I don’t know about you, but I love it when a movie deceives me. I’m one of those people that, from the beginning of the movie, is trying to figure out if there is a twist in the movie, when it will happen, and what it is. It’s an awful, annoying habit, I know. But when a movie feels like it’s trying to trick you, I’m determined to beat them to the punch. It's a terrible habit, I know. But that's what makes the movies that do this well even more enjoyable! It is the best to be so immersed in a story that you can't see what direction it's taking you in next.
Because I am usually "that person" who tries to figure out the whole movie before it's been told, there aren't a ton of stories that have totally thrown me fore a loop. It's funny though, because the second time you watch the movie all you see are the hints that the director threw in.
Of course, major spoilers ahead. But also, the most recent of these movies came out in 1999. The statute of limitations for revealing movie spoilers must almost be up at this point. You've had plenty of time to either watch it, or have it be ruined for you one way or another. If you're really going to stick to your guns and try to save these movies and for a rainy day, then stop reading right.....now!
Fight Club (1999)
This is one of my all time favorite movies. Top of the charts. Fantastic. And other than being known as one of my favorite movies, it is also known for having one of the biggest twist endings. Based on Chuck Palahniuk's book, David Fincher absolutely nailed the daunting task of a book to movie adaptation. Fight Club bombed in theaters, but here we are nearly 15 years later still talking about it. It later gained a huge cult following and sold very well as a DVD.
Fight Club is also a movie that is totally littered with clues. They're everywhere! Some are easier to spot, while others might take a swift finger on the pause button to catch. For instance, whenever Tyler flashes on screen before the Narrator meets him.
I remember watching this movie the first time and thinking, "What the hell was that?" and wanting to ask my friend to rewind it and pause, but at that point they'd already swiftly distracted us with something else. Fincher also snuck Durden into some other small clips. The guy on the right sure looks familiar.
As for some of the more subtle hints, take the payphone that Tyler calls the Narrator on as an example.
Or when Tyler and the Narrator crash the car. Inside the car Tyler is driving the car, but once the car is in the ditch, Tyler is seen pulling the Narrator out of the driver's seat.
There are even clues in the dialogue between characters. In the scene where the Narrator finds Marla in his kitchen after spending the night with her, their conversation is...strange to say the least. But when watching it over again after learning that the Narrator is Tyler, it makes complete sense. The beauty of these movies is that everything makes sense in almost an instance, and it changes everything you thought you knew about the last hour and a half or so of your life.
The Usual Suspects (1995)
Our harmless narrator of the story, Verbal Kint, has everyone convinced that he's just that. Harmless. But back in 1995, did anyone expect Bryan Singer's crime drama to take the turn that it did? Nope. I don't think anyone saw that end coming. The Usual Suspects definitely has fewer clues to the ending than Fight Club does, but that doesn't mean Singer abstained from them entirely.
First things first, let's look at the names. Rober Kint, played by the incomparable Kevin Spacey (or, if you run with my group of friends, K-Space), is more commonly know as Verbal because he "talks too much." The name of the nefarious Keyzer Söze can be roughly translated in Turkish to "talks to much." If you speak Turkish, you might have been able to pick up on this one. Unfortunately, my Turkish is a little rusty so I had no idea.
In the very first scene of the movie, we see Keyzer Söze with a gold lighter and gold watch.
In the scene where the men are threatening Kobayashi, Verbal is seen wearing a similar watch. Granted, it looks more silver here, but just bear with me.
This is the same watch that Verbal picks up before leaving the police station.
At one point during Verbals interrogation scene you can actually hear him say "I did. I did kill Keaton." But Kujan is screaming over him which allows him enough time to correct his statement to "I did see Keaton get shot."
But this small facial expression is probably the best clue to the ending of The Usual Suspects:
Did you catch that? Verbal, or Keyzer Söze, steps out of character for a second around 22 seconds and smiles when he realizes that Kujan has fallen for his plan, only to quickly change his expression as soon as Kujan steps back into frame. You can call Verbal a lot of things, but stupid isn't one of them.
Once the film forces the audience to stand back and look at the big picture, everything falls into place. And like that, he's gone. Check out the video below for one of the best realization scenes in cinematic history.
The Sixth Sense (1999)
Watching this movie the second time around, it almost seems silly that you missed the twist in the first place. M. Night Shyamalan's hints are not exactly subtle. So much so that I'll probably have to cut a few from this list just to save time. That's what makes this movie so great! All of the answers were handed to the audience throughout the film, but we were focusing on what was going on in with Cole (Haley Joel Osment), that we aren't paying attention to Dr. Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis).
For instance, the only person you ever see Malcolm interact with directly with on screen is Cole. Similarly, he never moves or touches objects around people other than Cole unless they're stationary (e.g. sitting in a chair).
Like how no one noticed that he was wearing variations of the same outfit as the night he died for the entire film. Sometimes he's wearing a sweatshirt or a jacket, but it's all the same beneath his spectral denial.
There's also the red theme that appears whenever there's an interaction between the living and the dead.
Or that when Cole tells him that he can see dead people. He is also helpful in mentioning that oftentimes they don't even realize that they're dead and that they only see what they want to see. Umm hello, Bruce! Take the freakin' hint, man!
Yes, the ending was shocking. Like, rewind-and-watch-again-immediately shocking. I'm pretty sure that friendships and relationships ended over someone spoiling this movie. I was just a kid when it came out, but even I knew that if I talked about the twist ending with someone who hadn't see the movie, well, I could just step outside and pick a switch, because that wouldn't fly in my house (just kidding if you're reading this, Mom).
Were you guys surprised by these endings? I'm sure there are some of you out there like me who tried to figure all of these out before the end. Were you guys successful? Maybe I'll chalk this one up to being really young, but these movies blew my mind the first time around.
But maybe you were more like...