Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The Plot Twist

I'm going to take time out from going on about my movie to go on about other movies.

I just saw the movie Hancock last night, and if you've read any articles on it - which if you do because, it's a movie that has a "twist" to it and some might give it away. And this here is the main point of this rant.

Movies with a twist ending, or just a twist somewhere in there that's supposed to catch you off guard and make you say "I never saw that coming!" Very rarely have I ever said that, because most movies are incredibly predictable - not in a specific way, but perhaps generically.

The articles I mentioned about Hancock are about how this movie's twist has critics divided. First off, not much of a twist, saw it coming very early on. Did I predict it exactly? No, but I was actually pretty close - if I actually wanted to stop the movie and ponder it, I might've. Now, this doesn't make it a bad movie, just because you can see a plot twist coming doesn't change whether a movie is good or bad - however in the case of a movie like this, where the plot twist is out of almost nowhere, is a good thing. I think.

See there's too many movies claiming "You'll never guess the ending" that are complete and utterly obvious or the twist is just uninteresting or just not enough of one. This is directed specifically at M. Night Shyamalan, who has made a supposed career out of this type of movie, which sort of defeats the purpose. It's kind of like telling you're going to punch them in the face, do it, then you call it a sucker punch. Doesn't work like that.

If you go into a movie and it's basically bragging about how awesomely twisted it's ending it, then you'd better deliver big time or end up looking like an ass. Which is the case with Capt. Can't-Write-A-Good-Ending Shyamalan. He's telling you the movie has a twist ending before you've even seen it, he doesn't bother now because it's implied almost. So therefore there's no real twist, it's more of a case of can you out think him. Which ain't all that hard, kind of like trying to outwit a rock.

Don't take offense if you've actually fallen prey to his endings, I don't care who doesn't and who does - the point I'm trying to make is simply people, myself included, complain about these obvious twist endings that are about as impossible to suss out as finding your way out of your own house and now we have critics divided because a movie actually pulled off a genuine twist - without bragging or making it the big reveal at the end - that's it's too out of nowhere.

So is that to say we like our plot twists to be obvious, but not too obvious? I'm not sure what the moral of this story is really.

If you want to see what a genuine out of nowhere plot twist looks like, I highly recommend you check out The Caller, it stars Malcolm McDowell and Madolyn Smith Osborne (and no one else). Not a brilliant movie, but if you're like me and find most plot twist movies a little predictable, just try to figure this one out. If you do, you were just making random guesses and hoping for the best because there's nothing to indicate the ending of this movie.

Is The Caller a good movie because it kind of pulls off the twist ending? Not really, it's an amusing movie that you probably won't like to be honest with you. But it goes to prove my pointless point a little further. Why did we like Usual Suspects so much? People loved that twist ending, but Hancock? Some folks hated it's twist. The Caller? Maybe it went too far realistically speaking, I don't recall how it was received by critics. Even worse is the movie you guess the ending of having only seen the commercials - case in point, The Village.

I don't really know what my position is in all this myself. I like Usual Suspects, that's one I didn't see coming. Why? Because the movie kept my attention at the time and didn't make me want to jump ahead and figure out the ending. Hancock? I saw it coming but what else could you do with the movie? The Caller? Malcolm McDowell is cool and the ending was so abstract I had to admire it for that at least.

I guess it all boils down to whether the movie is good with or without a plot twist. I could even point out why some just don't work, but I won't, I'll just point at Shyamalan-a-ding-dong and say nothing else. How's that for a twist ending?


  1. I couldn't agree more. Just hearing someone say, "you'll never guess the twist in this one!" ruins the movie for me. I try to just watch the movie, but in the back of my mind I'm thinking, "Okay, so how could this be all very different from what were being led to believe....?"

    And then I think of it. Wasn't surprised by the Sixth Sense nor The Village. Hell, even way back in the 90s I figured the "girl" in The Crying Game was a guy. Not fun. And you hit it on the head--I wouldn't have figured any of those out without all the pre-film hype about "utterly shocking twists!"

  2. Anonymous5:09 AM


    You have to watch Sleepaway Camp for a WTF ending.
    The Village was utterly pathetic and obvious from the beginning.
    The Usual Suspects and Fight Club were amongst the few that caught me off-guard, but I'm still looking for the perfect twist...Everything seems to revolve around time discrepancies,aliens, seeing or being dead people,or a events told by a unreliable narrator...they have to be creative, if not, the should stick with a normal ending, for christ's sake!

    I REALLY don't want to see the "It was all a dream" cheap trick ever again!!!
    That's robbing people's time and a perfect excuse to explain inconsistencies.

  3. I'd forgotten all about Sleepaway Camp, I remember seeing it as a kid and at first having no idea what the hell was going on.

    A good example of "events told by an unreliable narrator", I think - or at the very least a bad movie with all the typcial plot twist elements all done to their worst ability is Traces of Red. And it's just a bad movie in general, so be warned if you dare bother with it.

    Why is it there's more examples of poorly done plot twists then good ones?