Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Common Horror Movie Twists And How To Spot Them

So before I can get into this spoilerific post, I've got some house-keeping to do. I tried to finish watching Blessed. I really really tried. But it got worse and worse and eventually I couldn't take H-Gra and Egg-Free so they're better left to what happens to them in my imagination.

I also saw The Rite last weekend and I've been trying to figure out what to make of it since. It's just... really boring. I can take schlock and exploitation but what I cannot abide is boredom. And the Rite is duuuuuuuuuuuuuullll. There's a few okay jump-scares but those always get me. The final possession scene where it's Anthony Hopkins that's afflicted seems like a dinner party where Hopkins' has had a few too many and is just doing impressions of people he's worked with in the theatre.

So now, on to our feature presentation! I started watching yet another movie on Netflix (which is really starting to let me down) and figured out the twist in the first 10 minutes. Now, I'm not particularly smart but I do watch an awful lot of movies. The good, bad and ugly, I'll watch'em all! (is anyone else totes excited for The Roomate's release? I AM) There are, however, few endings that make me go, "oh SNAP." So faster than you can say Kaiser Soze let's break down the most common twists.

1. The protagonist did it
2. Several of the characters are part of a multiple personality/ Main character suffers from multiple personalities
3. It was all a dream/premonition
4. Protagonist attempts to solve a murder or find someone proving only that they are looking for themselves
5. They've been dead the whole time

I'm sure you can think of at least a few examples of each one, easily. The problem with twist endings is we're expecting them. The Crying Game was a tiny movie that made a bajillion dollars because of a simple use of marketing - don't give away the ending.

Now, out of the most common types of twists, there are the smart ones and the lazy ones. The smart ones are where the movie uses a twist to illuminate the themes of the movies and quietly leads you to it. The Sixth Sense is one of the best examples of this. The infamous twist ending packs a punch but the clues are integrated into the movie and in the end serve to give the audience a better understanding of the movie as a whole. Bruce Willis was so busy he ignored his wife and didn't realize he was dead.

The lazy ones are in films where they get sooooooooooooooooooooo crazy that the only way to end it is say it was all a dream or they were all dead etc, etc. The one that comes immediately to my mind is The Devil's Advocate. I got sucked into this one and when the ending happened I wanted to smash my tv.

So... how to spot a twist ending. Let's take it off of the above list

1. The protagonist did it as seen in High Tension.

Shit son, this one is employed soooo many times that you should go in assuming the protagonist did it in every movie. But since I brought it up, let's talk High Tension. There is NO WAY she could have been the murderer but the movie insists on it despite the sheer lack of evidence and logical implausibility. Like I say. It's in every movie. You just have to look for it.

2. Several of the characters are part of a multiple personality/ Main character suffers from multiple personalities as seen in Psycho

The mother of all horror movies, Psycho, gets this one down pat. You could also use Identity or My Soul To Take as examples. But they suck. A good rule of thumb for this one is look for over-acting and broad characters. The broader they are the more likely they are parts of one person. Over-acting is indicative of ... well ... the only way to play someone with multiple personalities. It ain't a subtle disease, people!

3. It was all a dream/premonition as seen in The Devil's Advocate

I think Keanu Reeves has made the most appearances out of any other actor in this blog. Which has to some kind of accomplishment. Anyhoozle, the easiest way to spot this twist is just to look for a bat-shit crazy plot line. Something that gets crazier and crazier and there looks like there's no way out, except there is. It was all a dream.

4. Protagonist attempts to solve a murder or find someone proving only that they are looking for themselves as seen in The Number 23

Memento is the best example of this but it's not a horror movie. The Number 23 is kind of something along the lines of suspenseful so we'll count it. Look for characters who are wearing the emotional equivalent of horse-blinders. Any character who doggedly pursues something did it. Now that's a guilt complex!

5. They've been dead the whole time as seen in The Others and Carnival of Souls

Limited contact with others. That's about it. This is generally used in classier horror films as it's subtler than any of the other cliches mentioned. To pull it off it requires a deft hand that not many have.

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