Legendary directors in the vein of Alfred Hitchcock, M. Night Shyamalan and Christopher Nolan have built an indelible legacy for themselves on the back of mastering the art of the twist. However, as with all great cinematic flourishes, there is a fine line to be tread - one convoluted, unnecessary instance can irredeemably tarnish the entire film, let alone an unrelenting series of them.
Indeed, it speaks volumes to the stunning quality of the cinematic bombshells produced by the aforementioned directorial greats, that even on second viewing - and with full knowledge of the twist - the film remains an awe-inspiring spectacle. Indeed, many fans frequently laud the experience of revisiting various movies with the knowledge of the shocking revelation to come as even better than their initial impression.
Science fiction, murky thrillers, gritty action flicks; practically every genre imaginable has utilized this magnificent narrative technique to great effect and horror is no exception. However, while other genres often use it to pull a proverbial rabbit out of the hat and save the day to varying extents, horror typically delights in hurling ferocious curveballs designed to sever the last threads of hope and optimism that viewers have been desperately clinging on to.
Are you watching closely? Things are about to get extremely dark. But in a critically acclaimed sort of way.
10. Sleepy Hollow
While often lost in the endless landslide of Tim Burton horror outings, 1999's Sleepy Hollow remains one of the celebrated director's finest, albeit cheesiest, offerings to date.
Endlessly silly and helmed by a charmingly bumbling performance from Johnny Depp, Sleepy Hollow is a riotous watch. Adapted from Washington Irving's classic short story, the film centers around a malevolent spectral entity terrorizing a town by decapitating members of the populace - the appropriately named Headless Horseman. What appears to be a straight-forward horror fantasy spirals into a spider's web of deceit as Depp's Ichabod Crane investigates the murders further.
Revelations of true identities and unexpected character deaths are an integral aspect of the 106 minute run-time as things are revealed to be far from what they initially seemed. Several culprits - including Crane's love interest Katrina - are mooted as potential suspects for the Horseman's shadowy master, serving only to increase the shock factor when the majority are brutally dispatched.
Burton delivers Sleepy Hollow's final twist with effortless panache when Miranda Richardson's Lady Van Tassel re-emerges, having faked her death. Not only is she the true villainous mastermind behind proceedings, her backstory unveils that she is utterly driven by revenge against the film's two centric families for evicting her family during her childhood.
Fortunately Crane manages to break "Van Tassell's" hold over the Horseman and she is duly carried screaming off to hell. Everybody loves a happy ending.