie is full of coincidences and conveniences, but there are so many little twists in the film that it’s hard not to be entertained. Is everything a game, or is it reality? Sure, it’s pretty unbelievable that Michael Douglas would choose to commit suicide through the exact window (and avoid all of the rafters) where a big balloon is waiting to catch him for his birthday party, but you didn’t see it coming, did you?
  14. Scream
    A lot of slasher films have “twists” in regards to who the villains are, but few have pulled it off as well as Wes Craven’s classic. I remember sitting in the theater (sadly, with my mom) when Skeet Ulrich – who had been sliced up quite heavily a few minutes before, hence proving his innocence – licks his fingers and declares that his blood is in fact corn syrup. And there’s not one killer, but two.
  15. Psycho (1960)
    I knew the ending before I ever saw the film, so the impact of the big twist was rather lessened, but you still have to respect the fact that Norman Bates dresses up like his mother to kill unsuspecting innocents. That’s just disturbing. Oh, and the “star” of the movie, Janet Leigh, gets killed off early on in the infamous shower scene. [this entry has been edited since the original post]
  16. Planet of the Apes (1968)
    Another movie where I had seen shots of the ending before I actually saw the movie, the realization that Charlton Heston was never going to make it back home because… he’s already on Earth!
  17. American Psycho
    I still don’t fully understand the ending, but I believe Christian Bale’s psychopathic tendencies are all, actually, in his mind. The great thing about this movie is that even if the entire film may “be a lie,” the actual events are up for debate. Did he or didn’t he? Everyone has their own opinion. [this entry has been edited since the original post]
  18. Donnie Darko
    With more of a strange ending than a twist one, it turns out that Donnie’s sleepwalking – which saved him from being crushed by a jet engine at the beginning of the film – has put his mother and sister in peril, as a month later, they are on the plane that will eventually crash into their home a month earlier. Donnie decides to sacrifice himself and die so that his family wouldn’t a month later. Or something like that.
  19. Stephen’s King The Mist
    I just watched this movie the other night, and wow, what an ending. This movie shouldn’t have been that good, with mediocre special effects and overblown acting (not to mention it’s a film about random monsters from another dimension), but it is. And the capper: an utterly depressing ending. Thomas Jane’s truck runs out of gas, leaving the five survivors, including his son, stranded in the middle of the mist, which has apparently taken over the entire world. With no chance of survivor, he turns to his gun, which only has four bullets left. He kills the other four people, including his own son, and then steps outside. A minute later, the army shows up and the mist begins to clear. Had he waited a minute longer, he wouldn’t have had to murder his only child! Ouch!
  20. Soylent Green
    They’re people! They’re people! The movie is a bit dated now, but if I hadn’t known the ending ahead of time, this would have been a pretty damn good twist ending.
  21. Chinatown
    Pretty common nowadays (just watch an episode of Law and Order: SVU), this Jack Nicholson film featured a twist that revealed that 1) Faye Dunaway was not who she first appeared to be and 2) that she had an incestuous relationship with her own father.
  22. Night of the Living Dead
    It’s a bit of a stretch to call this a twist ending, but it’s still a shocking one. Zombies are everywhere, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Militias have moved in to clean out the walking dead, and it looks like our hero (an African American) is safe. But, then, one shooter takes him to be one of the bad guys and shoots him in the head. Not a cheerful ending, but a memorable one.
  23. The Ring
    The Naomi Watts horror-thriller that took cinema by storm has a couple twist endings, even if you don’t recognize them as such. In most horror movies, once the protagonist discovers the dead body of the mean ghost, the spirit is usually set free and the movie ends. In The Ring, after Watts saves herself and her son by pulling Tamara’s body from the well, she things all are good. Wrong! Tamara is evil, and she’s just released her spirit to kill at will. And, to ultimately save themselves, Watts decides that she and her son will pass the video onto someone else (I believe a relative).
  24. Memento
    Guy Pearce, suffering from severe short term memory, goes through life searching for his wife’s killer and not trusting people. Since the film works in backwards order, we slowly discover that his wife killed herself by tricking Pearce into giving her multiple insulin shots; furthermore, Pearce tricks himself by writing notes about people that aren’t true, so that in the future he won’t listen to their “lies,” which are actually truths.
  25. The Descent
    If you’ve seen the original, European version, you’ll know what I mean; if you’ve only seen the American version, where the main character escapes from the monster-filled caves, you won’t. While we get to see the woman escape from the cave, drive away and so on and so forth, that escape is actually in her head – she’s still miles underground, surrounded by the creatures that are going to kill her.
  26. Minority Report
    Not really a twist ending, but another one that makes you think. After Tom Cruise is accused of murder, he sets out to clear his name. Since the whole criminal system is based on a predictive, psychic machine that is never wrong, his only way to do that is to prove that the system, which he has believed in for years, is wrong. How does he do it? He sets out to kill the creator of the program, thus triggering the system to alert the authorities. But, since he knows the truth about the creator, the creator wants to kill him, too. If Cruise succeeds, the system fails. If the creator succeeds, the system fails. Bam!
  27. Mulholland Drive
    No one really knows what David Lynch’s movie is about, but that doesn’t stop me from being intrigued by the completely weird ending to Mulholland Dr., the movie that put Naomi Watts on the map. There’s something about Pandora’s box, about two leading women being the same person, Watts masturbating and making out with herself, etc.
  28. 12 Monkeys
    I didn’t love this Bruce Willis/Brad Pitt movie, but it does have a disturbing ending. After Bruce Willis is sent back in time to stop a virus from wiping out most of mankind, you expect him to find the solution and save humanity. Instead, he fails, and his child-self gets to watch him get killed by security guards in an airport. Cheerful.

