Top 10 Twist Endings in Movies (SPOILERS).

I figured I'd start off this blog by putting up an article I wrote a while back.


Alright, after recently seeing a few new twist-laden movies (only 1 of which is on this list, but still...), I got the idea to do this. It's a Top 10 review of my personal favorite twist endings. Keep in mind, this is a very spoiler-heavy article, so if you haven't seen a movie on this list and you care to see the movie at some point in the future, you might want to skip over it or something. I don't know about you, but I hate spoiled twists (*grumbles about Saw 4 and HP6 (which is a book, but I don't care)*). Anyway, here you go:

My Top 10 Twist Endings in Movies

Okay, for me (like with a lot of other people), twist endings can make or break a movie. There are a ton of lists out there that dictate what the best twists of cinema are. I don't care about those lists. This list is a bit different. This list is going to countdown the top 10 movie twists that surprised me and brought a smile to my face (some more than others, which is why it's a countdown to the best). So I am giving fair warning now that the following movies will not be on my list so you can get it out of your system before we begin: The Usual Suspects, The Empire Strikes Back, American Beauty, Identity, and The Others. The reason that the first three are not on my list is because I knew about the twists before I saw the movies, so the ending wasn't a huge shock. The reason the second two are not on my list is because I figured Identity out before I even saw the movie, and I figured The Others out about halfway through. Granted, there is one movie on this list that I figured out, as well, but it is way too good to leave off. So now that your kicking and screaming for my leaving out some good twist movies is over with, I will proceed with my top 10.

10. Fight Club

The Plot: The Narrator (Edward Norton) is a boring office worker. Suffering from insomnia, he begins visiting support groups, for conditions he obviously doesn't have, because he ends up crying like a baby in each one which, in turn, lets him have a good night sleep. Meanwhile, on a business trip, he meets the charismatic Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt), a soap salesman, on a plane. But upon returning home, The Narrator's apartment (and all his things) have gone up in flames, quite literally. When confronted with calling somebody for a place to stay, he randomly decides to call Tyler. Tyler ends up agreeing, but under one condition: The Narrator must punch him as hard as he can. He does, and it all spirals into a huge gathering of men who create Fight Club, an underground fighting club where rule number one is that you do not talk about Fight Club.

The Twist: The Narrator and Tyler Durden turn out to be the same person. Okay, Fight Club is the movie on my list that I figured out before it was revealed… but honestly, who didn't? It doesn't matter either way, because the twist was still cool. Who doesn't love it at the end when Brad Pitt is yelling at Edward Norton that he's firing a gun his imaginary friend and an entire van full of nitroglycerin? The only reason this movie is number 10 on my list is because I was able to figure it out about halfway through, but, again, who didn't? It still rocks.

9. Lucky Number Slevin

The Plot: When Slevin (Josh Hartnett) goes to visit his friend, and finds his friend isn't there, he meets hyper Lindsey (Lucy Liu) instead. But suddenly, in a case of mistaken identity, Slevin finds himself in a battle between the city's two biggest rival mob bosses: The Rabbi (Ben Kingsley) and The Boss (Morgan Freeman). Meanwhile, Slevin is under constant surveillance by relentless Detective Brikowski (Stanley Tucci) as well as the infamous assassin Goodkat (Bruce Willis) and finds himself having to hatch his own ingenious plot to get them before they get him

The Twist: Slevin and Goodkat are on the same side. The Rabbi and The Boss killed Slevin's father over a gambling bet he couldn't pay years earlier. When Goodkat was sent to kill off Slevin, he couldn't do it and instead took the boy in on his own. Oh, and by the way, Lucky Number Slevin was the name of the horse that his dad bet on. This twist was really cool, though it hadn't really floored me by any means. It's like I was expecting it to happen, though I don't believe I actually guessed it.

8. Fallen

The Plot: Narrated by Detective John Hobbes (Denzel Washington), Fallen tells the story of said detective after he witnesses the execution of a deranged serial killer named Edgar Reese (Elias Koteas). After the execution, there seems to be a string of murders that is in the same style as Reese. Along with his partner, Detective Jonesy (John Goodman), Det. Hobbes start to investigate the crimes and Hobbes, who hears the same tune that Reese often sang coming from numerous other people, starts realizing that an evil, murderous force is able to pass onto anybody, just by being touched.

The Twist: At the beginning of the movie, the narrating Denzel tells viewers he is going to tell about the time he almost died. At the end of the movie, you realize that the narration is that of the evil force and not Hobbes. Everybody dies and the evil force (Fallen angel Azaezel, if you want to get specific, hence the title) inhabits a cat. This was a neat little trick, and it brought a smile to my face when I first saw it.

7. Se7en

(Ironic numbering, I know)

The Plot: When Detective Somerset (Morgan Freeman) is about to retire, he partners up with a brand new detective to take his place, Detective Mills (Brad Pitt). Both of them end up on a case in which a serial killer (Kevin Spacey) is killing people based on the seven deadly sins.

