“I’ve seen too many movies,” is a phrase I utter on a regular basis. I usually say this when I’m watching a movie and I’m able to predict the rest of the movie. I can see all the little signs. I can feel what’s coming. I’ve just seen too many movies.
Granted sometimes I’m surprised. I’ve even been surprised by twist some people saw coming. But generally, I’m decently adept in predicting what will happen. In this list I’ve assembled ten movies which had, in my humble opinion, very predictable twists.
In all honesty, if you’ve seen enough movies with ”twists”, it’s hard to be surprised by them. It’s hard to do a good twist. It’s should be really obvious in hindsight yet through cinematic tricks, by distracting you well enough, you missed it.
Suddenly the little girl in a red coat is a psychotic little midget whose about to slash your throat. Suddenly it’s revealed that the magician performed his trick by secretly cloning himself and drowning them in secret. Suddenly it’s revealed that those flashes of the dying child, was actually a prediction of the future and not a painful memory of the past. Suddenly it turns out that this alien planet of apes was actually earth all along.
I could go on and on. All of these twists add something to the film. It’s not just a twist for the sake of a twist. It gives a deeper meaning to the film. Not all of the twists in this film are from lackluster or mediocre films. Some of these I admire greatly. But all of them were perfectly predictable.
Be warned, there be spoilers in this list- though I’m sure that for most of them, you could have seen them coming anyway.
10. The Others
The Others came out shortly after The Sixth Sense, which had one of the most cinema’s most notorious twists. It’s hard not to compare the two ghostly thrillers, as both of them deal with the main characters realizing that they themselves are the apparitions.
The preceding hauntings already made me question the reality of the situation. You can often times feel when a film has a twist. It builds up to something. The supposed answers it gives do not satisfy, it doesn’t give it the desired narrative bang. You can feel the author is hiding something. You can’t help it, your brain is telling you that something doesn’t compute.
As a viewer you hope you’re wrong. It’s not exciting to be right all the time. It might be a good way to win some bets, but cinema can become increasingly dull, when you can guess the ending beforehand.
So when the protagonists of The Others come across the gravestones, you know whose names will be on there. Even so, The Others is an example of a film that, even with its predictable twist, is still a highly engaging experience. I consider it a better film than The Sixth Sense. The film has wonderful performances from Kidman and the child-actors. The scares are less conventional, it’s build upon atmosphere and the existential ramifications of the painful truth revealed.
It stays with you longer. The psychological reasonings for the madness and tragedy that ensued is genuinely heartbreaking. It has far more to offer, intellectually and emotionally, than Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense.
9. Shutter Island
This one is quite notorious for me. In the film’s opening, only a few minutes in, just when Mark Ruffalo’s character was struggling with his gun, I already whispered to my friend: ”Leo is really a patient of the facility.”
”No!” said my friend, ”it can’t be that obvious!”
But it was. As the film continued, I assembled the film’s twist in my head. I remember starting to read the original novel by Denis Lehane, having never finished it- only read the first hundred pages. But I honestly never had an inkling during reading it that the main character was actually a mental patient.
In literary form, I’m sure the twist was devastating. In film, especially after being conditioned with twists for so long, it’s just predictable.
But Shutter Island was directed by my favorite director, Martin Scorsese. And the film has far more to offer than its twist. It’s a psychologically rich, atmospheric gem. There are a few stunning scenes in this film, most notably the moving dream sequence where Teddy watches the memory of his wife turn to ashes- aided by beautiful music from Max Richter. There’s also the great supporting cast which includes Ted Levine, Max von Syow and Ben Kingsley.
The great thing about the ending is that it’s really not about the twist. If it surprises you, it’s just a little icing on the cake. The ending is about the character’s journey. The ending relies upon the existential question asked to us by the end: ”which would be worse- to live as a monster or to die as a good man?”
8. The Village
The twist to this film was victim to director M. Night Shyamalan’s notoriety for ending his film with a twist. So when the trailer was released, people quickly postulated the most obvious one: the film’s early 19th century setting was a charade, the story really took place in the future.
And that turned out to be accurate. Though the revelation is aided by the emotional baggage surrounding it- it was orchestrated by a group of grievers who wish to protect their children from the dark unpredictable circumstances of life-, the film could have been better received if the director wasn’t so predictable.
7. Alien: Covenant
Now I like this film, an opinion that is quite controversial among my fellow cinematic connoisseurs . The film certainly had flaws but I felt it mixed philosophical quarrels with Xenomorph terrors quite well. I was quite satisfied, even though I wish the ending was different.
My quarrel with the ending is not just the predictability. Some say the Alien terror in the end was tacked on and perhaps so, but I was fine with it. Since the film boasts a doppelgänger, one evil and one good, the most obvious thing to do is to switch them around in the end. This is exactly what happens.
According to the great director Ridley Scott himself, the ending wasn’t supposed to be a twist but the fact that it felt that way, is prove of its failure. Personally I would have preferred a happier ending, with Walter surviving (which would have made his climatic fight scene with David so much more satisfying).
But still, it’s it’s hard to dislike a film in my opinion when it features not one, but two Michael Fassbenders.
6. Secret Window
One of the more forgettable Stephen King adaptations and Johnny Depp films. Depp stars as horror-author Mort Rainey- which is an admittedly awesome name- who suffers a writer’s block after he catches his wife (Maria Bello) having an affair with Timothy Hutton. While he’s struggling to pen his next novel, an insidious stranger named Shooter (John Turturro) knocks on his door, accusing him of stealing his ”story”. Soon blood starts flowing and bodies begin to emerge.
The twist is ridiculously predictable: Shooter is really Rainey himself, a symptom of his dissociative disorder. While the film is not a total waste, mostly because of Turturro’s menacing performance, the film lacks genuine suspense or any surprises. It just needed something extra. It’s not twisted enough. While Depp isn’t necessarily bad, he fails giving the character the necessary vulnerability. He’s simply too cool. When the character is confronting his tainted conscience, it should be devastating to him, not just an annoyance.
The film could have also used more gore- but that’s just my personal preference. The main character’s obsession to crafting the perfect ending to this story is supposed to symbolize the film itself. But it isn’t there. The film ends on a lame whimper, instead of an unforgettable bang.