So-So or Overrated Twist Endings

The following list contains several movies with endings that I have liked, but haven’t loved. #1 on the list should evoke some emotion, but I stand by it. The twist endings in this list neither made the movies better or worse.

  1. Fight Club
    This is the one movie that will cause people to complain about this list. Many would rank this ending as one of the best endings in cinema history, as it is revealed that Ed Norton and Brad Pitt are, in fact, the same person. While I’m sure it worked in the book, I think this is a bit of a cop-out. Fight Club is still a pretty good and imaginative movie, but the fact that everything we saw was a lie – and that it really never makes complete sense – doesn’t have me drooling over the ending like it causes some people to do.
  2. Swimming Pool
    This great thriller starring Charlotte Rampling has an aging author staying at a French villa only to discover that a sexy younger woman has shown up to share space. Intrigued by her sexuality, a subtle erotic thriller and ultimately murder mystery ensue… but then we discover that everything is all in her head and that we simply saw her imagination at work as she developed her story. Normally I don’t like endings where it turns out everything is a dream, but Swimming Pool pulled it off. Still, some would see it as a cop-out.
  3. Vanilla Sky/Open Your Eyes [this film was added after the original post]
    In these movies (remake and the original, both of which star Penelope Cruz – in different roles), the leading man (we’ll call him Tom Cruise) starts to go out of his mind as an ex-flame comes back from the dead, his ravaged face turns out to be not-so-ravaged and other weird things happen. As it turns out, most of the movie is a corporate-controlled dream due to the fact that he has been cryogenically frozen. The movie is weird and not for everyone, but the ending works.
  4. Signs
    I have mixed emotions about the “twist” ending here. When I first saw Signs, I liked it a lot. It was creepy, suspenseful, and had an ending that at least wrapped things up. Still, it seems like M. Night Shylaman threw a twist ending into the film for the sake of not letting his fans down, and a lot of people didn’t buy into the “Swing away” line. I don’t hate the ending, but it’s rather unnecessary.
  5. No Way Out
    In this spy thriller, it turns out that Kevin Costner, who has been searching for a Russian mole, is, in fact, the Russian mole. It’s sort of a silly ending that seems thrown in there at the last moment, but I certainly didn’t see it coming.
  6. Citizen Kane
    Does this movie have a twist ending? No, not really. But it has shown up on other “twist” listings so I just included it here to say so. [this entry has been edited since the original post]
  7. Eastern Promises
    In this decent thriller from David Cronenber, it is revealed that the ruthless Russian mobster played by Viggo Mortensen, who took it upon himself to protect Naomi Watts from his own people, is actually an undercover detective. The surprise really doesn’t make the movie any better, and in many ways it takes the emotional impact of the movie out of the story. After all, Mortensen never really had to make a choice between his people and Watts; he was against them from the start.
  8. The Village
    Another M. Night Shyalaman film, The Village is a pretty decent drama. I wasn’t crazy about the film because it was marketed as a horror movie, even though it isn’t, and maybe that distracted me from a pretty good twist ending. It’s not the direction I wanted the film to take, but the ramifications are huge: as it turns out, there are no monsters in the woods. The monsters were devised by the elders of the village to keep the younger people from venturing away, which would lead them to the wall: on the other side, a paved road and modern civilization.
  9. Identity
    John Cusack and others find themselves being picked off one by one by an unknown killer. What starts out as a reasonable thriller develops into a supernatural one, and from that somethinge entirely different: all of the characters, including Cusack, are all in the mind of a psychotic killer who is sitting in prison. No one saw this ending coming, though I can’t say it’s an amazing one: once the ending is revealed, the thriller loses any suspense it had going for it.
  10. Fallen
    In this supernatural thriller, Denzel Washington hunts a killer that moves from body to body, possessing people to carry out its evil will. Denzel figures out a way to trap and kill the demon – by luring it into the woods away from bodies to transfer to. As he becomes possessed, he inhales poison to kill the demon; but doesn’t take into account that the demon can also possess animals such as cats. So, at the end of the movie, evil wins and Denzel is possessed by a demon. Not a horrible ending – and many people love it – but it just didn’t click for me. [this entry has been edited since the original post]
  11. High Tension
    An ending that is so good it’s bad, High Tension, which could have been one of the most memorable and disturbing slasher films in recent memory, ends with a whimper when it is revealed that the sexually charged killer, played by a man, is actually the female protagonist, who, driven by jealousy, has gone insane. The twist, while shocking, really never makes sense, especially considering the fact that in the first scene the killer is shown jerking himself off with a decapitated head. I go back and forth on this one…
  12. Lucky Number Slevin
    Josh Hartnett gets confused for someone else and winds up getting involved in a deadly plot between an assassin named The Cat and a couple mobster-type guys. He plays it innocent until it is revealed that he and The Cat are partners and that Hartnett is himself a master assassin. There’s more to it than that, but I don’t have enough space to explain everything. The twist is a shocker, and yet it takes away something from the film. Handled a bit differently, it could have really worked, but I found it a bit underwhelming.

