10 Movies With Wild Plot Twists No-One Saw Coming

Content Warning: the following article contains mention of sexual violenceNothing creates a buzz among filmgoers quite like movies with wild plot twists. Sometimes, a windy plot is just part of the film’s genre. When it comes to horror movies and thrillers, a didn’t-see-that-coming-style turn can elevate even the most generic fare into something worth recommending and revisiting. Some films are remembered solely for being movies with wild plot twists — à la most M. Night Shyamalan-directed features — while others slip in a reveal that shakes up an already engaging flick.

Although there are certainly dozens of movies with wild plot twists no one saw coming, a few really stand out. From the inventive horror films of Jordan Peele to the always mind-bending work of Christopher Nolan, there’s no denying the power of a first-rate reveal. When it comes to the best movies with unexpected plot twists, films that are elevated by their plot pivots — and evidence that a surprising-yet-inevitable ending really is the best sort of conclusion — make for must-see cinema.

10 Parasite

Song Kang-ho looks up from the basement in Bong Joon-ho's Parasite

By mixing elements of thrillers and black comedy, director and co-writer Bong Joon-ho crafted a near-perfect film in 2019’s Parasite. The first South Korean film to win the prestigious Palme d’Or at Cannes Film Festival, Parasite went on to make history on the awards circuit, earning the four main accolades at the 92nd Academy Awards. Parasite never lets viewers settle in, trading familiar narrative beats for genre-spanning twists and turns that explore the nature of class conflict and inequality.

Struggling to stay afloat in their basement flat, the four members of the Kim family scheme to work for the well-off Park family.While the Parks are away on a camping trip, the Kims revel in the Parks’ luxuries, until the family’s longtime housekeeper, Moon-gwang, shows up to care for her husband, who’s been covertly living in the hidden basement bunker beneath the Parks’ home. At odds, the Parasite characters turn to blackmail and violence to keep their schemes alive.

9 Gone Girl

Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike meet in a bookstore in David Fincher's Gone Girl-1

Based on Gillian Flynn’s best-selling novel of the same name, David Fincher’s Gone Girl has been hailed as one of the best book-to-film adaptations of all time. The sum of Gone Girl’s impressive parts — a haunting score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, Fincher’s startling imagery, and Rosamund Pike’s pitch-perfect performance — makes this twisty film perhaps even better than the source material.

Pike plays Amy Dunne, a woman who goes missing on her fifth wedding anniversary. Amy’s disappearance, which turns into a media circus, is pinned on her undependable husband, Nick (Ben Affleck). In the book, readers suddenly find the story narrated by a very-much-alive Amy, who plotted out the perfect crime — her supposed death — at Nick’s hands. As she and Nick jostle for control of the narrative, Amy proves to be a master manipulator — a character who’s either a textbook villain, clever antihero, or, maybe, a little bit of both.

8 The Others

Nicole Kidman holds lantern in The Others

Alejandro Amenábar’s The Others is one of those rare horror movies that holds up to a rewatch, especially after the film’s big reveal. Set in 1945, The Others sees Nicole Kidman plays Grace Stewart, a young mother of two children — Anne and Nicholas — who live with a strange illness that renders them unable to tolerate sunlight. To help maintain their remote house, Grace hires a housekeeper and gardener, both of whom claimed to have worked at the house before.

In truth Gothic horror fashion, The Others is an atmospheric film — one that finds its characters haunted by their wartime experiences as well as a presence. These so-called “others” claim the house belongs to them, and, in the end, they aren’t wrong. The reveal flips the typical haunted house script on its head: Grace and her children are dead. Cleverly, they are the titular “others” who haunt the halls of a young family’s home.

7 Us

Lupita Nyong'o's characters, Red and Adelaide, fight each other at the end of Jordan Peele's Us

While Jordan Peele’s first feature, Get Out, is another movie with wild plot twists, the writer-director’s sophomore outing, Us, cemented Peele as the reigning king of horror and suspense. In Us, Lupita Nyong’o stars as Adelaide Wilson, a woman who had a troubling encounter on the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk as a child, but revisits the site with her own family while on summer vacation. Soon enough, Adelaide and her family are attacked by their red jumpsuit-wearing doppelgängers.

Adelaide’s counterpart, Red (also Nyong’o) explains that this mass of doppelgängers wreaking havoc on the country are called “Tethered” — they are a soul with their counterparts but want to cut the cord. The reveal of whom the Tethered are — genetic clones meant to control their surface-dwelling originals — is quite the reveal, but what’s really haunting is the final twist: when Red and Adelaide met as girls on the boardwalk, they switched places. Red was the original — and Adelaide is the clone.

6 The Sixth Sense

Hayley Joel Osment speaks with Bruce Willis in The Sixth Sense

Even viewers who haven’t seen M. Night Shyamalan’s breakthrough film probably know the classic twist, but that doesn’t take away from The Sixth Sense or its pop culture footprint. Here, Bruce Willis plays decorated child psychologist Malcolm Crowe, who’s shot by his frustrated former patient, Vincent. A few months after the attack, Malcolm begins working with Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment).

For Malcolm, helping Cole feels like a fitting way to redeem himself in the wake of failing Vincent. But Cole’s challenges aren’t textbook; the young boy says he can see dead people, ghosts walking around the world of the living, completely unaware that they’re no longer alive. The twist, of course, is that Malcolm is one of those dead people. The Sixth Sense laid the foundation for Shyamalan’s future reputation as the master of the plot twist, something he perfects in works like The Village and The Visit.

