Top 10 Unexpected Plot Twists That Redeemed Bad Movies
VOICE OVER: Phoebe de Jeu
WRITTEN BY: Saim Cheeda
These twist endings changed everything! For this list, we'll be looking at the films that were considered less-than-stellar by either critics or fans, but made the experience worthwhile with a last-minute surprise. Our countdown includes “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines”, "Life", “Saw 3D”, and more!
Top 10 Unexpected Plot Twists That Redeemed Bad Movies
Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Unexpected Plot Twists That Redeemed Bad Movies.
For this list, we’ll be looking at the films that were considered less-than-stellar by either critics or fans, but made the experience worthwhile with a last-minute surprise. Of course, be warned: there will be major spoilers ahead!
Which movie do you think saved itself from mediocrity? Let us know in the comments.
#10: Calvin & David Land on Earth
“Life” is too similar to other alien-based films to feel original, featuring a story about a species that slowly takes out a space crew one by one. It has a rather generic plotline where the characters figure out a way to stop “Calvin” the alien. The ending makes it appear that Miranda North has escaped while David Jordan has sacrificed himself to prevent Calvin from reaching Earth. The film’s final moments are where this seemingly predictable story takes a huge turn, as it was Miranda’s pod that was knocked off course while David has reached Earth with Calvin. This changes “Life’s” direction completely, leaving us stunned with the chilling realization that humanity might be doomed.
#9: Jamie’s Father Isn’t Real
“Dead Silence” (2007)
Jamie Ashen tries to figure out a way to end his family’s curse as the ghost of ventriloquist Mary Shaw looks to end his bloodline. Taking a slow build toward its conclusion, “Dead Silence” spends a lot of its runtime showing the protagonist lost and confused. Jamie’s story is riddled with many bait-and-switch moments until he thinks he’s beaten Mary by destroying her last doll. However, the final moments have Jamie realize that he was led astray. His father turns out to be a doll controlled by his wife, who is possessed by Mary. With no place to run, a horrified Jamie learns this is how his demise was planned the whole time. Although the villain wins, the manner of her victory does deserve praise.
#8: Remy’s True Reality
“Repo Men” (2010)
This movie’s premise is about repo men in the future whose job is to repossess artificially enhanced organs. The main character Remy’s attempt to escape the repossession of his heart eventually spirals into a predictable chase story. The story seems to reach its cliche happy ending when a glitch brings everything back to reality. It’s revealed that Remy’s injury at one point in the film had caused severe brain damage and all that he sees is part of a simulation. Remy and his love interest are actually barely alive, meaning the “happy ending” only exists in Remy’s mind. This subverts usual action movie stereotypes in favor of a dark and realistic conclusion that is bittersweet yet thought-provoking at the same time.
#7: Azazel Possesses a Cat
This supernatural horror movie’s plot has detective Hobbes and Jonesy track the demon Azazel, who possesses people hoping to cause global calamity. The premise quickly takes a downturn since Azazel’s body-hopping becomes played-out and nothing else really happens. “Fallen” also comes across as too convoluted for a horror movie, but this makes way for an ingeniously simple twist no one would see coming. Before letting Azazel take over his body, Hobbes poisons himself while at a secluded cabin to ensure the demon is stranded forever. However, Azazel breaks the fourth wall to mock us for thinking the good guy would win, as he possesses a cat to head back to civilization. This intellectual twist proves the devil does come in many forms.
#6: Messner Turns on the FBI
“Smokin’ Aces” (2006)
FBI agents Messner and Carruthers are tasked to keep the informant “Aces'' alive from mob boss Sparazza’s bounty. Unfortunately, the influx of many characters turns this into a highly convoluted plot that runs around in circles until the climax presents the big twist. The FBI is revealed to be working with the mob, as Sparazza himself is an informant and Aces’ father whom the FBI hand over as part of their deal. Disgusted that the FBI’s own corrupt activities caused so many deaths, Messner pulls the plugs on both Aces and Sparazza to destroy everyone’s plans. After messing with the plot around so much, “Smokin’ Aces”’ morally appropriate ending presents a great contrast to all the prior over-the-top violence.
#5: Judgment Day Happens Anyway
“Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines” (2003)
By this point, it was obvious that the series would copy the format of the previous two movies. “Terminator 3” does indeed follow this style, with the titular character now protecting an adult John Connor from another advanced Terminator sent by Skynet. The story is on course for the usual sacrifice by the Terminator, but the final moments take an original twist never seen before in the franchise. It turns out that Judgment Day could never be prevented as was always believed, and that Skynet has already initiated nuclear bombs to begin a worldwide massacre. “Terminator 3” baits the viewer into a false sense of security to leave fans speechless as the series' promise of a dystopian future finally comes to pass.
#4: The Truth About Eli
“The Book of Eli” (2010)
“The Book of Eli” sees the titular character’s attempt to preserve the last copy of the Bible while escaping a warlord who wants the book’s knowledge. This dystopian movie has similarities with the critically acclaimed “Mad Max” series, but relies on the mystery of its protagonist so much that the action becomes a drag to watch. However, the closing moments show Eli’s been hiding an even bigger secret as the Bible is written in Braille, revealing that Eli was blind the whole time. Having given no obvious clues, the twist places the protagonist’s actions in a bigger context and signs off with an uplifting message. Eli’s journey was always meant to be spiritual, which changes the previously-bleak outlook of the film in an instant.
#3: Esther’s True Nature
This psychological horror story centers around the adoption of a child whose arrival sparks several incidents. “Orphan” is largely formulaic, with obvious signs of young Esther being an evil child. The build-up seems to point toward a cliche turn for the worst from Esther, but the reveal of her true nature comes out of nowhere. As it turns out, Esther is an adult woman posing as a young girl, meaning her malicious activities were the premeditated actions of a murderer, and not a disturbed child. The twist gives this thriller the eerie sense of horror it was going for. It also makes “Orphan” a highly rewatchable flick, as it’s interesting to go back and find clues for this twist hidden all along.
#2: Everything Comes Full Circle
“Final Destination 5” (2011)
The “Final Destination” movies have never been critical darlings, mainly because the plotlines lack many surprises. “Final Destination 5” follows the same pattern, featuring yet another group’s attempts to escape death but meeting their ends in gruesome ways. The main plot ends as expected, with the survivors planning to leave on a plane to celebrate their supposed victory over death. However, it’s then that the flight is confirmed to be the one shown in the first movie, meaning everything that’s happened so far has been set-up by Death to lead to this moment. As the plane crashes, the story comes full circle for the whole franchise, making it symbolic of the circle of life and death.
#1: Dr. Gordon Was in on It All Along
“Saw 3D” (2010)
The seventh movie loses all the nuances and thoughtful commentary from previous entries. Instead, “Saw 3D” is a straight-up gorefest that relies completely on the traps. The flick’s plot sees Mark Hoffman simply off everyone in his path and then take down Jigsaw’s wife Jill out of revenge. However, Dr. Gordon, whose status was never clarified until this film’s opening scene, shows up to attack Hoffman before he can escape. It’s revealed that Gordon was Jigsaw’s secret accomplice all along, meaning he had a hand in everything that happened in the series. This ties up all loose ends in one go, and at least gives this by-the-numbers movie the huge twist fans were looking for.