The Worst Twist Endings

Below is a list of the worst twist endings known to man:

  1. The Forgotten
    What could have been a really good movie turns out to be a film about aliens experimenting on people. Aliens? Come on. This movie has the worst twist ending ever, and due to some scenes shown in the previews, you actually could see it coming.
  2. The Number 23
    This thriller was supposed to put Jim Carrey on the map as a truly serious actor, but it failed miserably. Not only was his acting terrible, but the movie features one of the most disappointing endings ever. Having been seduced and driven to obsessed madness by a book that seems to parallel his life, giving us hints at Satan and other disturbing ramifications, it is revealed that Carrey himself wrote the book while he was in a psychiatric hospital that he no longer remembers. So the twist is: he actually is crazy and he wrote the book himself. Wow. Stupid.
  3. Secret Window
    This Johnny Depp film had potential, but it has a strangely predictable ending, and one that was not particularly good. After it is revealed that he himself is off his rocker and has killed every victim, Depp never gets punished but does decide to get braces. Huh?
  4. Hide and Seek
    Hide and Seek features another predictable ending. In fact, it is so bad that when I realized it in the first 30 minutes of the movie, I prayed for the next hour that I was wrong. As it turns out, Dakota Fanning doesn’t have an imaginary friend who kills people, but instead it’s her father – the main character, played by Robert DeNiro – who has a split personality. The split personality twist ending is almost always a deal killer, and Hide and Seek proves it.
  5. Saw
    I only put this on the list because I’ve seen Saw mentioned on other Best Twist Ending lists. It’s not much of a twist ending, but after the protagonists do themselves in, it is revealed that the corpse in the middle of the room is in fact the killer – and that he’s just been lying still for the last two hours. It just doesn’t make much sense, nor is it very exciting.
  6. Perfect Stranger
    This Halle Berry thriller is about as bad as it looks. I lost interest halfway through and thus was only paying attention at half staff when the twist ending is revealed, but the fact that the main character – Berry – is in fact the unknown killer she’s been hunting is just downright stupid.
  7. Never Talk to Strangers
    Like Hide and Seek and Perfect Stranger, here’s another movie that ends with the revelation and the main protagonist is actually the bad guy.
  8. The Life of David Gale
    Kevin Spacey is on death row for a crime he didn’t commit… or did he? As it turns out, he faked murder to get convicted and sentenced to death, so he could prove that the death sentence is inhumane. Uh… OK.
  9. Planet of the Apes (2001)
    In this pointless remake directed by Tim Burton, Mark Wahlberg finally escapes from Ape World to land back on Earth… only to find that the Lincoln Memorial has the face of an ape. Unlike in the original, where there’s a lot less tacky and much more iconic view of the Statue of Liberty – implying that Heston is on Earth and is simply far in the future – this ending implies that there’s an alternate dimension or something like that. It’s just cheesy, and a stupid way to lead the audience into the ending credits.
  10. No Country for Old Men
    The Oscar-winning drama-thriller really doesn’t have a twist ending, unless you allow the fact that the Coen brothers kill the protagonist off screen, never explain how he died and that the movie has switched gears to a pointless and rambling speech by Tommy Lee Jones. It’s one of the most disappointing endings to an otherwise excellent film. Should the ending be different? No. That’s how the film ends in the book by Cormac McCarthy (and no one should mess with McCarthy’s works), but the film is so suspenseful and exciting for the first 80% that it’s just a major letdown when the movie takes a pure dramatic turn. [this entry has been edited since the original post]
By Erik Samdahl
Related categories: Movies, Top 10 Movie Lists
Tags: , , , ,

