There’s something so exciting about a truly well-written twist in a horror film. There’s that moment in Hereditary where a certain accident completely subverts and changes the viewer’s expectation of who the main character really is; or that scene in 2001’s The Others when the protagonist discovers that the family invading her home might not be whom she expected. Or, remember the way your mind short-circuited when Parasite reached its later acts?
A well-written twist isn’t a cheap trick. Rather, it demonstrates confidence and a cunning way to elevate a narrative beyond its initial expectations.
Inspired by that uncanny excitement, we gathered up nine horror movies with twists that are masterful.
This 1987 neo-noir thriller, an adaptation of William Hjortsberg’s book Falling Angel, stars both Mickey Rourke and Robert De Niro. And it really toys with the mind.
Rourke plays a rough but driven PI named Harry Angel, who is hired by Louis Cyphre (played by De Niro) to track down a musician named Johnny Favorite. The movie is gritty and drenched in surrealistic undertones, but what it does so well—something that totally gets under your skin—is how it reveals the deep connection between Harry Angel and Johnny Favorite. You could say the devil’s in the details.
This sci-fi horror classic began its life through the inventive imagination of author Harry Harrison in his 1966 novel, Make Room! Make Room!.
The movie depicts a world suffering from overpopulation, poverty, and the loss of Earth’s natural resources. The plot at this point is widely known known for its ingenious and shocking twist involving the titular soylent green.
You probably already know what the big reveal is, but if you don’t, treat yourself to one of the best classic plot twists committed to film. The caliber of shock and surprise might be best compared to the twist in Planet of the Apes.
Everything, and we mean everything, about this film’s twist revolves around the boy.
Greta Evans travels to the United Kingdom from America to nanny a boy named Brahms. But upon arrival, she discovers that Brahms is a life-sized porcelain doll whose 'parents' act as though it is real.
Greta goes along with things, including all the strict rules her employers give her. But then things start to go wrong. You think you know what’s about to happen; but leave it to us, you’re probably playing right into the film’s red herrings.
Similar to The Boy, Goodnight Mommy uses the curiosity (and unintended cruelty) of young boys just “being boys” to get under your skin.
Elias and Lukas are twins that spend most of their time playing in and around the isolated estate that is their home. Their mother returns home one day after undergoing facial surgery, and her changed appearance unsettles the twins. They see the bandages on her face as a sign that this person might not be their mother.
It doesn’t help that she asks them to keep the blinds closed at all times, and that her days are spent resting and seemingly being a shell of her former self.
Though you might see the twist coming from a mile away, it still manages to startle and completely creep you out. We wish we could say more, but saying anything about this one will spoil its impact.
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This one really messed people up.
Sleepaway Camp is a 1983 slasher film that arrived right as slashers were hitting their stride. It’s summer, and a young girl is sent to summer camp. Not long after camp commences, a brutal series of murders befalls the campsite.
Even when watching this movie in 2021, the first time will really leave a mark.
This cult classic psychological thriller often makes these sorts of lists, and with good reason.
Jacob Singer returns home from duty in Vietnam only to suffer from bizarre dreams and hallucinations that seem to be the result of PTSD. The film’s methodical and deliberate pace makes it seem like something’s wrong, yet the viewer is left, like Singer, in the dark on what exactly is happening.
The big surprise is so essential to the story that after you get there, it essentially folds the film in on itself. It could have easily not worked, but in the case of Jacob’s Ladder, it really does. Oh, and the film was one of the primary influences for the first Silent Hill.
Adapted from the Stephen King novella of the same name, the most surprising part of The Mist wasn’t actually part of the source material.
A small town in Maine is overtaken by a mist that swoops in without any prior notice. Hidden in the mist are deadly alien creatures that feast on the town’s inhabitants. David Drayton and his wife and son end up stuck in a grocery store with other townsfolk. The film is one extended survival experience, up until a pivotal choice is made by the survivors.
We won't tell, but let’s just say… if you were David, you probably wouldn't ever get over it.
After watching this film, you may never eat dumplings again.
This 2004 Hong Kong movie explores themes of immortality, youth, beauty, and celebrity. Mrs. Li is a retired actress battling the inevitability of aging. She seeks out a way to hold onto her beauty and enlists a local chef, Aunt Mei, to help by cooking special dumplings that are effective for rejuvenation.
Suffice to say, they have more than just a placebo effect.
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We’ve all been dragged to a party full of strangers by a partner or friend. It sucks, and you hate having to be the downer at the event, trying too hard or maybe not hard enough to be social and hide the fact that you really couldn’t care less about the party or anyone there.
Will drives into the Hollywood Hills with his partner Kira to attend a dinner party hosted by his ex-wife Eden. It sounds like a disaster waiting to happen, and it is… but the twist here isn’t at all what you expect.
For once, it's worth attending the party to see just how bad things can turn.