Sommerleigh Pollonais, Senior Writer
So if you ask someone to name an awesome movie twist, there’s a 90 per cent chance, they’ll name drop The Sixth Sense and M. Night Shamalalanan (sorry, couldn’t help myself) Shyamalan.
To most mainstream audiences, it seems like he invented this trope. But the truth is, there have been shockingly, wondrous story twists, long before he came along. A good twist is one you rarely ever see coming and it instantly makes you question everything you saw prior to the big reveal. And it makes you ask yourself, “how did I not see that coming?!” It stays with you, long after the credits have scrolled away.
#5 Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978 version)
PLOT: In San Francisco, a group of people discover the human race is being replaced one by one with clones devoid of emotion.
SET UP AND TWIST: There have been so many remakes of this movie I’ve lost count but the version I’m looking at is the 1978 one starring the always debonair Donald Sutherland as our main protagonist Matthew, and Brooke Adams as his love interest Elizabeth.
It was a truly rare thing back then to have a movie end without the heroes saving the day so when Elizabeth, who is currently pretending to be a clone by hiding her emotions, spots Matthew in the street, she’s understandably happy and makes the mistake of showing it. Matthew, however, is not the man she knew as he’s also been replaced and reveals it to her by pointing towards Liz and making a sound that can only be described as unfiltered nightmare fuel!
#4 The Mist
PLOT: A freak storm unleashes a species of bloodthirsty creatures on a small town, where a small band of citizens hole up in a supermarket and fight for their lives.
SET UP AND TWIST: After hunkering down in a nearby supermarket and thinking they weren’t gonna survive (some of the humans inside were worse than the monsters trying to break in) our band of heroes decide to make a break for it and drive outta town. When they run out of gas they think the only option is to end it on their terms, with Tom Jane’s David having the unenviable job of having to shoot everyone, including his own son, and then finding a way to end his life (there aren’t enough bullets). The camera pans outside of the vehicle and we see the muzzle flare of the gun through the mist. David steps out of the car and awaits his grizzly fate, as he hears what he thinks is one of the creatures coming through the fog…only to see, to his utter despair, it’s the military, finally arriving to save them.
PLOT: Two detectives, a rookie and a veteran, hunt a serial killer who uses the seven deadly sins as his motive.
SET UP AND TWIST: “WHAT’S IN THE BOX?!!” has become one of the most quotable movie lines for a reason: a shocking twist that none of us saw coming. What makes this so iconic for me is in that moment you the viewer totally step into the shoes of Brad Pitt’s character Mills.
#2 Sleepaway Camp
Honourable Mention: Orphan
PLOT: A husband and wife who recently lost their baby adopt a 9 year-old girl who is not nearly as innocent as she claims to be.
SET UP AND TWIST: This was a doozy of a reveal that caught most of the movie-going audience totally off-guard. Esther seems to be a slightly odd, but very intelligent (one would even say, wise beyond her years) nine-year-old girl. So when she starts seducing her foster dad John played by Peter Sarsgarrd, your initial response is a hearty EEEWWW! Until it hits you: that ain’t no kid, that’s a grown ass, crazy ass woman!
Not to boast (totally boasting here) but I figured it out. That said, even though this villain showed her hand about halfway through the movie, it doesn’t make it any less impactful and the solid acting by Isabelle Fuhrman as Esther, accompanied by a knockdown, drag-out thrilling ending, makes this twist a helluva fun ride.
PLOT: A Phoenix secretary embezzles forty thousand dollars from her employer’s client, goes on the run, and checks into a remote motel run by a young man under the domination of his mother.
SET UP AND TWIST: I might be wrong, so don’t quote me on this one, but I honestly think this was the first movie twist ever brought to screen. You know what the really cool part is, you could argue that this movie has TWO of them!
There you have it folks. I’m sorry if I spoiled any of these for you. But to be fair, these films have been out for ages, so if you missed it, that one’s on you! Never fear though as with the likes of Jordan Peele, Frank Darabont and James Wan keeping horror alive and kicking in the 21st century, you can bet your future therapy sessions there will be lots more of these mind-blowing twists to keep us horror fans excited for a long, long time.
For my ranking of the Top 6 Horror Movie Theme Music you can click here.