A big twist is often the difference between a good film and a classic one, but if most M. Night Shyamalan movies have taught us one thing, it's that they don't always work. Not all filmmakers seem to realise it, but twists have to be earned.
If the big reveal doesn't make sense within the context of the story or opens up a massive plothole, the audience simply won't buy it, and why should they? Without the necessary groundwork, a twist is no more than a cheap trick.
The element of surprise only works when it's offset against subtle foreshadowing and makes sense within the context of the narrative. For instance, Fight Club's revelation that Tyler Durden was a figment of the unnamed protagonist's imagination hit home because the movie fed the audience nuanced clues throughout. By the time the credits rolled, you wondered why you didn't pick up on it earlier.
When an unforeseen stinger arrives straight out of left field, though, the audience comes away feeling cheated, aggrieved that they weren't given a fair chance to figure things out for themselves, and in these instances, the filmmaker doesn't have the right to claim they hit the viewer with a 'twist'.
9. A Perfect Getaway: The Two Leads Are The Killers
Adventure-thriller A Perfect Getaway cast Steve Zahn and Milla Jovovich as a pair of newlyweds who take a romantic hiking trip to Hawaii, encountering several fellow travellers along the way. Despite its title, nothing about the movie is perfect. Not the couple's Honeymoon, and certainly not the twist it serves up in the final act.
When people start turning up dead, the film becomes a murder-mystery, but writer-director David Twohy wasn't playing fair when he put the story together.
The first third of the film encourages the audience to empathise with the leads, only to out them as the killers later on. Most viewers would have been shocked to learn they had been duped into rooting for two monsters if it wasn't for one problematic scene.
There's a sequence where Zahn and Jovovich's characters discuss how they believe one of the other couples could be responsible for the murders. Why would they think that when they know full well they did the killings? Nobody else hears the conversation; it's dialogue designed solely to cheat the audience.
This sequence would only have worked if the protagonists' insanity prevented them from even realising they were committing the atrocities, but since that's never established, Twohy sits on a throne of lies.