Well, the Golden Globes, SAG Awards and the Oscars have come and gone, but if you think about it, the 2014 movie season has really just started. With this year being packed with an exciting year for sequels of epic proportions to be released like The Hobbit: There and Back Again, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Sin City: A Dame To Kill For, 300: Rise Of An Empire, etc, movie goers will be in for exciting new movies that are slated to come out throughout the year. With titles like Locker 13, Need for Speed, Dark Hours, as well as some highly anticipated movies that people have been waiting for someone, anyone to make into a movie format (The Giver, Maleficent, Veronica Mars, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, etc), this year looks promising, to say the least. Although there are new movies coming out to shock, terrify, keep us hanging on to the edge of our seats and keep us guessing until the end, what about those movies in the past that threw us for an unexpected twist? Or that made our jaws drop? The list would surely be in the hundreds if not thousands, however the following is a list of movies that most may be aware of. There is also the possibility that you have forced your friends to sit on your couch, watch it, and hold your friendship at stake if they don’t like the movie (or come up with a PowerPoint presentation on why they didn’t find the movie as awesome as you did). With this list however, there are also some movies you may not have even heard of , but have faith, they will be worth the time on Netflix or searching AMC to watch them. Be Warned: spoilers ahead!
10 1957- Witness for the Prosecution
Oh it’s an oldie, but a goodie. Witness for the Prosecution is based off of a short story by Agatha Christie. With a cast featuring Tyrone Power, Marlene Dietrich, and Charles Laughton, the courtroom drama is set around Power’s character being accused of murder, and Dietrich’s character (his wife) being his alibi. Although, Power is COMPLETELY GUILTY, Dietrich testifies for him and then discredits her own testimony because “she loves him”. Power, now being protected by double jeopardy, tells Dietrich that he has fallen in love with a younger woman and is leaving her for the younger woman, which is pretty predictable. What isn’t predictable? How about the fact that Dietrich then stabs Power in the courtroom with the knife that was used as evidence in Power’s trial? The movie ending was so shocking for the time, it even has a voice over at the end of the film asking movie patrons to not divulge the ending so that other patrons can enjoy the shock factor. What movie does THAT ANYMORE?!
9 1999- The Sixth Sense
If you were not old enough to see the movie at the time of its’ theatrical release in ‘99, and you STILL haven’t seen it (add it to your To Do List), all you need to know is one line, and one line only:
“I see dead people.”
With Bruce Willis leading the cast that included Haley Joel Osment, Toni Collette and Mischa Barton, M. Night Shyamalan takes what would be an interesting story on its’ own and tweaks it just a bit. The basics is that the story is about a child psychologist, Willis, who takes on the case of Osment’s character in attempts to redeem himself from his previous patient (who shoots Willis, then himself), who also had hallucinations as Osment’s character does. The tweak that Shyamalan puts on the movie though doesn't come until the final scenes of the movie, in which Willis realizes, from watching his wife that he himself, is dead and has been for some time due to the aforementioned gunshot wound from earlier in the film. This film was a huge success, earning six Oscar nominations although, ’99 was also the year that American Beauty came out, so no dice; it’s still an honor to be nominated though… right?
8 2001- The Others
When you think of leading ladies in thrillers, most people tend to think of actresses such as Sigourney Weaver, Jennifer Connelly, and Charlize Theron. But Nicole Kidman’s breakout role was in a thriller movie: 1989’s Dead Calm, so it’s only fitting that after this, people should bring her back to top of mind for thrillers. In this film set in 1945, Kidman’s character struggles to keep sane with being in a remote house while her husband is fighting in France and her two children who have a unique form of photodermatitis (or an allergy to light, and in this case, it is an extreme case). But things in the house seem out of sorts when there are strange occurences including noises, ghosts sightings, and the daughter begins drawing the people she sees in the house that are not the family or servants. It gets to a point where Kidman starts beating up her kid as she sees it as an old woman versus her daughter (one of the people her daughter drew from before). The point? Well, turns out it drove Kidman’s character crazy enough that she actually offed her kids, and then herself. That’s right… Kidman’s the ghost! And the old woman and the others from the drawing were actually the living occupants of the house (and a medium).