AROUND THE WEB

  • godzai

    Signs is the worst movie I have ever seen. I am consistently surprised when people say they like it. From the Hitchcock tv show themed opening sequences, to the shitty acting which causes serious lines to be delivered like dry schtick, I found the film to be inconsistent. The weird moment where the ex priest has a little boy(even if it is his son) on his lap saying “here comes the air” in a vaguely orgasmic way had me laughing out loud(but it wasn’t supposed to be funny). I thought this movie was just terrible. The concept that at the moment of death the woman would leave a message for the ex baseball player to “swing away” is silly. Without the help of her dying comments he wouldn’t have thought to hit the e.t. with a bat? Shallow. Not suspenseful. And written for low i.q. people. Your liking this flick goes directly against your comment that you can guarantee that you are smarter than your detractors. Your shallow interpretations of the other films on this list show a very limited mental flexibility, and like all internet list experts, no qualification other than the “opinions are like assholes” thing that make all internet critics the same.
    Also, the book ‘fight club’ WAS written before the film.(contrary to what one poster thought) The book was rereleased for the movie. And I know that to refer to the book for a movie is not the point, but the book plus the movie makes the whole story so much better. The visualization and characters from the movie are great, the story from the book is sublime and very deep. The movie dropped the ball because it only uses one twist from the book which has multiple layers like an onion.

  • Doctor X

    I wish people would leave you alone about The Sixth Sense, Fight Club and Saw! I loved No Country For Old Men and then felt completely robbed. Most people are right about the need to include Empire Strikes Back, but what they forget is that it was a hugely popular movie when released and most of us knew about Darth being Luke’s father before we went into the film – except for the fortunate few who saw it first, the twist was ruined.

    I tried reading most of the comments because I like to find these movies. So I hope you enjoy some of the newer curve-ball movies I have discovered:

    1. In The Company of Men
    2. Ink
    3. The Man from Earth (two little twists that make this fun to watch)
    4. Revolver
    5. Session 9

    Some not included on your list and didn’t see suggested by others (could have missed them – so many posts!) but I think they deserve honorable mentions:

    1. Enemy of the State
    2. The Game
    3. Shock (but this 80′s movie is very hard to find, but worth it if you can)
    4. Camp Sleepaway (a very bad movie but no one can deny being shocked at the end)
    5. The Mist (one of the most frustrating and cruel endings I have ever seen)
    6. Scream (not only for its surprise killers, but killing off Drew Barrymore at the beginning)
    7. Friday the 13th – the very first one (we forget about how we got comfortable with horror movies leaving at least one or more survivors – so when Jason jumps out of the calm lake – everyone was quite surprised. The twist was on the entire horror genre – no one survived!)
    8. Star Trek: The Motion Picture (did anyone expect a lost probe from the 1970′s?)
    9. Payback
    10. Body Double
    11. No Way Out
    12. Shattered
    13. The Skeleton Key
    14. Total Recall
    15. The Never Ending Story (kids movies seem to avoid twists, but it was a personal favorite and close enough)

    Like this, don’t get discouraged about those just wanting to bash your list! Thanks! I will return!

  • http://www.filmjabber.com Erik Samdahl

    Hi Doctor X – thanks for the support and the list!

  • Tair

    No country for old men is actually one of the best twists in the history of cinema, it was not the fact that he is got killed, it was the fact not being showed that he the scene of being killed.
    Twist is more obvious and more shocking when you actually read the book.
    In the book there was the shooting and then you keep reading and wondering until Bell confirms the body in the morgue.
    Technicality Cormac Mcarthy was the one who directed the film not the Coen Brothers.
    No wonder you have no taste, Six sense is the best!!!! the worst twist ever. A dead man does know he is dead?!! after 16 months?!!!!! did not he need a poo or something?!! I would understand if Shamaylan made it like he knew he was dead..but getting shocked is just too stupid LoL

  • http://www.estetica-design-forum.com Toon @ Design Forum

    I wanted to add a uk movie called ‘dead mans shoes’ very good twist.

    Interesting list and views from everyone except from the people who directly insulted the OP due to his opinions, not called for at all.

