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Thriller Plot Twists That Shocked Me (and I Still Don’t Get) · TMP
Thriller Plot Twists That Shocked Me (and I Still Don’t Get) · TMP
this post is part of Thursday Movie Picks, a weekly feature hosted by Wandering Through the Shelves
[dropcap]A[/dropcap]s it turns out, I’ve seen a lot of twisty thrillers, which is this week’s theme for Thursday Movie Picks! A surprising plot twist can make or break a thriller, and has the power to leave us talking about a movie long after the credits roll. Some twists are so baffling they make you question everything that happened before them, while others are left unexplained so that viewers go onto making up the wildest theories. There’s a bit of all that in this week’s list, with picks that range from the late 50s to the 2010s.

But let’s start with honourable mentions. I will reveal the plot twists so if you haven’t seen any of these movies, please DO NOT read the descriptions. This time I could pick pretty much every Hitchcock movie ever, as he was the king of shocking reveals, but I narrowed it down to two: one is below, and the other is Psycho (1960). In this 60s horror/thriller (! last chance to stop reading !), we find that the shy Norman Bates is a killer, and that his mother is actually him, in a wig.

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Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl - Movie Twists

Second honourable mention has to be Gone Girl (2014), where a husband is a suspect in his wife’s disappearance, only we find out halfway through that she actually faked her own disappearance to screw her husband’s life. Now onto to the Top Five!

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Thriller Plot Twists That Shocked Me
(and I Still Don’t Get)

· thursday movie picks ·
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05. The Machinist (2004)

directed by Brad Anderson
starring Christian Bale, Jennifer Jason leigh and Aitana Sánchez-Gijón

Christian Bale plays an insomniac factory worker that is severely underweight and is or may be suffering from hallucinations, as a consequence of not having slept in a year. After an incident at work he becomes paranoid, and spirals down consumed by his own psychological issues. It’s a dark and grunge-looking film that I haven’t rewatched but, if thirteen year old me is to be trusted, this movie is the sh*t.

The twist: just your average possibly none of it was real ending, triggered by repressed guilt.

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04. American Psycho (2000)

directed by Marry Harron
starring Christian Bale, Justin Theroux and Josh Lucas

Any chance I get I’ll pick this movie, eh? Wall Street yuppie Patrick Bateman is a bit bored and annoyed with a superficial society that doesn’t understand the important message behind Hip To Be Square. And so he goes on a killing spree of prostitutes, homeless people, cops, innocent bystanders, and superficial colleagues – 20-40 people, give or take. Except, did he…?

The twist: again, maybe it was all in his head. Or maybe not.

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03. Shutter Island (2010)

directed by Martin Scorsese
starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Emily Mortimer and Mark Ruffalo

A detective investigates the disappearance of a killer who escaped from an asylum. Set in the 1950s, and in a really scary looking island, Scorsese’s last great thriller is the kind that gets weirder and weirder as the ending approaches. Until of course, the mystery is solved.

The twist: HE’S THE KILLER WHO ESCAPED!! God, it feels good to say that out loud.

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See Also
Five Funny And Iconic Character Meltdowns in Movies

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02. Vertigo (1958)

directed by Alfred Hitchcock
starring James Stewart, Kim Novak and Barbara Bel Geddes

Here it is, my one Hitchcock pick. Of course it had to be his most mind-boggling film, Vertigo. In it we follow a detective who meets Judy, who looks almost exactly like Madeleine – a woman he once knew, and who in turn was the wife of an old friend and could be possessed by a spirit. Our detective fell madly in love with the elusive Madeleine, but sadly couldn’t prevent her death because he suffers from vertigo. So now he thinks Judy is Madeleine, and becomes obsessed. A bit confusing, but it gets better:

The twist: turns out Judy is Madeleine, but the real Madeleine is actually dead. And now Judy is dead, too.

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01. The Shining (1980)

directed by Stanley Kubrick
starring Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall and Danny Lloyd

With previous films I may have not been immediately sure of what actually happened, but I at least came up with one or two ideas of how everything came to be. But with The Shining? I just stared at the screen frozen by utter confusion, much like Nicholson over there. Jack Torrance heads up to an isolated hotel with his family, to take care of it during the low, freezing season, as it is shut down. There’s a history of violence in past keepers of the hotel, that repeats itself as Jack descends into raging madness and tries to kill his family.

The twist: Torrance has been in the hotel before… in 1921?! The “official” theory seems to be one of reincarnation and let me tell you, that only makes the story ten times more creepy.

What are the craziest, most shocking plot twists you’ve ever seen in movies?
View Comments (10)
  • I love all of these movies! (Well, I *liked* Vertigo but straight up loved the rest)

    I didn’t see Shutter Island’s ending coming at all, I knew nothing about that film other than previews before going in. That was great

  • Awesome choices all around! I like the twist in American Psycho the most because it is so ambiguous and it ties in to ‘they are interchangeable!’ Wall Street group so well

  • I remember watching The Machinist when it first came out and I didn’t understand a single thing in it. That one – and it’s twist – flew right over my head lol I loved Shutter Island so much! That twist I really liked and didn’t see it coming at all. Great film. As for The Shining, I *still* don’t understand that ending :/

    • You know I’m not sure I fully understood the twist in The Machinist either when I saw it? Apparently his whole insomnia is triggered by guilt over a car accident where a boy was killed, and he fled the scene. But then… so many questions about what was real and what wasn’t… it’s such a disorienting film.

      One minute I read up on The Shining and think “Oh okay I get it, alright”, but the next I’m so confused again. 😂 The official theory goes something like Jack keeps reincarnating as the hotel caretaker, I think. I have to keep telling myself this like a mantra every time I think about it 😅

  • Yes!! Loved all the picks (except I haven’t seen the Machinest). The American Psycho ending makes me feel uneasy. All these people are awful, but we only get to see one guy who is just evil. I think I should have read the book before I settled down one evening to watch it. Really not what I was expecting at all.

  • This is a perfect group of films for this subject, because all of these twists are so unclear. I love not knowing if Patrick Bateman is a murdering psychopath, or if it’s all in his head. Great choices!

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