The Twist: Out in the middle of nowhere to find Kevin Spacey's final victim, Morgan Freeman gets delivered a box that contains the head of Brad Pitt's wife (Gwyneth Paltrow). This spirals into a big speech from Spacey to reveal that Pitt is actually the last deadly sin, Wrath. I don't believe I saw that coming the first time I saw this movie, but you've got to admit that's a pretty cool twist. As disturbing as this movie is (and it can be pretty disturbing… Gluttony, anyone?), the twist is well worth it… even if it ends on a downer. But hey, the bad guy wins. That's rare in movies.

6. The Game

The Plot: Nicholas Van Orton (Michael Douglass) gets a strange birthday present from his brother Conrad (Sean Penn): a dangerous real-life game that begins to take over his entire life. Nicholas is constantly attacked and nearly killed numerous times all while trying to figure out what the heck is going on.

The Twist: Nicholas is up on a roof, shoots his brother, and jumps off to kill himself… only to land on a huge landing cushion that they use in movies for stunts, and finds out that his brother is still alive and everything that happened had, indeed, just been a huge game. Seriously, you have to give props to a movie that can set up a premise, make you disbelieve that the premise is true, and then have a huge twist at the end that basically says "Ha! We told you from the very beginning this was just a freakin game! You should have just listened." If you aren't confused by the end of the movie as to what the heck is going on, and then you don't get a huge smile on your face when he lands on the big cushion, then something is wrong with you!

5. 11:14

The Plot: A story is told from five different perspectives that revolves around the events that occur at 11:14 PM. 1) Jack (Henry Thomas) is driving down the road talking on a phone. The next thing he knows, a human body lands on his windshield from out of nowhere. 2) A group of misfits (Stark Strands, Colin Hanks, Ben Foster) is driving down the road when they accidentally hit a girl. 3) Duffy (Shawn Hatosy) wants to rob the convenient store that he and his friend Buzzy (Hilary Swank) work at so he can give his girlfriend Cheri (Rachel Leigh Cook) money for an abortion. 4) Frank (Patrick Swayze) is Cheri's dad, and goes out to try and protect her when he stumbles upon the dead body of Aaron (Blake Heron), the guy Cheri went out with that night. 5) Cheri's story.

The Twist: Cheri is pretending to date two guys, Aaron and Duffy, and tells both of them she's pregnant and needs money for an abortion. However, she's really seeing Jack (who she was talking on the phone to at the very beginning of the movie) and is ripping both guys off to leave with Jack and the money. However, during a moment of ecstasy, Aaron is killed on accident. Frank finds the body and disposes it over a bridge, causing it to land on Jack's car. Meanwhile, the group of misfits accidentally do a hit-and-run on Cheri, who was walking across the street after her car stalled. This complicated twist caught me completely off-guard. Seriously, and you see all the events FOUR times before you get Cheri's side of it, which reveals everything. This movie was done masterfully.

4. The Sixth Sense

The Plot: After child psychologist Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis) is attacked by a deranged old patient (Donnie Wahlberg), his marriage begins to fall apart. He then begins meeting with Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment), a young boy who ends up proclaiming the famous line, "I see dead people."

The Twist: Bruce Willis is dead. That about says it all. He died at the beginning of the movie when he was shot by Donnie Wahlberg. There's a bunch of clues pointing to it. This movie did numerous things: It popularized the twist ending in Hollywood thrillers; it shocked audiences everywhere, as almost nobody figured it out beforehand; it ruined the rest of M. Night Shyamalan's career, as he was never able to match the greatness of this twist again.

3. Oldboy

The Plot: Oh Dae-su (Min-sik Choi), a normal Korean businessman, is kidnapped and kept imprisoned in a bedroom for 15 years. Then he's released with a new suit and a cell phone. He meets the young and beautiful sushi chef Mi-do (Hye-jeong Kang) and they quickly fall in love. Oh Dae-su is then told he has 5 days to find out why he had been captured in the first place or Mi-do will be killed.

The Twist: Out of all the twists in this list, this one is probably the most twisted: As a school child, Oh Dae-su had witnessed a classmate, Woo-jin, basically getting it on with his own sister. He then told his friend about it, but then threatened him not to tell anybody. But, of course, his friend began spreading rumors that the sister was quite promiscuous and got pregnant. In shame that she could be mothering the child of her own brother, the sister kills herself. Woo-jin then grows up wanting revenge and sets up an elaborate plan. He has Oh Dae-su kidnapped and kept imprisoned. He then kills Oh Dae-su's wife and has him framed for doing it, then he takes in his daughter to raise as his own. But what he does during this entire time is hypnotize the both of them. Long story short… Mi-do is Oh Dae-su's daughter, and he had sex with her and is in love with her. I was confused as to what was going on at first (I mean, the movie is in Korean, so it took me a minute to figure it out), but I got it shortly after and my jaw was hanging open. The only reason this is number three on the list instead of number two is because I actually pondered if Mi-do was his daughter at the beginning of the movie, so it wasn't the COMPLETE surprise it could have been.