  • Mako

    I was really Disappointed with The Number 23
    i was expected something really good but it didnt come to

  • NQ

    @Tair

    When your in a dream do you realise that you are? Even though whats happening around you can be impossible your mind processes it and finds reason to justify it. I don’t see why he couldn’t have know he was dead all along. Noone else seemed to

  • stinger503

    A lot of people just don’t get Signs. The twist was that God had prearranged everything, not that the aliens were allergic to water. The fact that the Earth is 70% water is irrelevant because they had DISCUSSED IN THE MOVIE that the aliens were positioned away from large bodies of water and M. Nights character was going to a lake FOR THAT VERY REASON. THE ALIENS KNEW THERE WAS WATER HERE. So stop disliking the movie on the basis of “why were the aliens here when water is here hur hur”

    Message not directed solely at author but the general public. Thank you.

  • KAUSHIK

    HI GUYS….
    WHY DO YOU FORGATE OUR PRETTY BOY “THE ILLUTIONIST”…BY EDWORD NORTON…

  • http://www.amaya-radjani.com Amaya

    Great list! Of course I agree and disagree with placements, but on the whole, good idea. Also for the wealth of discussion that resulted from it (we’ll ignore the children who thought it prudent to hurl insults). I read everything and I’ve filled up my NF queue with recommendations. Excellent work!

  • Alex O’Mahony

    Fudge 44 has a great twist
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jac2-XMGd1w

  • Nightlord

    For me Mulholland Drive is the best, I mean, I thought I was understanding all the story but then…wow, a movie that makes you think and you just can`t get it.

  • http://www,techomaniac.com Robindar

    Very comprehensive list. I was looking for something like this for a long time. Thanks. The most confused ending for me was Mullholand Drive.

  • Wes

    How come Matchstick Men wasn’t in the list it was a great twist ending.I never saw it coming

  • Rev

    How did the Saw twist not make sense? Concentrate, man.

  • http://www.teacherpreviewpass.com/ david jack scott

    Yeah !
    I like this kind of twist , it keeps pleasure on the different note.

  • Robert

    Does anyone know what the movie is which is about a college professor who is a accused of having an inapporopriate relationship with a student, but it turns out that there is one twist after another in the film?

  • http://www.filmjabber.com Erik Samdahl

    @Robert – Wild Things is about a high school teacher who is accessed of having an inappropriate relationship with a student, but things aren’t as simple as they appear. Are you sure it was college? (there are several college-based movies like that as well, but can’t think of them off the top of my head)

  • MikeOxBig

    Two films that I found to have good twist endings where: Drag Me To Hell and Devil, both brilliant.

  • tgepd

    I really liked your list, and though I disagree with your placement of Fight Club (though it is on a bit of a pedestal), Saw (how many other horror films convince you the killer is the dead corpse that you see from the beginning?), and Muholland Dr. (there’s no twist if there’s never an expectation to begin with, right?). I plan on watching several movies that you’ve suggested.
    That being said, I have a few suggestions of some of my favorites (I know some have been mentioned before):
    The Shawshank Redemption
    The Illusionist
    Next
    Angels and Demons
    Charade
    Maverick
    Salt
    Traitor
    I’ve really enjoyed your list and hope you enjoy mine as well.

  • Chris

    Very nice list. I know its repeating what has been said a hundred times i’m sure but I do disagree about Fight Club. Opinions differ I guess.

    The only other thing is that (IMO at least) Brucy boy doesnt fail in 12 monkeys. He uncovers the real culprit and the future weird dude are alerted. Hence the future woman sat next to the killer on the plane…..?

  • Mmorris

    Wow, three years of debate! Nicely done Erik. The bottom line is that opinions are never going to jive all the time. However, I owe YOU a huge attaboy for giving me an exciting list on which to build my Netflix queue. Thanks ES. (BTW, I really applaud your original list but would definitely give a hearty thumbs-up to adding Jacob’s Ladder…I never saw it coming). Anyway, back to Netflix. I’ve got some watchin’ to do!

  • http://www.filmjabber.com Erik Samdahl

    @Mmorris – thanks for the comment! And yes, Jacob’s Ladder should be on here – I need to update this list at some point.

  • Bobbonius

    Thanks for putting together the list! Some of it brought back good memories, some of it got me very interested.

    I am interested to watch American Psycho again, considering a new (your) perspective. Also, I have to say I found Lucky # Sleven’s ending disappointing.. It seemed to obvious to me that I thought the viewer was supposed to know it all along, so when they did the big reveal and everyone acted surprised and they explained evertying for the audience, it was very anticlimactic. And I guess I should weigh in on Fight Club. I understand the disappointment in the whole “It was fake, he wasn’t really there” approach, but it was presented in such a unique way. I loved it; I had no idea they’d be the same guy.

    How did you feel about The Machinist? I enjoyed that twist in that one..

