Top 10 Movie Twists

Movie plot twists can accomplish many things from shocking the viewer, to advancing the plot, or ruining the film entirely (thank you M. Night Shyamalan). An effective twist, one that is unforeseen and doesn’t cheapen the experience, can lift a movie from mediocrity and keep the audience guessing.

Here are some of the best movie twists:

Obviously contains  SPOILERS

*UPDATE* For more, check out:   10 More Great Movie Twists


10. American Psycho (2000) –  Not a Gary Busy bio-pic

Was it real?

– The audience is left to question where the murders occurred; in reality or Patrick Bateman’s head. It’s a daring, enigmatic type of ending that usually fails when attempted. Regardless of which end theory is believed, neither takes anything away from the buildup, which is excellent.

9. Scream (1996) –  Hitchcock homage (ripoff?)

2 killers, Billy Loomis and Stu Macher. Killing-off star Drew Barrymore early.

– Wes Craven did the seemingly impossible by making an original, unpredictable film out of a tired genre and conventional story. It’s unique traits include smarter(ish), self-aware characters, killing off the star actress early (Psycho), and having multiple killers (OK, Psycho had mult-personalities not killers). No one honestly expected Drew Barrymore to be killed so swiftly.

8. Se7en (1995) –  Morbid “Cracker Jack” prize

Kevin Spacey is the serial killer. Murders Mills’ wife Tracy, sends her head in a box, then gets shot dead by Mills. Had it all planned.

– A gruesome ending to an uncompromising film. Even after all the horrific deaths seen in the buildup, the delivery of Gwyneth Paltrow’s disembodied head is still a shocker (even though it’s not explicitly revealed onscreen).

*More shocking is the fact Morgan Freeman failed to talk Brad Pitt out of killing him. I’m pretty sure that broke some unwritten Hollywood rule or law of physics.*

7. The Orphanage [El Orfanato] (2007) –  Trapped in the closet

Laura is responsible for the death of her son Simon. Accidently trapped him in the hidden basement while searching for him.

– Sometimes a twist doesn’t need to be shocking in order to be effective. In this well-told ghost story, a simple innocuous action (accidently blocking a door) leads to the death of a child. The result is an adult dealing with the grief and guilt of being responsible.

6. Matchstick Men (2003) –  A con man conned by a con?

Frank and Angela con Roy out of everything. Angela is not really his daughter.

– Con movies have a long history of employing contrived, stupid twists to appear clever and cunning (see Ocean’s 12, better yet don’t). Not so here, where the con takes second stage to characters relationships and development.

5. The Crying Game  (1992) –  Wait, what’s that between her. . oh. . . Ohhhh

Dil has a penis.

– She’s a fucking dude!

4. Soylent Green (1973) –  Breakfast of champions

“You’ve gotta tell them! Soylent Green is people!”

– What a dreadful end to an already grim movie. One of the most famous twists, more people know of the ending than those who have actually seen the film (by far).

3. Memento (2000) –  Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice . . . What was I talking about?

Leonard intentionally wrote notes to “trick” himself into going after and killing Teddy.

– Ultra complex movie; fitting the end(or beginning) twist doesn’t really answer any important questions. It only acts as a catalyst to set the movies events into motion. Rather brave decision by director Christopher Nolan, not attempting to fill in the blanks or explain what really occurred prior to the films events.

2. Psycho (1960) – Hitchcock’s middle finger to convention and audience expectations

Killing the main character and star early. Killer is Norman Bates, his mother is actually dead.

– I can only imaging the effect this movie had on an unsuspecting 1960’s audience. Amazingly, still has the ability to shock 50 years later.

1. Planet of the Apes (1968) – Could it have been anything else?

Taylor discovers the mostly buried Statue of Liberty, realizing he’s actually on Earth.

– The most famous twist along with one of the most iconic scenes ever filmed.


About sebastianhaff
I'm Steve. 24 year old recent college grad. My love of films (and sheer boredom) lead me to begin this blog. My taste in movies is eclectic, although I tend to lean toward foreign and non-mainstream cinema. Feel free to contact me at:

6 Responses to Top 10 Movie Twists

  1. Corey says:

    Memento’s ending is probably my all-time favorite. He spends the entire film searching for his wife’s killer when it was him all along. Brilliant.

  2. Pingback: Top 10 Movies: 2000 « It's a Trick. Get an Axe.

  3. Pingback: Top 10 Movies: 2003 « It's a Trick. Get an Axe.

  4. nero says: best twists list-watch this-the list u can’t refuse

  5. Pingback: 10 More Great Movie Twists « It's a Trick. Get an Axe.

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