5. The Usual Suspects (1995)
Five men are arrested and brought together for questioning after a truck is hijacked. None of them is found guilty, but even so they decide to plan a revenge operation against the police. They agree on a robbery, which is successful, and afterwards they make a trade-off with a man who offers them a bigger job. Behind it all is Keyser Soze, a mythical criminal mastermind.
The group agrees to work for him, but each of them grows in debt and now must pay him back in one last suicidal job. Verbal Kint, a quiet man with cerebral palsy, is one of two survivors among 27 deaths. Kint is telling the story to an agent, who figures out that Keyser Soze is actually one of the five criminals.
Kint is let go, but Kujan soon realizes that the story he told was made up. Evil is revealed in the form of Verbal Kint as agent Kujan receives a fax from the artists impression of what Soze looks like thanks to the other survivor, and it’s no other than a drawing of Verbal.
4. Spoorloos – The Vanishing (1988)
When it comes to unfair endings and utterly revolting unpunished acts, this film comes with a high mark. The story follows couple Rex and Saskia on a romantic getaway in Paris. They stop at a service station, where Saskia goes in and disappears without a trace.
Rex spends three whole years searching for her, until he starts getting letters from her abductor. The man, Raymond, meets with Rex and confesses what he did, further saying that he will explain everything if only he joins him for a drive. He then explains how he’s a sociopath, and that he has once recued a little girl from drowning, which has led him to become obsessed with whether he could commit a great act of evil after such a good deed.
He later takes Rex to the station where he abducted Saskia and sedates him. Rex wakes up in a coffin, six feet under, where no one can hear him. The film ends with a finally relaxed Raymond, reading the news of Rex’s disappearance and how it coincides with Saskia’s.
3. Brazil (1985)
This bizarre sci-fi film is found in an alternate version of the past, present and future, where society is controlled by an imposing and harsh organization, and citizens are completely paranoid and scared of it.
The hero is Sam Lowry (Jonathan Pryce), a desperate man who works at a computer terminal. Sam gets involved in a mess that includes the girl of his dreams, the chief executive of the state and a group of protesters. Terry Gilliam, who directed and co-wrote the film, does a terrific job at making a very complicated story to follow.
As a public enemy, Sam is taken to be tortured, but is then rescued by members of the resistance against the government. They leave and Sam gets to settle with his love interest in the countryside. Which would be fine, but this film is on this list because the end reveals that all this happens inside Sam’s head, and he is actually in the torture room.
2. No Country For Old Men (2007)
Based on the novel with the same name by Cormac McCarthy, Joel and Ethan Coen have made a masterpiece when it comes to stories of evil winning over good. In this case, evil is Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem), a tall, dark haired man with an offputting smile, travelling through Texas with a tank of compressed air and killing people with a stungun which propels a cylinder into their heads.
There are two other major characters: sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) and Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin), a poor man who comes across some vehicles in the desert with bodies all around them, neatly stacked bags of drugs and a briefcase filled with money. The plot thickens as Chigurh tries to take the money from Moss and Sheriff Bell tries to stop Chigurh’s murder trail.
Anton seeks the money and kills remorselessly whenever he feels it’s necessary in order to advance his quest, and even when it’s not necessary at all. Moss gets killed by Mexican drug traffickers who find him first, Bell retires, Chigurh gets the money and goes away, free and in possession of what he has sought throughout the film. The goodness presented is defeated, while evil is the most competent and successful.
1. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)
This German cult classic by Robert Wiene tells the story of Dr. Caligari and his sleepwalking and faithful companion Cesare, and their connection to a murder trail in a German village in the mountains called.
The film is one of the earliest examples of “frame story” in a motion picture, where the body of the plot is presented as a flashback told by the narrator, which in this case is called Francis. Him and his friend Alan visit a carnival in the same village, and spot Dr. Caligari and Cesare, who’s being displayed by the doctor as an attraction. He’s certain that Cesare can answer any question he’s asked.
Alan asks how long he has to live, to which he replies that he will die the following day at dawn – and it comes true. Along with his girlfriend Jane, Francis investigates the duo, and this leads to Jane’s kidnapping by Cesare, who is stunned by her beauty. Later, Francis finds that Caligari is the head of the local mental asylum and is obsessed with the story of previous Dr.Caligari, who used somnambulism to murder people.
The townsfolk pursue Cesare, and he falls to his death as they find that Caligari has created a dummy of Cesare only to distract Francis. Caligari, being confronted with a dead Cesare, reveals his mania and is imprisoned in the asylum. Yet, immoral gets away from punishment as Francis’ flashback is actually a fantasy he created: Caligari is his doctor in the asylum and, upon the viewer’s realization of the character’s delusion, claims to be able to cure him.
Author Bio: Alex Gandra is a Portuguese writer and filmmaker.She graduated this year in New Communication Technologies from the University of Aveiro and is currently in a master’s degree in Digital Audiovisual. She spends too much time in cafés writing scripts and other kinds of texts you can find at medium.com/@gandra_le. She’s also writing a book she hopes to finish some day.