9 Seriously Smart Movies That Trick You By Having Two Twists

This is the twist... or is it?

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Gramercy Pictures/PolyGram Filmed Entertainment

A good twist needs two things to work. Obviously whatever shocker's being played needs to be something genuinely surprising, but just as important is that the notion of a twist at all be unexpected. A surprise is all the more surprising if you don't know it's coming, after all. How many times have you seen a movie (or episode of a hit fantasy show) knowing there's a twist and thus had the full impact of it ruined?

To counter this, smart twist-makers will throw in a misdirect - a second twist that distracts your attention ahead of the real biggie. Sometimes the smaller one is a straight up fake-out, other times it's a small part of the larger picture, but played right it can insure surprises against blabbermouths (you can also make a movie that's good outside of a single rug-pull, but that's something for another time).

Other times, a movie will throw in two twists just because more is always better (hey, that's been Doughy's Pizza's business model for nigh-on twenty years, so who am I to argue). Whatever the reasoning, movies with two twists are curious beasts, so let's look at bit deeper and take in nine of my favourites.

Spoilers for all movies included.

9. Leonardo DiCaprio's Insane (Or Is He?) - Shutter Island

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Paramount Pictures/Warner Bros. Pictures

The Movie: After finally bagging his Oscar with The Departed, Martin Scorsese chose to do something a little different, adapting Dennis Lehane's period mystery novel about a detective investigating a mysterious island asylum in the 1950s. The result is both a throwback B-movie and tight psychological thriller that probes the spectre of guilt and the trials of war.

The First Twist: There's a lot of uncertainty about the true nature of the asylum and the investigation, and at the end we learn Leonardo DiCaprio's Teddy was right to be suspicious. When he arrives at the lighthouse, the key to everything going on at Ashecliffe Hospital, he's told by Ben Kingsley's Dr Cawley that he is in fact an inmate, with everything we've seen so far a role-play in an attempt to shake his belief he's actually a cop investigating the island and address his dark past. Sadly it doesn't seem to work, leaving the doctors with little choice of what to do with Teddy.

The Second Twist: The final scene puts everything we've just been told into doubt; Teddy says to his doctor "Which would be worse: To live as a monster, or to die as a good man?" before walking off to be lobotomised. A shock even for those who've read the book (the line was written for the movie), despite appearing to have regressed back into his delusion, the trick did work and Teddy's fully aware of what he's done, but feeling guilty for his past crimes is overwhelmed by a desire to atone for his sins.


Film Editor (2014-2016). Loves The Usual Suspects. Hates Transformers 2. Everything else lies somewhere in the middle. Once met the Chuckle Brothers.