You know the feeling. You're watching a movie and you're loving it. Like really loving it. You're thinking "Wow, I think I may actually be watching a really great movie!" And then it happens: a plot twist so dumb, so inane, so nonsensical that it sends the film into a tailspin that it simply cannot recover from. When the credits roll, you're filled with sadness and anger -- everything was going so well until that stupid plot twist!
Join us as we take a look back at what happens when bad plot twists happen to good movies. Here are ten awful plot twists that derailed movies that, up until that point, we were enjoying.
Obviously MAJOR SPOILERS ahead!
'The Village' has developed such a rotten reputation over the years that many people forget just how strong the first half of the film really is. For the first hour or so, it truly feels like it's cut from the same cloth as M. Night Shyamalan's strongest films, something that can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with 'The Sixth Sense.' An isolated village in the middle of the woods finds its "truce" broken with the monsters in the surrounding forest and the result is a few truly chilling horror setpieces...and then it's revealed that the monsters aren't real and are just the town elders, in costume, keeping their people in line. With the horror already rendered null and void, Shyamalan delivers the final insult in the closing moments, revealing that the entire movie has been taking place in the modern day all along, raising all kinds of bewildering logical questions.
Like its source novel, 95% of 'Life of Pi' is a gorgeous, heartbreaking and truly original work. But then the ending rolls around, knees you in the stomach and wags its finger at you for enjoying everything that you've seen. It turns out that the story of the boy attempting to survive on a lifeboat with only a tiger for company is a bold faced lie, a fanciful story concocted to cover up the fact that the boy watched another survivor kill his mother before he killed him. You see, the tiger is a metaphor for...whatever. All of those beautiful, amazing and thrilling things you just saw were all made up. Which is the point, but that doesn't make it any less insulting.
The big twist ending to 'High Tension' is so nonsensical that it's almost admirable. Almost. After a disgusting slasher-killer abducts a farm girl and kills her family, it's up to her visiting friend to track down the killer and avoid getting gutted/decapitated/mutilated herself. It's a simple set-up, but it's directed with style and nerve, filled with enough gore to please the hardest horror fans. But then comes the twist ending: our heroine has been the killer all along! In addition to not making logical sense (if she's the murderer, why are there stand alone scenes with the killer away from all of the action?), it's one of the most overused plot twists in out there, making the film feel less like a stylish genre effort and more like a stylish collection of cliches.
Like 'High Tension,' 'Identity' is fun, well-made horror movie that's all but rendered moot by its ludicrous high concept ending. A murderer's row of terrific actors (including John Cusack, Ray Liotta, Amanda Peet, John Hawkes and Alfred Molina) play a group of strangers stranded in a hotel during a major storm who must band together when someone starts killing them off one by one. It's a nice slasher take on Agatha Christie and when the ending rolls around, you'll wish it had stayed that simple. It's revealed that the entire movie has taken place inside the mind of a mentally ill man and his "evil" personality has been killing off his sympathetic and normal personalities. It's just as bad as it sounds.
Although the big twist in Pixar's 'Brave' is pretty bad, a certain share of blame has to go to the marketing for the film, which sidestepped the actual plot and gave audiences a real bait and switch. The film was sold as a coming-of-age tale about a Scottish princess rebelling against her controlling family who want to force her into marriage...but it's actually about the princess' mom getting magically turned into a bear. It's a jarring and painfully uninteresting left turn that completely derails an otherwise gorgeously animated and often amusing adventure.
Christopher Nolan's third Batman movie has its fair share of huge problems, but many of them are forgivable thanks to the sheer scope and ambition of the whole thing. However, a last minute twist undermines both the climax of the film and its most memorable villain. The revelation that Marion Cotillard's Miranda Tate is actually the daughter of the villainous Ra's Al Ghul is a surprising moment, but it happens too late in the movie to carry any real weight and it immediately defangs Tom Hardy's truly strange and endlessly amusing Bane (who is then dispatched in the most offhanded way imaginable). All we have left is a final chase where the really interesting bad guy is gone and in his place is a last minute fill-in.
The first half of 'Hancock' is no masterpiece, but it's a big slice of silly fun, the kind of movie that Will Smith has built his career on. Smith's drunken, irresponsible superhero is a fun character and watching him attempt to get his act together is a lot of fun. But then we learn that he's some kind of ancient god...and that he used to be married to Charlize Theron's character...and that she's a superhero too. 'Hancock' forces a boatload of half-baked mythology into a fun superhero riff and the result is a film with two distinct halves -- the entertaining half and the bloated, dull, eye-rollingly bad half.
Frank Darabont's adaptation of Stephen King's 'The Mist' is pitch perfect for most of its running time, telling the story of a mysterious fog full of monstrous creatures that envelopes a small town, trapping a few dozen people in the local grocery store. Naturally, things go from bad (monsters!) to worse (bigger monsters!) to apocalyptic (religious nutbag rallies the townfolk around her special brand of crazy) and a small group led by Thomas Jane manage to escape. They drive until they run out of gas and then, seeing no end to the mist, pass around a revolver and start offing themselves and each other. After Jane uses the last bullet on his young son, he steps outside to let the monsters kill him, only to find that the military has arrived and the mist is dissipating. It's an overly nihilistic ending that's a gut punch in all of the wrong ways, trading King's mysterious open ending for something that's shocking for the sake of being shocking.
'The Empire Strikes Back' may have offered one of the best twists in movie history, but 'Return of the Jedi' offers one of the most useless. In retrospect, how stupid is it that Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker are brother and sister? First, it makes the sexual tension between the two of them in the original 'Star Wars' retroactively creepy and terrible in every possible way. Second, it makes the 'Star Wars' universe feel that much smaller -- by making two characters who otherwise have nothing in common siblings, the trilogy stops being about a galactic struggle and starts being about a dysfunctional family. 'Return of the Jedi' has its fair share of problems (it's easily the worst of the original trilogy), but this one is a bit of a nightmare.
To look at Danny Boyle's 'Sunshine' is to wonder what could have been. The story of a spaceship with a mission to reignite our dying sun with an explosive package the size of Manhattan, the film mines terror out the loneliness of being so far from home and the sheer difficulty of the crew's suicide mission. For its first half, 'Sunshine' is an existential sci-fi horror movie, something truly unique and special. And then our heroes encounter the missing ship that attempted their mission before them. And then see meet the ship's captain, who has gone insane and killed his crew. And then the insane captain tries to kill everyone else. By introducing a one-dimensional horror movie villain into such an elegant and original science fiction movie, 'Sunshine' stops being about remaining human in the face of impossible odds and starts being about running from a scary bad man with a sharp weapon. It's a shame.