Plot Twists That Happen Right In The Middle Of The Movie And Change Everything

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Vote up the mid-movie plot twists that change everything.

Everybody loves a good movie plot twist. Who could forget how they felt when they learned Bruce Willis is already dead in The Sixth Sense? Or that Verbal Kint is Keyser Soze in The Usual Suspects? Or that Tyler Durden and the Narrator are the same person in Fight Club? A well-planned twist can blow viewers away, causing them to reassess everything they've seen in a new light.

Those twists all came at or near the end of their respective movies, though. Much more difficult is to skillfully put one right in the middle. People expect it less, and it can really give them a shake-up. When the film is only halfway over and suddenly something isn't what it seems, there's no way to predict what's going to come next. That's an exhilarating sensation. Directors as varied as Alfred Hitchcock, Jane Campion, and Bong Joon-ho have all pulled it off.

Photo: Parasite / NEON

  • From Dusk Till Dawn's twist not only shifts the plot in a different direction, but also completely changes the film's genre. The first half is about two sibling bank robbers, Seth (George Clooney) and Richie (Quentin Tarantino), who make a run for the Mexican border after their most recent heist leaves several cops dead. Needing a way to sneak in, they kidnap a preacher (Harvey Keitel) and his daughter (Juliette Lewis). After safely reaching their destination, the brothers celebrate by visiting a rowdy bar that comes complete with exotic dancers. It seems they've gotten away scot free, until they discover the bar's employees and patrons are all vampires. Suddenly, they're faced with more danger than they've ever seen before. 

    This is the point where From Dusk Till Dawn goes from crime thriller to horror movie. Seth and Richie are suddenly in a fight for their lives. They need to kill all the vampires if they want to get out of that bar. All sorts of bloody mayhem occurs, with the preacher and his daughter caught in the crossfire. Shifting genres midway through a movie is a gutsy move. In this case, doing so helps to make the audience feel the same shock the characters feel.

    5,508 votes

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  • 2
    3,800 VOTES

    Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho begins by introducing us to Marion Crane (Janet Leigh). She's a real estate secretary who embezzles $40,000 from her place of employment in order to pay off her boyfriend's debts. They can't get married until he's free and clear. On the way to his place, she stops at the Bates Motel for a night. There, she meets Norman (Anthony Perkins), the owner of the place. He confides in her about his controlling mother. Something about the guy seems off to Marion. She's right. After a wave of guilt, she decides it would be best to go back and return the money. It's an opportunity she'll never get. As she showers, Mother rips open the curtain and brutally kills Marion with a knife.

    Psycho's plot twist has gone down as the most significant and surprising in film history. That's because Hitchcock completely subverts expectations. He makes the audience believe the movie is about Marion Crane. Once she's killed off, the viewer doesn't know what to expect. The plot shifts to reveal that it's really about Norman and the psychosis that has led him to become violently demented. Marion's boyfriend Sam and her sister Lila come looking for her when she disappears, and a cop begins poking around. All of this leads to the revelation that Norman has adopted a second personality - that of his deceased mother, whose corpse sits in a rocking chair in his attic.

    Killing the presumptive protagonist during the first half of a movie had never been done before, and it rocked audiences to the core. Wes Craven co-opted the idea in 1996 when he killed off Drew Barrymore in the opening scene of Scream.

    3,800 votes

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  • 3
    2,128 VOTES

    Antonio Banderas has one of his juiciest roles in Pedro Almodovar's The Skin I Live In. He's Dr. Robert Ledgard, a plastic surgeon who's been trying for years to develop an artificial skin that could be used to help burn victims. The idea for this came to him after his wife Gal was badly burned in a car accident. Ledgard has a new batch of the skin that he's bullish on, but he needs a test subject, given that his formal research has been shut down. To that end, he holds a woman named Vera (Elena Anaya) captive in his home. Housekeeper Marilia (Marisa Paredes) aids him in this scheme.