5 Arrival

Amy Adams tries to communicate with the aliens in Arrival

Directed by Dune’s Denis Villeneuve, Arrival stars Amy Adams as linguist Louise Banks, who’s hired by the U.S. Army’s Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) for a very important purpose. As the title implies, extraterrestrials have arrived on Earth — 12 spacecraft hover above various countries across the planet — and while physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) monitors them, the Army wants Louise to find a means of communicating with the aliens before war breaks out between the two species.

As Louise studies the extraterrestrial’s circular symbols, she has visions of her late daughter. When Louise and Ian finally learn that the aliens want the Earth’s various nations to share their findings — each spacecraft holds a different part of their message — it’s too late. Scared off by the alien’s use of the word “weapon,” other nations start to panic — even though the aliens have actually come to aid humankind. In Arrival‘s twist ending, the language itself is the “weapon;” learning how to discern it alters one’s perception of time as linear, so Louise’s visions of her daughter aren’t flashbacks, but premonitions.

4 Sorry to Bother You

LaKeith Stanfield's Cash in the office call center in Sorry to Bother You by Boots Riley

Boots Riley’s directorial debut, Sorry to Bother You, incorporates the black comedy-driven writing, anti-capitalist view point, and surrealist elements that make up the filmmaker’s signature style. Not to mention, Sorry to Bother You has an especially wild (and surreal) twist. The film centers on Cassius “Cash” Green (LaKeith Stanfield), a Black telemarketer who adopts a white voice to succeed at his workplace, WorryFree.

Succeed Cash does. However, selling his soul and all that financial freedom causes a rift between Cash and his best friend, Squeeze (Steven Yeun), a labor rights activist, as well as his girlfriend, Detroit (Tessa Thompson), an anti-capitalist performance artist. At a company party, Cash snorts a gene-modifying powder developed by WorryFree that turns its employees into literal work horses.

3 Remember Me

Robert Pattinson stares out the window of the World Trade Center in Remember Me

Billed as a coming-of-age romantic drama, Remember Me may not be the most well-reviewed film, but it certainly boasts an unpredictable plot twist. Robert Pattinson stars as Tyler Hawkins, a college-aged man who audits classes, works at a bookstore, and takes care of his younger sister Caroline. Their wealthy businessman father, Charles (Pierce Brosnan), remains absent, especially in the wake of their brother, Michael’s, recent death. Quick to anger, given everything he’s shouldering, Tyler attacks some bullies at Caroline’s school.

Instead of being disappointed in his son, Charles is encouraged to spend more time with his kids, even if he’s still dealing with grief. Happy to hear his dad is taking Caroline to school, Tyler waits at Charles’ office. It seems like a hopeful ending at first — a family rebuilding things — but then the twist comes. Caroline’s teacher writes the date on the blackboard — Tuesday, September 11, 2001 — and it’s revealed that Tyler is waiting in his father’s office in the North Tower of the World Trade Center. A poorly received film, Remember Me has been criticized for exploiting the September 11 attacks.

2 Promising Young Woman

Carey Mulligan smears her lipstick in mirror in Promising Young Woman

Another black comedy, Promising Young Woman was written and directed by Emerald Fennell and stars Carey Mulligan as med school dropout Cassie Thomas, who left school after her classmate, Al (Chris Lowell), raped her best friend, Nina. The school decided not to investigate the assault, so Al didn’t face any legal consequences; Nina, on the other hand, lost her life. Haunted by the past, Cassie can’t escape her trauma and spends her time getting seemingly drunk in bars. When men try to take advantage of her, Cassie reveals her sobriety.

On one of these nights, Ryan (Bo Burnham), another of Cassie’s former classmates, reveals that Al is getting married soon. This encourages Cassie to plot out an elaborate revenge scheme to ruin Al and the people who did nothing to help Nina. At Al’s bachelor party, Cassie poses as a stripper and begins to enact a violent revenge — Al kills Cassie in the process, but Cassie planned for that turn. At Al’s wedding, Ryan receives a bunch of pre-scheduled messages from Cassie, proving Al’s assault of Nina. In the end, Al is arrested during his wedding reception for both crimes.

1 The Prestige

Hugh Jackman holds a lightbulb and speaks with David Bowie's Tesla in Christopher Nolan's The Prestige

Based on a novel of the same name, Christopher Nolan’s psychological thriller, The Prestige, stars Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale as rival magicians, Robert and Alfred. Their central feud is over one of their more astonishing tricks — on-stage teleportation. At first, the two magicians worked together, learning the ins-and-outs of engineering elaborate tricks, but then, during a water tank trick, Robert’s wife dies, and he blames Alfred.

From there, the two become rivals, and Alfred develops something revolutionary — “The Transported Man” trick. As the name implies, Alfred seemingly travels between wardrobes on opposite ends of the stage. Eager to figure the act out, Robert seeks the help of Nikola Tesla (David Bowie), who builds him a machine to assist with the trick. In the end, it’s revealed that Alfred has an identical twin, hence his ability to perform the trick. Robert, meanwhile, creates a new copy of himself each time he performs the trick with Tesla’s machine, leaving one version of himself to drown, nightly.

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