They can shock us, please us or downright terrify us but there’s no denying that everyone appreciates a good twist ending. Despite being somewhat…well, ruined by M. Night Shyamalan these days, twist endings are a feature of cinema that can completely change the tone of a film, and even more so when it’s watched for the second time. It took a while to narrow them down, but after careful consideration, here are our top five movies with a twist ending. And of course, big-time spoiler alert here.
5) Planet Of The Apes (1968)
The original film that started a saga which is still going on today, Planet Of The Apes was a marvel in special effect, as viewers were treated to the sight of Charlton Heston surrounded by humanoid apes that had seemingly taken over a strange planet. The shock on Heston’s face, along with his scream of “YOU MANIACS!”, was mirrored on the faces of audiences everywhere, when they learned that the apes’ homeworld was not a distant planet – it was in fact Earth, during a future where apes had overthrown humanity.
4) Fight Club (1999)
When people are stressed out, or suffering from insomnia, the normal thing to do would be to seek help from a doctor. However, Ed Norton’s unnamed narrator instead decides to hang out with his new friend Tyler Durden a little too much, resulting in them setting up the eponymous Fight Club. The scenes of brutal, bare-knuckle violence were a little shocking, but they didn’t compare to the startling revelation that the narrator and Tyler weren’t friends – they were the same person, a split personality resulting from the narrator’s insomnia.
3) Psycho (1960)
Considered to be the forefather of slasher movies (it’s actually Peeping Tom, but that’s another story), Psycho brought new acceptance of the level of violence, sexuality and…unusual behaviour in American cinema. Unusual behaviour here comprising of a charming young man, Norman Bates, who is seemingly controlled by his overbearing mother, but in reality, is a victim of a personality split between his own, and his long-dead mother. His long-dead mother whose corpse sits exhumed on a rocking chair in the attic of the Bates Motel. We still get shivers whenever we think about it.
2) Primal Fear (1996)
Ed Norton really needs to get a handle on split personalities, doesn’t he? In this critically-acclaimed courtroom drama, Norton plays a seemingly innocent altar boy named Aaron Stampler, who, after suffering blackouts, wakes up as a sadistic serial killer called Roy – and right in the middle of his murder trial, too. Richard Gere does a stellar job as Martin Vail, Aaron’s lawyer who eventually wins the case when Aaron/Roy is found not guilty by reason of insanity….only to find out that the personality split was completely fabricated. As Roy chillingly puts it himself, “there was never an Aaron, counselor.”
1) The Sixth Sense
M. Night Shyamalan had to show up somewhere, and given that he gave us what is arguably one of the greatest twists in cinema history, it’s easy to see why we gave him the top spot. The story of Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis) a child psychiatrist who was shot by a former patient, then recovered only to find his marriage and his life in tatters, and Cole Sears (Haley Joel Osment), Crowe’s latest patient who claims to be able to see ghosts, The Sixth Sense is everything it needs to be even without the twist ending. When we view it a second time, we’re able to spot the various clues throughout the film – the reason that Crowe’s life is a shambles and his wife seems distant is that Crowe was killed after his former student shot him, and Cole’s utterance of “I see people. They don’t know they’re dead,” ringing true, hitting us harder than the bullet that killed Crowe.
Do you have a favourite ending that came out of nowhere? Leave it in the comments!