7 2004- Secret Window
This one, like Witness for the Prosecution, is based off of a novella, only it’s by Stephen King. Johnny Depp takes the lead as a successful author who has retreated to his homey upstate New York cabin so that he can get away from his cheating wife who wants to end their marriage and needs Depp to sign the papers to finalize everything. However, while trying to work on a new novel (which, like with most writers, is a challenge all on its’ own), he is confronted by John Tuturro’s character, a man who accuses Depp of plagiarism, as if Depp doesn’t have enough problems. After the confrontation are a series of incidents that not only leave you wondering what is going on - ranging from killing a dog, burning a house down and more killing, only now it’s people. The film can make you realize just how incredibly subtle AND creepy John Tuturro can be, given the right part (considering some of his most infamous parts before this were from films like Mr. Deeds and O’ Brother, Where Art Thou?). The shock however comes near the end of the film when Depp discovers, that he made up Tuturro’s character, but now, it’s a part of him. And it’s time for retribution.
6 2002- A La Foile… Pas Du Tout (He Loves Me… He Loves Me Not)
Yes it’s a French film but in terms of shock value, this one has an interesting twist. Audrey Tautou is the lead in this film where her character falls in love with a doctor, played by Samuel Le Biham , who is married to someone else. It plays the film from Tautou’s point of view first, showing how their relationship escalates to the point where she is devastated that he will not leave his wife for her and so she attempts suicide. But then, it pans back to the beginning of the movie, where we now see Le Biham’s perspective… and that’s when you realize Tautou’s character made the whole affair up, as Tautou and Le Biham have only met ONCE. She is actually his stalker. After a confrontation between the two, in which Tautou strikes Le Biham, Tautou ends up in a mental institution for five years. One of the creepiest parts of the film is when they show the life-size mosaic of Li Biham, but made out of garbage. Gross.
5 5. 1960- Psycho
A list of shocking movies with plot twists is not a list without an Alfred Hitchcock film in it. In this case, we’re putting Psycho in although Vertigo can also be considered a top runner. Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles and John Gavin make up the cast of this classic horror movie based off of a novel by Robert Bloch. It tells the story of a young couple in Phoenix who want to get married, but like most couples of today, they have no money to do so. But when Leigh’s character decides to steal 40 G’s from a client and skip town, that’s when things get interesting. Leigh winds up at The Bates Motel, where after having dinner with Perkins' character in which the two have a disagreement over Perkins’ mother, Leigh decides she is going to drive back to Pheonix and give the money back. But not before a good night's sleep at the motel for the night. Sadly for Leigh, that one night was one too many as she ends up getting murdered in the shower by an unknown assailant. Turns out that after another suspicious disappearance of a detective sent to find Leigh, it’s Leigh’s sister and boyfriend to the rescue to find out what happened. The real twist is when Leigh and Perkins talk in the hotel, Perkins spoke as if his mother was alive…, but that'true. Nope; turns out that mother dearest has been dead for quite some time (along with her lover) and Perkins was the one who did it, and has suffered a psychological trauma that caused him to have a split personality with his mother being the other personality.