  • stephanie

    the secret window was amazing i loved the twist to that and hide and seek was awesome to

  • Josh

    I believe that Fight Club is one of the best movies it may not have an amazing end but is still very good. The movie itself is amazing and i believe that most people mistake the ending as the whole movie. THe only reason why people think the end is overrated is because the ending doesnt make the movie like most believe.

  • Alex

    I agree with Lucky Number Slevins ending taking away from the emotion but it is still in my opinion the best movie ever.

    And what about frality? One of the craziest endings ever.

  • TCat

    I have to agree with almost everything here except for No Country for Old Men. While it’s true the ending is an anti-climatic moment, it still ends by telling the end of the story. The Coen Brothers did a great job of converting the McCarthy book to the big screen. Everyone seems to forget that the whole purpose of the story is to tell why Tommy Lee Jones’ character has decided to get out of the law enforcement business. Because of the amazing work done in this film, we get so wrapped up in the story that he is telling that we forget the main point. If you think this ending was a let down and you were only watching a movie, then imagine how it would feel to someone that was a part of the story if it was real life. For someone as strong as Jones’ character was, you know that it has to be something terrible to make him want to “hang up his hat”. Listen hard to the description of his dreams at the very end of the movie. The real main character here was Jones’ character, not Brolin’s. Hope this helps the movie make more sense because this is one of my all time favorite movies.

  • Magnus Gjellan

    What about The Shawshank Redemption? I think that ending is one of the best in film history. The fact that Darabont gives no clue that Andy is escaping from prison just top this beautiful movie!

  • Beck-ola

    I can’t believe almost no one has mentioned Matchstick Men. That was one of the most shocking, out of left-field things I ever saw in a movie. I think it’s so powerful because even though it’s about con artists, it always just feels like a straightforward drama. Finding out that ***SPOILER*** the girl was faking being his daughter and was in on it with Rockwell was just a huge WTF.

    I do think however theres a difference between a twist ending and a shocking ending, which many of those on the list are the latter. A twist questions and ultimately changes everything you’ve seen before it, while a shock ending is more like “I can’t believe they did that”. Like for example, The Mist has a shocking ending, but it’s not really a twist. A twist would affect the plot more, like if it was all a bad dream or something.

  • Cesar

    u mentioned saw in the worst twisted ending. and that’s because he’s just been lying still for the last two hours. have u watch saw 3. in that movie it explains that jigsaw used some kind of drugs to stay still for 10 hours. i agree on others but saw 1 is one of the best twist ending………

    sorry for the bad grammar >.>

  • Keen

    THE GAME—- THis was a great twist ending, but not because it turns out to actually be his birthday party. The real ending is that he dies after falling through the glass. THe party below is his ideal afterlife (gets the money back, ex-wife loves him, brother has a great relationship with him). What is my proof? Well, why is there an exit wound on Sean Penn’s back? Blood squibs dont explode thru you. Also, how did all the people on the roof suddenly make it down to the bottom floor? Including the girl who was in on it, who was crying a moment ago, but is sudden;y all dressed nice? And in the crowd of people applauding, look close, and you will see a Gandolf looking guy. Who the fuck is that?

  • http://www.filmjabber.com Erik Samdahl

    @Keen – interesting theory. I’ve never heard that before. What you say does make sense in many ways. The squib on Sean Penn’s back gives credence to that theory a bit.

    That being said, I could just as easily attribute that to being a goof. The rest – the people making it down to the bottom floor, etc. – can be explained away with basic film editing (and it doesn’t take that long to take an elevator down). The girl is still dressed in black when she is first shown at the party; she’s only dressed nicer later, which is reasonable.

  • Matt

    Did you actually watch Memento? Because that’s not what happened at all.

  • John Vargan

    Wow…this has to be the oldest running commentary on what should make the twisted list and what shouldn’t.
    Here’s my 2 cents..Fight club is a great movie not because of the twist but because of Brad Pitt’s character Tyler, that dude could sell BS like none other. Love that movie.
    Frailty..underrated classic.
    I’ve saw SAW..it was so so.
    SWORDFISH?
    INSIDE MAN with denzel and clive oven..loved it
    Dead Man’s shoes and the Exam…2 movies you simply have to watch..Judge it later but watch it.
    old movie Shattered…very well made for its time.
    Biggest twist of them all…PASSION OF CHRIST..LOADED WITH TWISTS;) Biggest one …A movie centered on the life of a Jew by MEL GIBSON…WTF?!!

  • Jon

    Check out Shattered from the early 90′s with Tom Berenger. Husband and wife crash car, husband gets amnesia and later discovers that wife had been cheating on him. The ending is epic.

