WARNING: This probably goes without saying, but just to be clear, they following blog contains spoilers for various films. Read at your own risk.
I actually struggled for a name to call this blog. I was originally going to call it “Top Five Plot Twists That Don’t Entirely Work”, but that seemed too long winded. Anyhoo...
The plot twist is potentially one of the greatest strengths of any story. I mean who can forget the classic ending to The Usual Suspects when Keyser Soze was revealed, or the heartbreaking realisation behind the named “Rosebud” in Citizen Kane? If a twist is done correctly, it can have a huge impact on the story, change the narrative in a way that you never expected and make you go “oh my god!”
However, if a twist is done BADLY then it can have the opposite effect. It could have little to no impact, ruin the credibility of a story or – in some cases – create plot holes.
Today on my blog I look at what I consider to be some plot twists that I felt ruined a movie to some extent. These twists are necessary the worst plot twists ever – but these are five twists that bothered me and, in my opinion, didn’t have impact that the writers intended. Some of these twists have been mentioned before online (number 2 especially is a common one that many have panned), but I’m still mentioning it.
Now just to make it clear, just because I mention these films does not necessarily mean I think the FILM is bad (although there are some bad ones in this list), it just means that I don’t think the plot twist is as good as it could have been in my opinion. And, as always, these are mentioned in no particular order. So, without further ado, I present to you the Top Five Lame Plot Twists.
1. Planet of the Apes (2001) – The “ending”
The original Planet of the Apes had an ending that shocked everyone to the core. Learning that the main character was not on an alternative world, but rather a futuristic version of Earth – where the apes ruled the humans after a nuclear war – was an extremely horrific ending for many. It was shocking not just because people didn’t see it coming, but in that it was also acting as a commentary of the fears people had during the Cold War, and a possible outcome should humanity get wiped out in a nuclear war. The original ending had a major impact and it’s widely regarded as one of the best twists ever.
The Tim Burton remake, however, is widely considered one of the most confusing and pointless endings ever. Now, I love Tim Burton, he’s one of the few directors that (in my opinion) rarely does a bad film. This one, however – is a stinker.
So, how to sum up. Guy gets teleported to a world run by apes, he fights a bad guy called General Thade, Thade gets locked away, guy finds his way back to Earth and he lives happily ever after... or DOES HE?
Upon arriving, he walks towards the Lincoln memorial only to find – gasp – that it’s now in ape form. In fact, it’s now a monument to General Thade! At that point, the police arrive – all apes – and we realise that apes now rule the humans in this world. And... movie ends.
Ok, what the hell did I just watch? This ending makes no sense whatsoever! Did the guy arrive in an alternative history of Earth? Is this the same Earth, but something he did in the film affect it? Did General Thade escape and travel to Earth? If so how could he have done that? None of this is ever explained, even Tim Burton has never explained this ending as it was intended to be a cliff-hanger for a sequel – which was never made!
This ending was apparently supposed to outdo the ending to the original Planet of the Apes film, but it just ends up as more of a head-scratcher than a shock. Even if they did intend this as a cliff-hanger, it should have had SOME continuity with the rest of the film. As it stands, it just seems to be put in for shock value and, in turn, comes across as confusing and adds nothing to the film, which was pretty mediocre as it was anyway. I love Tim Burton, but this film (and this twist) wasn’t one of his best moments.
Damn this twist! Damn it to hell! (sorry couldn’t resist! XD)
2. Signs – Water is alien’s Kryptonite
Believe it or not, I actually missed this the first time I saw it! It wasn’t until a friend of mine mentioned it to me that I saw it again and thought “yeah... that is pretty stupid!”
Ok, everyone has commented on this “twist” ending and how stupid it is, but I have to give it a mention on my blog just because.
For the most part, Signs is actually a pretty decent horror movie, leaving much of it to the audiences’ imagination until the last act. Then the aliens appear and, if I’m being honest, they do look pretty scary. That is until they discover their weakness. Water.
Yes, that’s right. Water. Water is deadly to them.
I know this has been brought up before, but I’m just gonna say it again just because I can. Why would the aliens invade Earth – a planet that is MOSTLY WATER by the way – when water is their weakness? Would that be as silly as vampire’s invading a village made out of garlic? Even if they did invade Earth, all it would take to stop them would be for it to rain and they were pretty much buggered (especially if they invaded England). Did the aliens not do any recon beforehand? I dunno, maybe these aliens were the recon. But even so, they could EASILY see from space that Earth is mostly water. What made them want to invade this planet in the first place?
I dunno, maybe the aliens had a plan, but it was a stupid one! As such, this twist makes the threat of the aliens that little less – well, threatening. It ruins an otherwise decent horror movie. Between this and the ending of War of the Worlds, I dunno which is sillier. Well, if anything, at least this movie taught me to keep a few bottles of water spare in the event of an alien invasion.
3. Frozen – Hans’s heel turn
I just can’t seem to leave this film alone, can I? In fact, if you remember, when I did my review of Frozen, I actually did say that Hans revealing himself to be a villain was actually a good twist. Well – I kinda want to take that back. Because, the more I think about it, the more this twist doesn’t work in the way that it should.
I’m sure by now EVERYONE has seen Frozen and knows the story, so I won’t waste too much time explaining. Just for the benefit of those who don’t, in the film, Hans is introduced as the “Handsome Prince” that is popular in a lot of early Disney films. Anna immediately falls in love with him – and then later it’s discovered that Hans plan was to kill Elsa all along so that he could take her place as ruler of the land, with Anna as his consort.
