A plot twist in a movie can leave you astounded and desperate to watch it all over again to make sense of it all. What do you think makes a great plot twist? Well, one that you never saw coming. A great ending, doesn’t just end with a baffling twist, it should have had clues lurking throughout the movie to back up the ending. Here are some of the movies with great plot twists.
Note: This article contains spoilers.
10. Psycho (1969)
Director: Alfred Hitchcock / Writers: Joseph Stefano, based on the novel by Robert Bloch
Psycho, a psychological horror thriller, shocked audiences in 1960 with its plot twist and is considered Hitchcock’s best film.
Plot – tells the story of Marion Crane who steals from her employer and ends up at the Bates Motel in Fairvale, California. Marion is murdered at the desolate motel by the mentally ill mother of the owner, Norman Bates.
Twist – Norman Bates killed his mother years ago. He develops a split personality that makes him believe that he is the mother. He murdered Marion disguised as the mother. One freaky twist!
9. Primal Fear (1996)
Director: Gregory Hoblit / Writers: Steve Shagan and Ann Biderman, based on William Diehl’s 1993 novel.
Primal Fear, an American neo-noir crime-thriller film, was a box office success and earned mostly positive reviews.
Plot – Tells a story about a Chicago’s defense attorney, Martin Vail, and his latest client, an altar boy named Aaron Stamper, who is not guilty of murdering an influential archbishop. Aaron suffers from multiple personality disorder and blames the murder on his alter ego, “Roy”.
Twist – Now for the twist, Aaron really does not suffer from multiple personality disorder, he fakes it. His true personality is that of the sociopathic Roy who killed the archbishop.
8. American Psycho (2000)
Director: Mary Harron / Writer: Mary Harron and Guinevere Turner, based on the novel by Bret Easton Ellis.
American Psycho, a 2000 American-Canadian psychological thriller/black comedy film, received positive reviews in critical publications. The New York Times went on to describe this film as a “mean and lean horror comedy classic”.
Plot – The movie revolves around Patrick Bateman who is a wealthy and entitled businessman in the 1980s in New York City. That’s not all there is to Patrick Bateman, he also leads a double life as a serial killer.
Twist – During the final scenes of the movies, Bateman learns that many of his victims who are supposed to be dead, are still very much alive. How? He may have imagined the entire scenario.
7. Shutter Island (2010)
Director: Martin Scorsese / Writer: Laeta Kalogridis, based on the novel by Dennis Lehane
Shutter Island is a 2010 American neo-noir mystery psychological thriller film written by the king of crime writing himself and directed by on the of Hollywood’s best.
Plot – A paranoid detective, Teddy Daniels, is sent to an island to investigate a psychiatric facility on Shutter Island after one of the patients, Rachel Solando goes missing, who was incarcerated for drowning her own children.
Twist – Teddy Daniels, is actually Andrew Laeddis, who is incarcerated for murdering his wife (Rachel) who killed their three children. The search for Rachel is a game fixed to shake him from his insanity.
6. Fight Club (1999)
Director: David Fincher / Writer: Jim Uhls, based on the book by Chuck Palahniuk.
FIght Club, a 1999 American drama film, is one of the most popular ‘plot twist’ movies out there, it’s ending took everyone by surprise.
Plot – An unnamed narrator, a depressed insomniac addicted to support groups, is portrayed as a man who is discontented with his white collar job. He starts a fight club with his new friend, Tyler Durden. Durden starts to assemble more fight clubs with a large group of followers that turns into a national movement.
Twist – The narrator is suffering from DID, Dissociative Identity Disorder. The narrator and Durden are the same person.
5. The Prestige (2006)
Director: Christopher Nolan / Writers: Jonathan Nolan, Christopher Nolan, based on the novel by Christopher Priest
The Prestige, a 2006 mystery thriller drama film, is a brilliant film containing twists followed by more twists leaving us puzzled with what the actual final twist is.
Plot – Set in 19th century London, Robert Angier and Alfred Borden, rival stage magicians, are obsessed with creating the best stage illusion in order to outdo each other. One becomes so obsessed with how the other pulls off his teleportation trick, the Transported Man, that he goes to great lengths to copy it.
Twist – How did the pull it off? Borden, is actually one of two twins, that is how they pulled off most of their illusions. Whereas Angier clones himself to copy his tricks. That’s not all he did – he killed each clone after every trick.
4. The Others (2001)
Director: Alejandro Amenábar / Writers: Alejandro Amenábar
The Others is a 2001 Spanish-American supernatural gothic horror film with aspects of a psychological thriller film.
Plot – Grace Stewart and her two children live in a lonely old mansion waiting for her husband to return from World War II. She becomes convinced that her house is haunted.
Twist – The ghosts are Grace and her children. Grace kills her children in a bout of insanity and never realizes it.
3. Secret Window (2004)
Director: David Koepp / Writers: David Koepp, based on the novel by Stephen King
Secret Window is a 2004 American psychological thriller film.
Plot – Mort Rainey, a successful author, currently undergoing writer’s block and trying to come to terms with his wife’s affair, withdraws to the country. Here, he is harassed by a strange man, John Shooter, who claims that Mort has plagiarized his work. Strange incomprehensible things start to happen – his dog is killed, his wife’s house is set on fire and what more? He stumbles across a murder.
Twist – Mort suffers from DID, if you are thinking that Shooter is Mort, you are right! All those strange things that were going on, Mort was responsible for it. He doesn’t stop there, when his wife and her lover come with divorce papers, he kills them both.
2. Sixth Sense (1999)
Director and writer: M. Night Shyamalan
The Sixth Sense, a 1999 American supernatural horror-thriller film, received positive reviews and was the second highest grossing film of that year.
Plot – A troubled, isolated young boy has a dark secret: he is visited by ghosts. To help him, a child psychologist, Dr. Malcolm Crowe, is sent in whom the boy confides his secret. Discovering that the boy may be speaking the truth, he encourages the boy to see if he is able to help them rather than be a victim.
Twist – Actually, Dr. Crowe is dead.
1. Seven (1995)
Director: David Fincher / Writers: Andrew Kevin Walker
Seven. also written as SE7EN, is a 1995 American mystery neo-noir psychological thriller film.
Plot – Retiring police Detective Somerset, tackles his last case with the help of a newly transferred detective, David Mills. They discover some gruesome murders and realize that the serial killer is using the seven deadly sins as his modus operandi.
Twist – The serial killer, John Doe, offers Somerset and Mills, to lead them to the final two bodies that completes the seven deadly sins. When the detectives arrive at the location in the middle of a desert, Somerset gets a box delivered. In it, they find the head of Mill’s wife. Doe concedes he killed her out of envy which the sixth cardinal sin. He goes on to challenge Mills to kill him out of wrath making it the seventh and final sin.
Honorable mentions: Citizen Kane (1941), Planet of the Apes (1968), Chinatown (1974), Friday the 13th (1980), The Usual Suspects (1995), The Game (1997), Fallen (1998), Memento (2000), Donnie Darko (2001), The Village (2004), Saw (2004), Gone Baby Gone (2007), Orphan (2009), The Machinist (2004), Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980).