  • Greg

    Shutter Island & Memento were very plausible (in a grandious way, but still …) intelligent, well-conceived films that intertwine good storytelling around more than just a “aha” twist (e.g., Saw, which I did like a lot, but it’s not one that stands the test of time). Saw & all other “swerve” endings owe their modern bow to Kevin Williamson (Scream). I still till this day can’t find a sole who truly, honestly can say they saw the two-killer scenario. But, still, not a great movie; just an amazing gimmick. Shawshank Redemption is movie-making brilliance, great story telling and a twist with backstory and creative restraint. Very underrated on the “twist” scale by those who put the twist (and subsequent reveal) above good filmmaking. Citizen Kane bashers tend to be young and ill-versed in film history. Rosebud was a twist, yes, but not for shock value. It was a conclusion that left open years of discussion about what really matters in life. Plus, its cinematography was groundbreaking, and every serious filmmaker will tell you Kane set the bar for everything that followed. That’s why Kane will forever be AFI’s top film. Unusual Suspects: Great the first time; pointless the second. A good twist doesn’t last for more than two-three viewings for “clues” you missed — it lasts because deep within the twists lie layers of offspring stories for the mind that the “reveal” and a second watching doesn’t make you go, “Oh, now I get it.” Shutter Island is the best recent film to use a twist for more than a “gotcha” reaction: It spurs one to think socially and pshycologically about how our mind works and the lies we all tell ourselves, then allows us to extrapolate that to how the little lies we make ourselves believe daily (we aren’t annoying, we are a model employee, we are an excellent person) could become an entire alternative reality under traumatic circumstances. Bear with me: I don’t mean to bash anyone’s personal favorites. I think if a film becomes timeless and moving to you, it’s excellent and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Hardly anyone has ever heard of my favorite film – Koyannaskaski (not a twist movie, by the way, and never understood enough on a deep level to be ranked as a classic for its sans dialogue storytelling via juxtaposed imagery). But, it doesn’t bother me. It’s still in my Top 100 collection, which I physically have kept ordered since 1989 (first VHS & then DVD & now digital) and reorder monthly. It’s what matters to you that makes it great. Would you watch it over and over if it’s the only movie you owned? That’s my simple test. Fallen was excellent, I thought, with no one I know of realizing Denzel’s Voiceover at the beginning was the angel. But the cat conclusion ruined it for me (what about a bird, squirrel, raccoon, etc.?) The demon was billed to inhabit the soul, and with my apologies to those who believe cats have souls, it ruined it for me. Still liked it; of course, what’s not to like about all but a couple of Denzel movies. Memento was good in that it showed how both we and others can manipulate our desired realities. To the Sixth Sense lovers, I’m so sorry: It was the best twist I ever saw at the time, but the twist WAS the movie. The REVEAL was the “aha,” and that was that. Unbreakable was interesting, but implausible (outside ComicCon land) and really a sad follow to Sixth Sense. I like the blogger’s list and all the comments. Very good stuff from everyone. The Exam has a pretty good twist, too, but has terrible plot development and lots of other problems, including some upfront and overt foreshadowing. I’d like to touch on all of them, but I’ll just say Shawshank is my personal favorite that has great acting, interesting dialogue, character development plus a twist and reveal that is not the crux of the story. Take away the twist and you still love the movie. But that’s just me.

  • Kyrissa

    The Fight Club twist ending was much more effective in print than on the screen. It blew my mind when I read the book, before watching the movie. The movie was a great adaptation of the book but there are a few things that books are just better at presenting effectively.

  • dale

    the best twist in a movie to me was The Mexican with brad pitt and The Machinist with christian bale

  • Carina

    And “Remember Me” was amazing too <3
    when i saw the chalkboard in the end i was literally shouting and "NOOO!!"
    i didnt see that ending coming at all… :)

  • condy

    I thought that the Saw ending was dynamite! And I don’t even like the series, they’re terrible. However that one stood out for me.

    Otherwise, I agree with this list totally :)

  • http://top10hm.com/top-10-surprising-movie-endings/ Top 10 Lists

    I like your stuff!! movies are fabulous..

  • Jovana

    How about Butterfly effect? What twisted ending is that?

  • brady

    About the movie Fallen…I saw this as a film about a conversation between God and Denzel. Denzel played a character that was so wrapped up in himself and his accomplishments that he had lost touch with God. Now, let’s say God gives every person a test that will eventually lead them to the “Truth.” Every person gets their own test depending on who they are. Denzel’s character is a police detective, so God comes to him in the form of a crime/ mystery to be solved. I could delve more into this but I’ll keep it brief. If you look at it through these eyes though and you go back and watch the movie, you can see that the “demon”/God is actually talking to Denzel throughout the entire movie, in the form of the good guys and the bad guys. God is there to lead him to the answers, question him, comfort him, as well as antagonize him, and in the end, as in life itself, kill him. It’s a theory of the movie based on the faith that God is in the good and the bad and speaks to us all constantly. This still leaves a few interesting questions to ponder, but it makes the movie all the more powerful.