Here are the reasons why I don’t think this twist works. For one thing, at NO point in the film does Hans EVER show any signs of being wicked. He’s kind, caring for Anna and even deliberately tells the Earl of Weaselton’s men that Elsa is NOT to be harmed. In fact, when he goes after Elsa, he tells her “don’t become the monster they think you are”, showing that he does care for her. He even speaks to her in a cell very kindly and tries to understand her. So when this twist is revealing, it completely contradicts what Hans is like earlier in the film.
Also, if his plan was to kill Elsa all along – WHY did he bring her back to palace? That was just pointless even for a villain plan. I guess you could argue that Hans had to convince the other nobles that Elsa was a monster and had to be destroyed – but seeing as they already thought she was a monster (and the Earl of Weasleton even hired two guys to kill her), then he could have just killed her and no one would have been any the wiser.
I know some of you may think “but surely if he didn’t show any villainous tendencies beforehand it makes this twist that more impactful, right?” Well, for me I say no. You can’t just have a character act one way and then have him act another without any rhyme or reason. Yes, I know Hans felt insecure about his brothers and wanted to do better than them – but to me, this twist just felt like the writers got so far and thought “oh s***! We forgot to add a villain! (though they kinda did in the Earl of Weaselton) I know! Let’s pick Hans!”
Ok, that’s not what Disney thought at all. In fact I can understand why they would pick Hans as the villain – they wanted to move away from the conventional Disney tropes in previous films. So having Hans as the bad guy wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing, but the way it’s done doesn’t entirely work in my eyes. I would accept this twist a lot more if they had hinted towards Hans being a baddy (I.E. being overly possessive about Anna, little evil grins or even treating Elsa with contempt), because there are ways to foreshadow a characters actions without outright revealing them.
As it stands, this twist feels more like an asspull than a shocker. In fact, I’m just gonna say it – Hans got screwed over!
4. American Psycho – It was all in his head
The breakout role for Christian Bale (and a role for Jared Leto of Thirty Seconds to Mars fame) sees him as a slick businessman named Patrick Bateman that appreciates the finer things in live. Expensive suits, lavish restaurants, diets and exercise and high class living. He lives a life that many would dream off and seems to have it perfectly. Oh, and I did mention he’s also a part time serial killer?
Juxtaposed with his modern day living, and his struggle with the banal mediocrity of his material life (and the company he keeps) with his violent side. Throughout American Psycho, Bateman narrates to the audience his inner, nihilistic thoughts, his lust for murder – and even one point he narrates at how jealous he is just because a co-worker has a better business card than him. It all makes for an interesting, yet disturbing character – acting as a parable for how someone can have everything, but still not be enough. I also like to think this film serves as a commentary for how modern life can sometimes drag people down and drive them insane. At least that’s what I think.
Bateman murders various people whilst keeping his personal life separate as much as possible. But all too soon, both lives converge as he murders strangers and co-workers alike. At the end, it becomes too much for him and he leaves a message revealing all the crimes he has committed. Here’s the catch – they never happened. Everything that happened in the film was in his head.
Now, maybe I’m alone in this, but I find this ending a cop out. Especially given the bloody scenes before this reveal, it doesn’t feel as satisfying to learn that none of it happened. Let’s face it, when has the whole “It was all a dream” ending really been a satisfying conclusion. It may have worked in It’s a Wonderful Life and Wizard of Oz, but in this film it just doesn’t work for me.
Some might argue that this is, in its own way, a reasonable ending for Bateman. Because part of him WANTS to be punished for the crimes he has committed and the fact that he continues to escape them (inside his mind) means he is stuck in his own personally hell. But I think I think a MUCH better ending would be that all these things did happen, but Bateman got away with it somehow. I dunno, I guess I was expecting something a little more with this.
American Psycho is a fantastic film, but the ending for me spoils it a little. I dunno, maybe I’m alone in this, but I think the way this film ended could have been a lot better.
5. The Number 23 – The reveal
This film got panned critically, but actually I don’t think it’s as bad as everyone makes it out to be. It’s an enjoyable thriller with a lot of tension and mystique and Jim Carey does actually give a good performance. But the pay off is really weak.
In The Number 23, Jim Carey plays Ned, an animal control officer. His wife gives him a book for a present called “The Number 23”, written by Topsy Kretts (Top Secrets – gettit?). The book is about a detective that murders his lover – but as he reads it he suddenly notices similarities between him and the character in the book. It’s then he starts noticing connections and links with the number 23 (which is considered an unlucky number in some cultures).
As he becomes more and more obsessed with the book and the number 23, he goes on a mission to discover the truth. He discovers that one chapter is missing (Chapter 23, of course) and he eventually finds a hotel room (yes you guessed it, room 23) where he finds the missing chapter written on the wall and hidden behind the wall paper (um... ok...). What it boils down to is that HE was the one that wrote the book, it was his confession. He murdered someone, tried to commit suicide by jumping out the window of this hotel room, got amnesia, then forgot all about it.
Yeah... not the best endings I must say. Not only that, it brings up a few plot holes. For instance, his wife (who knew all about his condition) was the one that brought him the book. Why would she do that when she was trying to keep him from finding out the secret? Also, if wanted to confess to the crimes, why not just go to the police instead of going through such a convoluted way of writing this book and put the last chapter on the walls of the hotel? Not only that, but the movie seems to hint that the number 23 would have a major impact on the story – but ultimately it just turns out to be one huge macguffin. They could have easily used ANY number and it would have been the same effect.
Like I said, this isn’t a bad film really – but the ending is really disappointing and could have been a lot better in my opinion.
Agree? Disagree? What plot twists left you unsatisfied? Please let me know in the comments below.
Thanks for reading!
All images above are copyright of their respective owners