In the land of movies constantly needing to one-up each other with increasingly outlandish vigor, plot twists have almost become as commonplace as the movies themselves, even if they have always been there. Movies wouldn’t be movies without some surprises along the way, despite how much marketing likes to give away ahead of time. Remember when the trailer for What Lies Beneath (2000) actually explicitly gave away the film’s secret? People still went in droves without realizing that their enjoyment would be twofold if they hadn’t known everything before going in.
So, I guess, we’re here to do that some more and give away some of the more ridiculous twists in horror movies. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Haute Tension (2005)
The grand-daddy of incredibly stupid third-act twists is this ultra-violent French film about a particularly gruesome killer attacking a family at their home in the countryside. Family friend Marie manages to escape, but the killer is hot on her heels until it’s revealed that Marie is the killer and that the entire second half of Alexander Aja’s film literally begins to make zero sense. None. Not one single bit. A similar plot device was used in the Peruvian film The Silent House (2010) and its American remake in 2011 when a young woman who’s being stalked throughout a ramshackled house in the wilderness is in fact the one doing the killing and sense gets thrown out the window.
Halloween: Resurrection (2002)
The twist in this film, the eighth of the long-running series that began with Halloween (1978), happens in the opening scenes. For some reason the filmmakers thought audiences who had been through three films with everyone’s favorite “final girl”, Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode, would want to see her finally reach her end at the hands of brother Michael Myers after having been committed to an asylum. It was not only a crummy, undignified end for one of the genre’s most legendary characters, but also a disappointing return to the cheap sequels of before, especially given how surprisingly good Curtis’ return to franchise was several years earlier in Halloween: H20 (1998).
Friday the 13th: Part V – A New Beginning (1985)
You know what viewers don’t want? A Friday the 13th movie without Jason Voorhees (or his mother). Much like Halloween 3: Season of the Witch, which aimed to spin off the story into a Marvel-style universe that didn’t focus entirely on one killer, the fourth sequel to Friday the 13th (1980) was the planned beginning to a new trilogy with a new killer taking on the Voorhees identity. What producers didn’t count on was how much affection (is that the right word?) viewers had for the deformed summer camp victim who put on a hockey mask and took revenge on campers and counselors alike. Jason was promptly bought back after disappointing fan response in Friday the 13th: Part VI – Jason Lives.
Urban Legends: Final Cut (2000)
Surely one of the silliest and also most convoluted of endings is found within this sequel to the equally daft, yet also rather entertaining, Urban Legend (1998). When students at a film college start being knocked off one-by-one, suspicion falls on Amy, another student whose thesis film is about mysterious urban legends. Turns out the killer is really one of their professors who is bitter from never having made it in the film industry and is using Amy’s film to frame her. Not at all a twist, the follow-up sequel, Urban Legend: Bloody Mary (2005), went direct-to-DVD.
The Number 23 (2007)
So, when Jim Carrey’s character discovers a book about the secrets of the number 23 written by – and I am not making this up – Topsy Kretts. Topsy Kretts! Top Secrets! My forehead just hit a thousand desks. Anyway, this incredibly dumb movie reveals the writer of that book to actually be Jim Carrey’s character and that he survived a suicide attempt off his balcony and had amnesia. Goddamned amnesia. I honestly couldn’t make up something more patently absurd than having the twist be amnesia.
Scream 3 (2000)
In one of the most preposterously long bows to draw, Wes Craven’s trilogy-capping Scream 3 went above and beyond the call of third-act twist duty by making not only the mystery Ghostface killer a character that had already died (and had his pulse checked to prove it), but then made up an elaborate backstory involving the killer being the long-lost brother of series heroine Sidney Prescott and having orchestrated the entire series of events four years prior in Scream (1996) that led up to the climactic showdown in the Hollywood Hills. This film works better as a comedy, so best to laugh along with it.
The Devil Inside (2012)
The twist at the end of this boring demon possession film is that it has no ending at all. Infuriating moviegoers everywhere who had spent money on a fairly incompetent 80-minute found footage film by suddenly cutting to black and revealing a web URL that audiences should visit to discover what happened next. Genuinely one of the most abhorrent rip-offs you’re ever likely to experience. The real twist comes when you realize they stabbed you in the heart and twisted the knife while they laugh and take your money.
The Forgotten (2004)
Aliens. The aliens did it. What a load…