Plot Twists That Redeem Otherwise Forgettable Movies

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Vote up the twists that completely save the movie.

Plot twists can either make or break a movie. If an otherwise good film has a ridiculous plot twist that doesn't help the narrative in any way, it kills the movie. Conversely, if an otherwise crummy film has a good plot twist, there's a chance the movie will be redeemed. Granted, it doesn't happen often, but there are a few bad movies that have been released that aren't as bad as most people think, and that's entirely due to the plot twist.

This list takes a look at some of those movies that were bad, didn't do commercially well, or weren't really appreciated by audiences when they came out but have since been recognized for their brilliant plot twist. Some of the films on this list were critically successful, and a few made a lot of money, but the main reason they weren't completely trashed is due to the plot twist that came in the third act and turned an otherwise thin film into something worth watching.

Take a look down below and if you see a movie you think was saved by a creative plot twist, be sure to give it an upvote to see which one rises to the top!

Since every movie on this list has a plot twist, take this as a SPOILER WARNING for every movie!

  • 1
    4,001 VOTES
    The Others
    Photo: The Others / StudioCanal

    The Others is set in rural Britain and centers around a woman named Grace and her two children. Both of the kids are afflicted with an allergy to sunlight, making it dangerous to leave any windows exposed. Grace has large, heavy curtains covering any source of natural light, but as the film progresses, the curtains are open in rooms where she knows she's closed them. Grace also notices strange things throughout her home, leading her (and the audience) to believe the place is haunted.

    As the story continues, the creep factor ramps up when her little girl is seemingly possessed by an old woman. There's also talk of another child in the home that her son has been speaking with, and Grace begins to lose her grasp on the situation. Just as the film builds up to its conclusion, it's finally revealed that Grace's home is haunted, but not in the way she thinks. The plot twist reveals that she and her kids had been dead all along, and it was the living who were haunting the home.

    At least, that's how it appeared from her perspective, while the people living in her home experienced the more traditional style of haunting. It's a haunting but from the perspective of the ghosts, which makes The Others a truly remarkable film. Haunted house movies are nothing new, so the film wasn't on track to be anything too spectacular, but the twist changed all that. It introduced an innovative concept into the traditional narrative, making it into a truly enjoyable film.

    4,001 votes

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  • 2
    1,606 VOTES


    Photo: Identity / Sony Pictures Releasing

    Identity is loosely based on Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None but with some modern changes that bring the story into the 21st century. The movie opens with a convict awaiting execution for a series of murders that took place in an apartment building. Meanwhile, ten strangers are cut off from the rest of the world in an isolated Nevada hotel by a freak thunderstorm. It doesn't take long for people to be killed, one by one, 

    The setting switches back to the convict at a hearing where it's revealed he has dissociative identity disorder and he has 11 different personalities. Back at the hotel, the guests are being picked off by a mysterious assailant, and the murders are grizzly and horrific. Accusations fly as people point fingers, but it's unclear who the killer is. When the number of survivors is whittled down to four, it becomes clear that each of them is named after a state, and their birthdays all match - May 10th, the same day the apartment murders were committed.

    With this, it's revealed that the 11 people in the motel are actually the same person, though each is a different personality, or self, in the mind of the convicted murderer. The events in the hotel all happen in his mind, which uses the construct as a tool for each personality to fight over his conscious self. The sole survivor, a young woman named Paris, leads the killer's psychologist to determine that the homicidal personality has been killed.

    Of course, there's more than one brilliant twist in Identity, and the last is revealed at the end of the film. Just when it seems that the killer's psychotic personality has been quashed, the nine-year-old boy, Timmy, who was killed early in the movie, resurfaces. He faked his death in the motel, and he was the one responsible for all the killings. Timmy kills Paris, leaving him as the only remaining personality. Identity could have been a mediocre mystery film, but the twist in the middle and the one at the end completely change that, making it an exceptional mystery.

    1,606 votes
  • 3
    1,828 VOTES
    Shutter Island
    Photo: Shutter Island / Paramount Pictures

    Shutter Island is centered around US Marshal Edward “Teddy” Daniels, who arrives with his new partner at Ashecliffe Hospital, a remote asylum located on the titular island. He's there to determine what happened to a woman who was committed after taking the lives of her three children. The woman has seemingly escaped, but the evidence, or lack thereof, and the strange situation lead to a mystery that must be solved.

    As his investigation intensifies, Teddy begins to experience headaches and tremors, which begin to stress him to the point of becoming paranoid. He later learns that the hospital is lobotomizing patients to turn them into psychotic beings capable of carrying out all manner of atrocities. When he finally confronts the lead psychiatrist, Dr. Cawley, he's informed that he is, in fact, a patient - the most dangerous patient at the facility.

