I have decided to create a collection of the best movie twists. Actually, I had originally planned on creating a list of best movie endings, but that would simply rehash the Usual Suspects. Everyone has a Sixth Sense about these types of movies and would have a list with at least Seven movies leaving the reader feeling like there was No Way Out. (All puns well intended)
I have ultimately decided to put a twist on the best movie endings list and provide my personal list of Best Movie Twists.
Spoiler Warning! I will discuss the twist of these movies after listing the movie title, so read with caution.
I have listed each movie followed by a brief explanation why this twist was so awesome:
Usual Suspects – We are setup to believe that Keaton was the mastermind, Keiser Soze and Verbal Kent was the stupid one. Turns out that Kent was Soze, and like that, he was gone.
Se7en - The levels of complexity needed to write the final outcome in this movie makes my head swim. In one scene, we see Greed and Wrath personified, with Brad Pitt reacted to seeing his wife’s head in a box.
The Sixth Sense – We are so caught up in watching Malcom Crow trying to help young Cole deal with his visions of dead people, we don’t even notice that Crow is actually dead too!
The Others – Had the wind taken out of its sails by the Sixth Sense, but still quite a twist. Quirky inhabitants of an old house that are presumably being haunted by ghosts and in fact ghosts themselves unwittingly haunting others.
Planet of the Apes (1968) – George Taylor finds himself on planet completely habitated by apes. However, this is not a new planet at all, it is Earth!
Primal Fear – Scizophrenic Aaron Stampler is accused of murder. After his star lawyer, Martin Vail gets him off, we learn that Stampler is not the true identity, the evil Roy is in charge, and that he DID commit the murder!
Identity - 10 strangers are trapped in a secluded motel and get killed off one by one. The strangers are not actual people, but specific personalities of a man with Multiple Personality Disorder “cleansing” himself of other personalities. When it seems that the murderous personality is gone, we find out that the young (assumingnly innocent) boy personality is the murderous personality, and he is about to kill the last remaining personality.
The Game – Nicholas receives a birthday gift from estranged brother, Conrad, which is supposed to be a game, but leaves Nicholas running for his life. In what should have been a fall to his death, Nicholas crashes into his own birthday party thrown by Conrad, proving that all the events were part of the game.
Chinatown - I don’t think I can do this one justice. Too many things going on to explain in a summary. Go rent it.
Frailty - Fenton Meiks confesses to FBI Agent Wesley Doyle about his father’s religious visions leads him to kill “demons” that have taken over individuals. We learn that Adam has taken over the identity of his slain brother, Fenton and was behind these killings. Then we learn that Doyle was really a demon, and that Adam is doing the right thing by killing him.
Secret Window – Mort Rainey gets a visit from John Shooter, accusing Mort of stealing his story. Rainey made up the persona of John Shooter to help him commit several murders.
Fallen - An evil spirit, Azazel takes control over any living being to commit murder. Detective Hobbes attempts to kill Azazel by poisoning himself while possessed by the evil spirit. Just before Hobbes dies, Azazel “jumps” over to a stray cat to continue on.
Mulholland Drive – If I couldn’t do Chinatown, did you really think that I could do this non-linear escapade?
Matchstick Men – Con man Roy Waller gets conned himself by his long time partner, Frank, who brings in a young girl to play the part of Roy’s long lost (non-existent) daughter to help get Roy’s money.
The Player – Hollywood producer Griffin Mill is being harassed by a writer whose script he recently rejected. During a fit of rage from the harassment, Mill kills the writer, but it turns out to be the wrong one.
The Devil’s Advocate – Lawyer Kevin Lomax dreams up an elaborate tale of being the son of Satan when he considers cashing in his integrity to win a case, although the devil still has plans to intervene, albeit subtlely.
Deathtrap - Playwright Sidney Bruel and his student Clifford successfully hatch a scheme to kill Sidney’s wife. In the process, Sidney steals Clifford’s play to use as his own. They end up murdering each other, found by mystical neighbor Helga, who uses these events in her own play which ends up as a smash success.
Crying Game – IRA fugitive Fergus escapes to London and creates the persona of Jimmy and meets another prisoner’s lover, Gil. Turns out that Gil is a man, man!
No Way Out – Kevin Costner spends the entire movie trying to prove that he is not the mysterious Russian spy, Yuri. At the end, you find out that Costner is in fact, Yuri!
Arlington Road – Terrorist expert and college professor Michael Faraday is convinced that his new neighbor, Oliver Lang is a terrorist. In a strange turn of events, Lang dupes Faraday into bombing an FBI building.