    Partway through the movie, it's revealed that Marilia is, unbeknownst to Robert, his biological mother. That's not the big twist, though. The real shocker is that Vera is really Vicente, a young man Robert mistakenly believes once violated his daughter, ultimately driving her to take her own life. After that incident, he kidnapped Vicente, using his medical skills to forcibly put him through gender reassignment surgery. He's now a woman. Not just any woman, though. Robert has made him a virtual dead ringer for Gal. It's a delicate plot point, but yes, he expects all the things that come with marriage from his new “wife.” The twist here alters our perception of Dr. Ledgard. He is not the benevolent healer we initially believed him to be. He is instead a demented genius, using his talents for revenge and other sick purposes. 

    2,128 votes
  • 4
    2,079 VOTES

    Edgar Wright's The World's End stars Simon Pegg as Gary King, a semi-functioning alcoholic who reunites with his four teenage best friends to do a pub crawl. The plan is to hit 12 pubs in their hometown over the course of one night. What's supposed to be an evening of fun ends up becoming something else. Long-buried tensions between the men come out, and it grows increasingly clear that Gary no longer has control of his drinking. Two of the guys also compete for the affection of the same woman. 

    The movie seems like it's going to be a story of friendship and how events from the past impact us in the present. Then one of the men gets into a fight in a bar bathroom. He punches a teenager, and the kid's head pops off, revealing him to be a robot. It's soon evident that just about everyone in town is a robot, all made to look like the local citizenry. Part of the hilarity in The World's End is that it abruptly becomes a tale about humans fighting robots, but Gary nevertheless remains intent on finishing the crawl, even though everyone's lives are in grave danger. The movie ties those things together, showing how facing down an android army spurs Gary to finally get his act together.

    2,079 votes

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  • 5
    1,909 VOTES
    Photo: NEON

    Best picture Oscar-winner Parasite follows the impoverished Kim family, whose members con their way into working for another, extremely wealthy family. Once inside their sprawling home, the Kims treat it as their own, living the high life on someone else's dime. At one point, while the owners are away, they feast on their food and lounge around on their furniture. The house has a secret, though, and it reveals itself roughly an hour into the film. The rich family's housekeeper, whom the Kims have gotten rid of, has been hiding her husband in the basement. He's been living down there for four years in an effort to elude loan sharks. Once this situation is discovered, the housekeeper threatens to expose the Kims.

    This sets off a war that consumes all three families. The Kims want to hold on to their cushy gig. The housekeeper and her husband want to keep their hiding place. And the rich family obviously doesn't want anyone leeching off them. With everyone growing increasingly desperate, violence breaks out, culminating with a birthday party in the backyard that turns bloody. Parasite uses its twist to comment on the economic disparity in the world, as well as the way poverty can occasionally drive people to do things they wouldn't normally do, simply in order to survive. 

    1,909 votes

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  • 6
    2,079 VOTES

    Neil Jordan's The Crying Game follows Fergus (Stephen Rea), a member of the Irish Republican Army. He's assigned to watch over a kidnapped British soldier named Jody (Forest Whitaker). The two form something of a bond, against IRA protocol. Jody asks Fergus to look up his girlfriend Dil (Jaye Davidson) if he ever makes his way to London. He does, and after meeting Dil, he begins to fall in love with her. Their relationship progresses to the point where it's about to become physical. That's when Dil disrobes, and Fergus sees that she is transgender.

    The Crying Game was marketed on the fact that it had a big “secret,” and ads implored people not to reveal it to their friends after seeing the film. What happens following the twist is perhaps more surprising, though. The movie was uncommonly progressive for 1992. Although initially upset to learn that Dil is transgender, Fergus's feelings are so intense that he continues to love her after having some time to digest the situation. Both are caught up in dangerous dealings involving the IRA higher-ups, and Fergus protects Dil from harm. The story ends with Fergus in prison, where Dil comes to visit him. It's clear the feelings between them are still in full effect. The film's message is that love is love, and if you have genuine feelings of love for someone, that's a positive thing.

    2,079 votes

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