    He murdered his wife after she took the lives of their three children and was taken to the hospital for treatment. Ultimately, Teddy, whose real name is Andrew Laeddis, is overwhelmed by a flood of memories and faints, only to awaken in the hospital as himself.  The film's events are an intense form of psychotherapy Dr. Crawley and his staff hope will help Andrew cope with his past. The end of the film is somewhat ambiguous, depending on who you ask. Andrew is taken for a lobotomy after showing signs of regression, but this can be interpreted in two ways: He really did regress, or he chose to be lobotomized so he wouldn't have to live with the truth of what happened to him and what he did. 

    Shutter Island's twist ending is the only way this film could have concluded, as it makes up the entire story of Teddy and his past. If the movie didn't have it, it might have played out like many mystery/suspense films and wouldn't be worth watching more than once. Because of the twist, the film is not only engrossing but also rewatchable because there are tons of clues spread throughout that only become apparent after you've finished the film.

    1,828 votes

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  • 4
    1,022 VOTES


    Photo: Fallen / Warner Bros.

    Detective John Hobbes investigates a string of murders reminiscent of a killer he caught and was recently executed. Believing it to be a copycat killer, Hobbes investigates and uncovers similar murders committed by another man tied to the occult. He discovers the name “Azazel” written on the wall and learns it's the name of a fallen angel capable of possessing humans via touch.

    Azazel begins to taunt Hobbes by possessing people close to him, and as he enters each person, they begin singing the Rolling Stones' “Time is on My Side,” which is the same tune the executed killer sang before they threw the switch. Azazel then begins striking closer at Hobbes' family, and before long, Hobbes is implicated in a murder. Soon after that, Azazel kills Hobbes' brother leading to an inevitable confrontation in a remote cabin.

    Hobbes manages to get Azazel alone and trapped, as he becomes his only option for possession. Without anyone else around, if Hobbes dies, so too will Azazel, and Hobbes poisoned himself. As he dies, Azazel struggles to flee, but to no avail. At this moment, the twist hits: the narrator who'd been taking the audience through the movie is revealed to be Azazel, not Hobbes. What seemed like a story about Hobbes' survival in facing Azazel was the opposite, and the film closes with a possessed cat emerging from beneath the cabin.

    1,022 votes
  • 5
    1,320 VOTES
    Photo: Orphan / Warner Bros. Pictures

    Orphan features a couple, John and Kate, who tragically lost their unborn baby. To fill the hole left in their lives, they choose to adopt a little girl named Esther, and the family begins its life together in what appears to be a pretty standard affair. Unfortunately, it doesn't last long as strange things start to happen soon after Esther is brought home. Several dangerous moments lead Kate to wonder if Esther is responsible.

    The seemingly innocent child couldn't possibly be responsible for all that's going on, but it certainly begins to look that way. Still, the audience is left wondering what's going on right up to the plot twist that reveals Esther isn't the innocent girl she pretends to be. In fact, she's a 33-year-old psychopathic woman! Because of a hormone disorder, Esther doesn't age, and she uses makeup to mask the truth of her condition.

    This is a seriously innovative twist because pretty much anyone watching the movie leans on the ‘creepy little girl’ trope (including Kate). As it turns out, she's not a creepy little girl; instead, she's a homicidal maniacal adult! She even attempts to seduce her adoptive father, but when that fails, she kills him! The film concludes with Kate and Esther facing off on a frozen lake, and it perfectly caps off a truly interesting, if not freaky, thriller.

    1,320 votes

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  • 6
    1,161 VOTES

    Saw begins with two characters, Adam and Lawrence, waking up in a dirty bathroom. At the center of the room lies a corpse holding a gun with a tape recording that reveals the “Jigsaw” killer. Jigsaw provides instructions on what the captive men need to do: Lawrence must kill Adam by six o'clock, or his wife and daughter will die. It's not all doom and gloom, though, because Jigsaw has given Lawrence everything he needs: a loaded gun, his target, and a hacksaw he can use to saw off his own foot to get out of the room.

    A lot happens throughout the movie, but in the end, Lawrence shoots Adam (in the shoulder), hacks off his own foot, and crawls out of the bathroom. The twist comes when the corpse stands up, turns out the light, and says, “game over,” as he leaves Adam to die. The killer was in the room the entire time, and neither character realized it, which is certainly an unusual take on the body horror genre, to be sure.

    Saw has a lot of elements common to this kind of film. It's low-budget, takes advantage of limited staging by maximizing the bathroom's horrific nature in exceptional detail, and puts a lot on the line for the protagonist. It works best because of the plot twist at the end, as there are countless films similar to this one. Adding that nuanced level of control from the outset only to reveal it at the end makes Saw far more compelling than it would have been without the twist.

    1,161 votes

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