  • http://twitter.com/loch121 loch121

    Patrick bateman w/out a doubt committed the murders because the writer said he did and the director and they were always mad ppl didn’t get that.Patrick is an un reliable narrator who’s crazy so there are lapses in reality.Like the guy above said the thing was everybody was confusing Bateman w/ Paul Allen and the other guy.The other guy really got charged w/ the murders and Patrick helped jim leave the country.That comes from the email stories that go w/ the movie.PATRICK BATEMAN REALLY KILLED THOSE PPL.

  • Miro

    The sixth sense is the biggest cheat ending on your entire list.. if you re-watch the film you will see that there is absolutely no way that you could have worked it out.. How did so much time pass between his death and the end of the film without him noticing. The get out clause used in the film is just not strong enough either. Also, if the boy was too scared to approach any dead people, why would he let the dead shrink get close..

    No Country for Old Men – Just the genius of the most beautiful part of the film where the main character dies off screen is a scene that I have played over and over again to other film students and we agree how brilliant it is.. That is probably one of the most flawless films ever made.

    Citizen Kane – This “twist” will not impact the modern audience as the people who love classic cinema. The meaning is that even though he was this almighty powerful superpower, it was his childhood memories that were most important to him.

    I agree with many of your choices and I appreciate the fact that you went one step further than me and you actually put it on paper but, without trying to be personal, I would suggest that you learn a little more about film before making these lists.

  • PSU08grl

    Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, and while I may not agree with many of the ones expressed in this list, I’d really like to correct some errors in your recollection of these films.

    First off, in Identity, while one twist is that we find out in the end that all the characters that have converged on a “motel” one rainy night are actually the multiple personalities of a convicted killer, another is that one personality is killing the rest off to take over as the dominant personality. This is made all the more disturbing when it is revealed that this personality takes the form of a child (making them the least suspected throughout the film), and the prisoner is actually going to be let out of prison and transported to psychiatric facility because they think the homicidal personality was “killed off”, which is not the case. This is not supernatural; unrealistic maybe, but anyone who has studied psychology knows that dissociative identity disorder is a real condition.

    As for Saw, it can hardly be said that the protagonists “do themselves in”; you may think that one of the two men has killed himself by cutting off his own foot to get free, but Cary Elwes actually escapes by making that sacrifice; the other main character is not able to do the same and is alive, if not so well, when Jigsaw locks him alone in the room presumably to starve to death. Say what you will about the implausibility of the plot, but you can’t tell me you expected that dead body to get up and just leave like that. If not the rest, the first Saw was definitely more of a psychological horror film; it makes you think of what you could or could not do in the given situation; it also speaks to lengths a psychopath will go to do what they think “has to be done.” This movie would not have been as powerful without that ending.

    These movies in some ways explore the complexity of the human mind, and how it guides our actions; that is exciting in my opinion, and to many others I would guess by some of the responses I’ve seen to this.

  • http://www.filmjabber.com Erik Samdahl

    @Miro Thanks for your comment. There are many ways to approach film, not just as as pieces of “cinematic literature”. You choose to focus on No Country for Old Men and Citizen Kane, two very recognized movies that, frankly, don’t have twist endings, but were included on this list to counteract their inclusion on other, similar lists.

    As for The Sixth Sense, it has ending that for most people (clearly not you) elevated the film from just OK to “holy crap!” in a matter of seconds. Sure, if you analyze it like you’re a film professor, you can find flaws, but the delivery of the story and twist is extremely well done.

    While studying film at a purely intellectual level is good, worthwhile and should be done, it’s dangerous to only look at films from that perspective. Doing so tends to gloss over the entertainment value and gut punch impact of certain movies, twist movie or not.

  • http://www.filmjabber.com Erik Samdahl

    @PSU08grl – Thanks.

    In regards to Identity, though the killer’s condition is real, I take issue with the fact that protagonists in the story are merely a part of the man’s mind. Once that is determined, the suspense in regards to whether they will live or die goes away. Clearly you didn’t see it the same way, but that is my problem with the film.

    As for Saw, I agree that the first one is more of a “psychological horror” film to a degree. Where we disagree is that I strongly believe it is a horribly executed one, led by a director who was out of his element. You describe the movie as “powerful”, which was not my reaction at all. By the time the ending came around, the movie was long past saving.

  • Alex

    A few movies to add:
    - Inside Men
    - Fracture
    - The Alibi
    - Hard Candy
    - Wicker park

MOVIE BLOG