** WARNING: All of the films included in this list are spoiled rotten, so only read on if you don't mind the twist being revealed **
Some of the most memorable movies are those that leave you on the edge of your seat, struggling to work out what lies beneath the surface. When executed well, a late reveal that ties together all the events in a way no one could've predicted is one of the most satisfying conclusions to any story.
Mind Twisting Movies
Below is a list of movies that includes a plot twist you didn't see coming. In their own right, each of these movies are extremely well made. Many have been nominated for Oscars, performed well at the box office, and left audiences questioning what the hell happened years after their release.
So, read on and enjoy reliving some of these unexpected reveals:
1. The Sixth Sense (1999)
Let's start with a twist that firmly cemented M. Night Shyamalan's movie into pop culture. Do I need to explain? Okay, I will, just for your sake.
Bruce Willis stars opposite child star Haley Joel Osment in the psychological horror about Cole Sear, a cute juvenile who can "see dead people." Willis plays the role of a troubled child psychologist, who is tasked with trying to get deep into Cole's psyche.
After a pretty unnerving chain of events — including a scene that put me off reading under a flashlight for the rest of my life — the big, jaw dropping twist reveals Dr. Malcolm Crowe himself is dead.
2. Saw (2004)
Made on a modest budget of $1.2 million, James Wan's directorial debut was deeply unnerving and gory. But beyond the blood, guts and hacked flesh, the film had enough below the surface to make it a horror classic.
Amidst the twisted games orchestrated by John Kramer (Tobin Bell) the best reveal came at the end, when it turns out Jigsaw had been having a nap in the room the whole time. Lazy ass.
3. The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
With Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader placed at polar opposites at each end of the spectrum of good and evil, the second installment of the original Star Wars trilogy blew us all away with one of the most quoted lines in cinematic history.
Not much more needs to be said, other than, "Why, you stuck up, half-witted, scruffy-looking Nerf herder."
Wait. Wrong one. Not much more needs to be said other than, "No. I am your father."
4. The Usual Suspects (1995)
With the use of a non-linear narrative and story told in flashbacks, Bryan Singer's classic manages to keep viewers guessing until the very end — just who was the enigmatic Keyser Söze?
Now seen at as one of the most memorable movies with a twist, eventually it is revealed that Roger "Verbal" Kint (Kevin Spacey), who is under interrogation and provides the narration to the story, is in fact our man. But only after he's hidden in plain view, right under the eye of the cops. Spacey won an Oscar for his performance.
5. Se7en (1995)
Here's the first, but not the last, entry on the list for the talented director David Fincher. Se7en tells the grisly story of a serial killer who creatively butchers his victims in line with the seven deadly sins.
With Kevin Spacey again playing the villain (John Doe), viewers are taken on a breathtaking ride, never quite sure whether detectives Mills (Brad Pitt) and Somerset (Morgan Freeman) are winning or losing in the game of cat and mouse.
The gruesome end scene shows Mills receiving a delivery, which turns out to be his wife's head, used as a tool to try and drive Mills to murder, completing the seven deadly sins. When he tells Mills his wife was also pregnant, Mills shoots him multiple times.
6. The Village (2004)
M. Night Shyamalan is a fan of movies with a twist, earning his second entry on the list with this mind-bending tale about a 19th century Pennsylvania village that isn't as it seems.
Plagued by visits from mysterious monsters that keep inhabitants confined to the local area, one lone ranger, Ivy Elizabeth Walker (Bryce Dallas Howard), escapes. She then uncovers a shocking, earth shattering truth — the Village is actually set in present day, and is completely constructed by the "Elders" as an escape from the outside world.
7. Fight Club (1999)
Fincher is back again with his cult classic Fight Club. What on the face of it appears to be a tale of disillusionment (in the face of our modern-day capitalistic society channeled into consenting violence) turns into something much, much more.