4 2004- Saw
Whether you are a fan of horror films or not, respect must be given to this movie in terms of what it made movie goers go through emotionally during the film. Cary Elwes, Leigh Whannell, Tobi Bell and a cast of others bring this original screenplay to life, which mainly focuses around Elwes and Leigh’s characters; being kidnapped and chained up in a bathroom with a corpse on the floor, each with a different set of instructions set by a serial killer named “Jigsaw”. One is to escape and the other is told to kill his fellow captive in order to save his own family. The story takes you on a series of events that happen before and up to the moment when both characters are held captive (which includes testimonies from other Jigsaw survivors and views of Jigsaw’s other captives, who are victims in the situation with Elwes and Whannell). What was the most shocking point is in the final scenes, when the corpse on the floor of the bathroom comes to life, only to reveal himself as the one-and-only Jigsaw, finishing the film with two epic words:
3 1996- Primal Fear
In Edward Norton’s screen debut which earned him an Oscar nomination, this thriller film tells the story of an attorney, played by Richard Gere, who represents Norton’s character, an altar boy who is accused of murder. Because the case becomes a major profile one, Gere’s character is more focused on the fame it will bring more than Norton’s innocence, however, through time and meetings, Gere’s character comes to believe that his client is innocent. That is however, until Gere finds a tape with incriminating evidence of his client’s guilt (which when confronted, Norton goes through a psychological breakdown and shows the signs of suffering from split personality disorder). However, being a good defense lawyer and after examination of Norton who has no recollection of the confrontation, Gere doesn't want to be the one to bring it up in trial as it looks bad to try and change the plea during mid-trial. Instead what Gere does is he anonymously sends the tape to the prosecutor (who is Gere’s ex-lover). When Norton hits the stand, and is cross examined by the prosecution, his split personality comes out, which leads to Norton attacking the prosecutor. Lo and behold, there's a bench trail (vs a jury) in which Norton is found not guilty by reason of insanity. The shocker comes in the final scenes when Gere talks to Norton in his cell, and Norton asks how the prosecutor was doing. Norton's apparent disorder would typically have lead him to forget a violent outburst, but the final scenes reveal that he was alert and calculated the whole time, basically high-fiving Gere for a job well done with a "We got 'em!" smirk in his face. What’s also shocking, which is rarely emphasized on, is that Gere’s character represented Norton… pro bono.
2 1995- Seven
The gritty story of two homicide detectives who set out to find a serial killer. Sounds like an ordinary thing for homicide detectives to do, especially if you are a fan of Law & Order. However, with this case, the serial killer plans his murders around the seven deadly sins (gluttony, greed, envy, sloth, wrath, pride, and lust). Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman play the two detectives who through a series of clues and investigation find Kevin Spacey’s character as the serial killer they have been searching for. The twist: Near the climax of the movie, the detectives had only discovered five of the seven deadly sins, however Spacey surrendered himself to the detectives in exchange for the other 2 bodies. Freeman and Pitt agree and are taken to remote location, in which a package arrives. Pitt is left to watch Spacey while Freeman gets the package, and opens it. Turns out, Spacey had planned for Pitt to catch him so he can complete his “body of work”, and in order to do so, he had to kill Pitt’s lover (his real life fiancé at the time, Gwenyth Paltrow), and put her severed head into the package that Freeman intercepted, causing Pitt to become the seventh deadly sin, wrath, and kill Spacey.
1 1992- The Crying Game
Last but not least, this film was more shocking, not necessarily in how it ended but in one of the most shocking scenes of all time. The Crying Game is a film featuring Stephen Rae, Miranda Richardson, Forest Whitaker, Jaye Davidson along with a cast of others with a setting in England. What makes the film naturally tense from the beginning is that it deals with Rae’s character, a member of the IRA. After a kidnapping Whitaker’s character, Rae and Whitaker build a bond between them that is so strong, that when Whitaker escapes, Rae’s character does not have the heart to kill him but that was quickly resolved when Whitaker gets hit and killed by a British armored car. During their time together however, Whitaker’s character makes Rae promise to go to London where Whitaker’s girlfriend works, to tell her he loved her, and to take care of and protect her. So, Rae heads to London to fulfill his promise (and to hide from the IRA), and meets Davidson’s character with whom he eventually falls in love with. Twist: When Davidson and Rae go to make love for the first time in Davidson’s apartment, Rae got more than he bargained for when he finds out that Davidson is a transgender woman.
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