2. The Illusionist

The Plot: Eisenheim (Edward Norton) and Sophie (Jessica Biel) were childhood friends that should never have been. Sophie was upper class while Eisenheim (not his real name, mind you) was lower class. However, Eisenheim grows older and becomes a famous magician/illusionist and comes back into town to win over Sophie back from the abusive Prince Leopold (Rufus Sewell). But after Sophie dies, supposedly by Leopold's hands, Eisenheim begins obsessing with a darker illusion in which he brings dead spirits onto the stage to speak from the grave. But when he starts to bring Sophie back to ask who killed her, Inspector Uhl (Paul Giamatti) is forced to enforce law to have Eisenheim arrested if he ever tries to do this illusion again.

The Twist: Sophie isn't actually dead, and it was all an elaborate plot to get Leopold what's been coming to him and have Sophie and Eisenheim escape together and live happily ever after. When I was first watching this movie, I thought it was just 'okay'. But then, because I wasn't even expecting a twist, the last three minutes blew me away. When Paul Giamatti begins realizing everything was a total setup and that Jessica Biel was still alive and they were leaving together, I was blown away. The twist, in every way, made this movie great for me.

1. Saw

The Plot: Dr. Gordon (Cary Elwes) and Adam (Leigh Whannell) wake up on opposite sides of an incredibly dirty and dilapidated bathroom with their ankles chained to the pipes. There's a dead body lying in a puddle of blood in the middle of the floor between them with a gun in one hand and a tape recorder in the other. They get the tape recorder and listen to their respective tapes. Dr. Gordon and Adam realize that they're playing a game by a man called Jigsaw. Jigsaw likes to put morally corrupted people in incredibly painful situations (that they CAN get out of) to see if they have what it takes to survive and appreciate life. Their game? Dr. Gordon must kill Adam somehow before a certain time (there's a clock on the wall), or his family dies and they're stuck in the bathroom to die. Adam just has to escape somehow. Things get interesting, however, when Adam finds a pair of hacksaws and Dr. Gordon realizes the only way to escape their chains is to saw their foot off.

The Twist: Okay, so the whole movie builds up you believing that the killer is just this hospital orderly named Zepp. I mean, it's completely obvious. Even I thought I had it pegged from the SECOND Zepp showed his face on screen. It was so obvious I thought this was going to be one of those movies where the twist 'breaks' the movie. But then time runs out. Zepp goes to kill the family, but the family escapes, so Zepp goes to the bathroom to finish off the two of them (he also kills Detective Tapp, played by Danny Glover, in the process). Meanwhile, Dr. Gordon saws off his foot and shoots Adam a bit too late. Zepp comes in, Adam grabs him after faking dead, and starts to beat his head in with a bit of the toilet. Dr. Gordon crawls over and stops Adam from beating Zepp's head into nothingness (which it mostly already was at that point). Following this event, Gordon crawls from the bathroom to either get help or bleed to death. Now, Adam is left behind to search for a key in Zepp's pocket but instead finds another tape recorder. This begins the amazing twist: Zepp is not Jigsaw, but was just another player in the game. So who the heck is Jigsaw? Well, that's quickly revealed as a really cool orchestral theme plays along with a bunch of flashbacks to give a bunch of clues revealed previously in the movie, and the dead body in the middle of the bathroom floor STANDS UP. Also, the key to their escape was shown in the very first scene of the movie to have gone down the drain of the bathtub when Adam woke up.

Never before, and never since, has a movie twist had me in that much shock and awe. I was completely and utterly blown away. They almost needed to surgically remove my jaw from the floor. So yes, Saw has my number one spot for best movie twist in my book.

Honorable Mentions:

Saw II – not the recording twist or that Amanda was a bad guy (I called those), but the fact that Daniel was in the safe right next to Detective Matthews the entire time. I never saw that one coming.

Memento – This was just a brilliant movie to begin with, but the twist that showed Leonard having already killed a bunch of people and refusing to believe it (as he has short-term memory loss), so he decides to burn evidence and keep killing people… is just brilliant, too.


  1. I like this list, a couple I haven't seen and will have to check out, though I know the twist now.

    Sixth Sense should be #1 in my opinion, but it's your blog not mine. I disagree that it ruined M. Night's career though, he hasn't had as big a blockbuster since but the expectation of a twist each time from him is the audience's fault as much as anything. He never claimed he was making twist movies forever. Signs and Unbreakable are both better films in my opinion and I hope the best is yet to come from M. Night.

    I like your blog, welcome to LAMB.

  2. I didn't say his other movies weren't good, just that they weren't as well received. It was the audience's fault, overall, but that's why it did ruin his career. That, and faulty advertisement (like The Village).

  3. The Illusionist? eh

    The Saw twist blew me away.

    I agree with all the others...unfortunately most of them i new the twist before seeing. I would say Sleven is the only other complaint. What about The Crying Game...ha.

  4. I'll be honest, I hated the Saw twist. The supposedly "Dead" body getting up, there was something so ridiculous and cheesy about it.

    In my humble opinion, I felt the film would have been immessurably better if they had just left it with the reveal of Zepp not being the killer, and that Jigsaw's identity would remain a mystery.


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