The illustrious and ridiculously chiseled Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) organizes the entire Fight Club cult while under the watchful, bromantic eye of The Narrator (Edward Norton). But, as things unravel, it is revealed that Durden is in fact our protagonist, who is suffering from a split personality.
8. Shutter Island (2010)
Martin Scorsese's thriller arguably provides the best movie twist since the turn of the decade. Leonardo DiCaprio leads as Edward "Teddy" Daniels, a detective who travels across choppy waters to uncover the mysterious escape of a multiple murderer.
As events unravel, we discover that Daniels is in fact Andrew Laeddis, a prisoner who is incarcerated for killing his own wife. The whole detective spiel was set up as an elaborate role play by Laeddis's psychologist to try and remove him from his delusional state of mind.
9. The Others (2001)
The Spanish-American hybrid, which was directed by Alejandro Amenábar, performed well critically and financially, shocking audiences and reviewers alike with its surprising twist.
The tale of an isolated family, led by mother Grace Stewart (Nicole Kidman) and her two children is scary enough in its own right. The nuanced narrative keeps viewers guessing until the end, when Grace discovered the horrifying truth: Her and her children are the ghosts.
10. Memento (2000)
Christopher Nolan loves a complex plot. He set his stall out with his second feature film, telling the story of a troubled man trying to piece together his life, and the murder of his wife, while suffering from a condition leaving him with short-term memory loss.
In one of the finest uses of a non-linear narrative in cinema history, Nolan throws the viewer into the same position as protagonist Leonard (Guy Pearce) by showing fragments of scenes displayed out of chronological order.
By the end of the film, the audience is more disorientated than Leonard himself, meaning the hard-hitting twist (Leonard himself accidentally killed his wife, and he had already found, and murdered the attacker) lands a knockout blow that stays with you long after the credits roll.
11. Donnie Darko (2001)
The cult classic takes more than one viewing to fully understand, and even after multiple viewings there are layers to the narrative that uncover themselves. This isn't surprising, considering Richard Kelly's flick challenges themes such as time travel and multiple universes.
Donnie Darko is a troubled high school teen who sees visions of a mysterious man wearing a pretty terrifying rabbit costume, who goes by the name of Frank. As the story progresses, it becomes clear there are two universes: the Primary Universe (PU) and a Tangent Universe (TU).
In the TU, Frank dies and is able to visit Donnie in the PU, warning him of events that are about to unfold. Donnie's quest is to then end the events in the TU, which he successfully does at the end by sacrificing himself and wiping out the events that take place throughout the movie. Confused? Me too. The director's cut is a good place to look for answers.
12. Psycho (1960)
If you're going to call your movie Psycho, you need to have a protagonist who is completely unhinged and batshit crazy. Step forward Norman Bates, one of cinema's creepiest killers. What makes Norman different is that he doesn't draw the line at stabbing people in the shower; no, he's much worse than that.
Throughout Hitchcock's masterpiece, the voyeuristic motel owner Bates is heard arguing with his mother, and generally expresses some serious abandonment issues. His mother, Norma, is thought to have killed Marion Crane. But it turns out, Norman had killed his mother, exhumed her buried body years later, and taken on her persona. And fashion sense.
13. The Prestige (2006)
While there are a lot of movies with a twist to choose from, the last entry on the list is Christopher Nolan's second. In events mirroring the subject of magic itself, Nolan uses misdirection and illusions to keep the viewer guessing all the way through.
Focusing on two fiercely competitive magicians, Robert Angier (Huge Jackman) and Alfred Borden (Christian Bale), the film makes us question if the magic is real, or if it's all a big act.
After weaving such a mysterious storyline, the payoff has to be good, and it is; the transported man trick is revealed to be two twins, Albert and Frederick, who take on the identity known as "Alfred Borden." But while this is revealed as a plausible outcome, another reveals that Angier uses Nikola Tesla's machine to clone himself each time he performs his stunt.