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.

Here are my TOP 5 SHOCKING HORROR MOVIE TWISTS. Enjoy! And of course, Spoilers Ahead.

#5 Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978 version)

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Caption says: Me when someone cuts in line in front of me 🙂

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!

Here’s a bit of trivia for you, the actress Brooke Adams didn’t know how the movie was going to end, so her reaction is 100 per cent legit.

#4 The Mist

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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.

With The Mist, Frank Darabont (director and writer) manages to out-king Stephen King himself by changing the ending from what we get in the novel and giving audiences a twist that not only shocked you, but left you dumbstruck in your seat. No one wanted to believe that’s how this story ends, but the more you think about it, the more you have to give him praise for pulling off one of the best twist endings in recent movie history.

#3 Se7en

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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.

Before then you were watching this movie, enjoying the suspense and the chase, the relationships between Morgan Freeman’s Somerset, Mills and even Gwyneth Paltrow’s Tracy. But then that box is opened and you glimpse Tracy’s head looking back at you. And then Kevin Spacey’s John Doe icily adds the fact that she was pregnant to this already gut-wrenching moment. Well, as much as we wanted John Doe to pay for his crimes, seeing him get shot to death on the spot was something we could all understand.

#2 Sleepaway Camp

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PLOT: Angela Baker, a traumatised and very shy young girl, is sent to summer camp with her cousin. Shortly after her arrival, anyone with sinister or less than honourable intentions gets their comeuppance.
SET UP AND TWIST: Oh Boy! So this one may not have aged as well as the others, but for more politically correct reasons than anything else.
You see, while this movie plays like a hundred other slasher flicks that existed in the awesome era of horror called the 80’s, the twist ending we got was one for the record books. It’s revealed in a flashback that the real Angela died in an accident and her brother Peter survived. When his crazy aunt gains custody, she decides girls are much more fun than boys and forces poor Petey to live as one.
This fact is revealed to the audience in all its gory glory as our shocked protagonist stands staring at a naked, bloody Angela/Peter, while she/he gives Donald Sutherland a run for his money in the blood-curdling scream department. I saw this as a teen and to say it left me shell-shocked is an understatement.

 

Honourable Mention: Orphan

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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.

#1 Psycho

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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!

The first of course, was Marion being stabbed to death in the shower. Alfred Hitchcock never did conventional, and I love thinking of how audiences must have lost their minds to see the character you THINK is the lead freakin’ die halfway into this movie. But the ultimate twist (the best kind of twist usually comes at the end) is the reveal that Norman’s mother wasn’t the killer, but that it was little ole’ Norman dressed up as Mommy all this time. And this twist has gone down in movie history as one of the all-time greatest, if not THE greatest twist ending ever!

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

Sommerleigh Pollonais