What makes a movie truly memorable? Some would say the acting, others would cite the special effects, but one of the things that truly makes a movie live long in the memory is a well-written plot with surprising twists and turns that really keep us guessing.
Major Spoilers ahead: The best films manage to surprise and shock us with their unpredictable stories, and the following 5 classics had some of the best twists in cinematic history. Did you see any of these twists coming the first time you saw them?
Orphan – There’s Something Wrong with Esther
A classic 2009 horror movie directed by Jaume Collet-Serra and starring Isabelle Fuhrman in the role of the eponymous orphan, this film follows a young couple who adopt a sweet-looking orphan girl after the death of their own unborn child.
At first, everything seems fine, but when the girl starts demonstrating violent behavior, it quickly becomes clear, something is wrong. Shockingly, towards the end of the film, we learn that this seemingly 9-year-old child is actually a 33-year-old woman with a growth disorder and murderous intent.
The Usual Suspects – Five Criminals. One Line Up. No Coincidence.
A 1995 classic directed by Bryan Singer and featuring an ensemble cast including Stephen Baldwin, Benicio del Toro, Pete Postlethwaite, and Kevin Spacey, The Usual Suspects charts the illegal antics of a group of criminals, with most of the film taking place in flashback form.
The film introduces us to five criminals and a mysterious unknown mastermind known as Keyser Söze. Kevin Spacey’s character, Verbal, narrates the film and seems to be a small-time crook at first, but it’s eventually revealed that he was Keyser Söze all along in one of the most shocking cinematic reveals of all time.
The Prestige – Are You Watching Closely?
Some films leave little hints and clues along the way to help attentive viewers spot the twist before it happens, and The Prestige was a great example of this. The film, directed by Christopher Nolan, centers around two warring magicians, played by Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman.
Both of these characters are always trying to outdo each other, and both manage to pull off a feat of teleportation that seems physically impossible. It’s eventually revealed that Bale’s character, Borden, had a secret twin all along, while Jackman’s magician, Angier, had been cloning himself.
Shutter Island – Some Places Never Let You Go
Released in 2010 and directed by Martin Scorsese, Shutter Island is a dark and twisted psychological thriller that follows the trail of Edward “Teddy” Daniels, superbly brought to life by Leonard DiCaprio, as he investigates strange goings-on at a psychiatric facility on Shutter Island.
For most of the film, we’re led to believe that Teddy is a US Marshal, but it actually turns out at the end that he was a patient of the asylum the entire time. Teddy’s real name is Andrew Laeddis, a man who murdered his own wife after she killed their children.
Murder on the Orient Express – Everyone Is a Suspect
One of the most widely adored, read, and celebrated authors ever to exist, Agatha Christie was well-known for her remarkable talent to whip up gripping stories with fiendishly clever twists and turns, and Murder on the Orient Express is generally regarded as her greatest work.
The story was brought to life in 2017 by Kenneth Branagh, who both directed and starred in the picture. For the entire duration of the film, viewers are trying to guess who committed the murder, but Christie then stuns us all with the ultimate twist: everyone did it! It turns out that almost every passenger on the train contributed to the death of Edward Ratchett.