We all love an unexpected twist, but we don’t love a twist that is so unexpected that it seems completely nonsensical. The key to pulling off a great final-act surprise is to cleverly seed it in the time leading up to the big reveal, and if this is done ever so cleverly then the audience won’t even realise you’ve been feeding them the answers until it’s too late. It’s like a Derren Brown experiment but on every audience ever!
Directors sometimes manage to shoehorn in a number of subtle nods and pointers to upcoming reveals, twists and other plot points. Even in the very first scene of a film you can never let your guard down, for all you know the seemingly irrelevant information or speech may come back later to hit you square in the forehead and say, “hey idiot, do you get it now?”
Gentle reader, of course MOST of us don’t get it the first time round, sometimes it requires several watches of a film to pick up on all its hints. But why find it yourself when I can point it out to you here? Work smarter, not harder.
8. Shaun Of The Dead - The Pub’s Significance
I’m picking on just one specific point here but in one monologue near the beginning of the film, Edgar Wright really just laid out every major plot point of the film under our noses and we were none the wiser.
As Shaun and best friend Ed enjoy a pint at the local, Ed lays out his plans to cheer Shaun up after his girlfriend, Liz, breaks up with him. He proposes, quote, “Do you know what we should do tomorrow? Keep drinking. Bloody Mary first thing, a bite at the King’s Head, a couple at the Little Princess, stagger back here and BANG, back at the bar for shots!”
Much of Shaun’s life revolves around being at the pub it seems, and that’s partially why his girlfriend was so unhappy with him in the first place. In the plans laid out by Ed, things start at the pub and they end at the pub and everything in between is just noise.
Of course by the time the movie has played out and we have ended up back at the pub, the shots at the bar they talk about are far more literal than we first considered. Incidentally everything else he laid out was pretty literal too.