In this 2003 psychological mind-bender, 10 strangers find themselves stranded in a motel because of a torrential rainstorm that’s flooded the roads. What’s worse: they’re being killed off, one by one. As they struggle to make sense of who is committing the murders and why, we are suddenly let in on a big secret [spoiler]: this “motel” and these “strangers” exist only inside the mind of one man, who has dissociative personality disorder. The “murders” are his attempts to kill his extra personalities, including the psychopathic one, with the help of a psychologist. If that weren’t enough, some quality misdirection as to the identity of the true psychopath personality makes for a great ending.
Horror master Wes Craven knew the drill when he directed 1996’s “Scream”, which, in many ways, is a love letter to the horror genre itself. Though Billy seems to be the prime suspect, we’re led to believe that he’s innocent; the killer calls while Billy’s in jail, and near the end of the film Ghostface kills him. Darn, and we thought it was Billy all along. As we find out, however, [spoiler] Billy’s “blood” is corn syrup—“same stuff they used in “Carrie” for pig’s blood”—and he’s alive, thanks to help from his accomplice, Stu. Even more shocking, however, is the plot twist reveal that Billy and Stu are also responsible for the rape and murder of Sidney’s mom Maureen, who had been having an affair with Billy’s dad.
April Fool’s Day
Everything is just dandy when a group of college friends depart to their friend Muffy’s lake house—that is, until a ferry operator is crushed to death. They should recognize a bad omen when they see one. But nope! The party continues until people start turning up dead, and it’s revealed that their hostess might not be Muffy at all, but her twin sister Buffy, who has escaped a nearby mental institution. You just can’t make this stuff up, right? Well, as it turns out, you can. [spoiler] The whole thing is an epic charade masterminded by Muffy, and everyone’s in on the joke, except for Kit, and, of course, the audience.
The Cabin in the Woods
This 2012 horror film from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” creator Joss Whedon owes much to 1986’s “April Fool’s Day”. Both movies turn the genre on its head, with major plot twists that reveal all the carnage to be the work of some behind-the-scenes mastermind. Except the carnage in “The Cabin the Woods” is all too real; [spoiler] a group of scientists are behind the bloodletting, which is a form of sacrifice meant to appease an ancient evil lurking beneath the Earth’s surface.
In this psychological thriller meets noir murder mystery, Leonardo DiCaprio stars as U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels. Daniels and his partner have traveled to an insane asylum on an island off the coast of Boston to investigate the disappearance of one of the patients. Needless to say, things get weird–and creepy–fast, and we’re left guessing until the insane plot twist reveal at the end: [spoiler] Daniels is actually a patient at the hospital, incarcerated there for killing his wife after she murdered their children. The hospital staff has been playing out his “murder investigation” delusion the whole time, in the hopes of bringing him back to reality.
We knew a movie called “Saw” probably wouldn’t be a walk in the park, but writer/director James Wan blew our minds with his 2004 breakout horror show. In this film, two men wake to find themselves imprisoned in a room, with a madman threatening to murder their families unless they kill each other first. Both men are cuffed to large metal pipes, and there’s a single saw in the room. The major plot twist lies in the reveal of the madman’s identity, when [spoiler] we find out he’s been hiding in plain sight the entire time.
By now, everyone knows the meaning of getting “sixth-sensed.” But back in 1999, it was somehow possible for a movie to have a twist as major as the one in “The Sixth Sense” and not be spoiled by countless memes on social media. Little Cole lets us know at the very beginning that he “sees dead people,” so, really, [spoiler] we should’ve put two and two together when it came to Bruce Willis’ character. When all the scenes in which Willis is featured replay, we realize no one else (except for Cole) truly interacted with him. For those who saw the film in theaters and say they knew the ending, we’ve got two words for you: yeah, right.
This delightfully smart and scary French horror movie from 2003 was so gruesome that several scenes had to be cut for it to receive an R-rating in the United States. But what’s truly shocking is the plot twist, about three-fourths of the way through the film, about the identity of the killer. The whole time we thought Marie might be our final girl: [spoiler] the horrifying truth is, she’s our killer. This movie has much to say about the violence inflicted in horror films, particularly the violence against women. This makes the grand reveal something of a social statement as well as a great cinematic twist.
In this 2002 American remake of the original Japanese “Ringu”, Rachel Keller is determined to debunk the superstition about a curse linked to bizarre videotape. After watching the video, she unearths what she believes is actually a terrible case of child abuse. Once she uncovers the final resting place of little Samara, the girl in the video, she believes the curse has been broken. [spoiler] WRONG. As it turns out, Samara’s parents had good reason to throw her down that well.
In a nod to “Friday the 13th”, 1983’s “Sleepaway Camp” takes the twist-reveal of the killer’s identity to a new level. As it turns out, [spoiler] Angela is not exactly, well, Angela. She’s her brother, Peter, and the real Angela died years ago. Thanks to Felissa Rose’s awesome acting chops and the help of super creepy prosthetics, the plot twist reveal in this slasher flick is super, super disturbing: way scarier and weirder than any of the kills in the movie.
Fans of classic supernatural horror love 2001’s The Others, which is loosely based on Henry James’ short story, “The Turn of the Screw”. Grace and her children are holed up in their English mansion house because the children apparently suffer from extreme sensitivity to light. Sure. Well, the servants know something’s not right, and [spoiler] it turns out that Grace and her children are dead. All three of them. The scenes leading up to this plot twist—in particular, one heck of a séance and a weird interaction between Grace and her husband who has just returned from the front in WWII—make this a creepy plot twist thriller for the ages.
Perhaps the film with the most famous plot twist of all, Alfred Hitchcock’s classic 1960 film “Psycho” was unusual for a number of reasons. It was shot in black and white for stylistic reasons. Then, Hitch killed off his huge star in the first 45 minutes of the film. Finally, of course, there was the identity of the killer. We hear Norman scream “Mother! Oh Mother, what have you done?” after Marion meets her end in the shower, but, of course [spoiler] Mother’s been dead for years, living on in the mind of her son. Psycho was so horrifying to audiences at the time that people were dying to see it, waiting in line for hours to catch a screening. In fact, it was Hitchcock’s most profitable movie of his entire career and the most profitable black-and-white film ever made.
This story was written by Jessica Ferri and originally featured on The-Line-Up.com. The Lineup is the premier digital destination for fans of true crime, horror, the mysterious, and the paranormal.