Twists and Shocks: 9 Random Horror films that keep you guessing

Some horror films fizzle without the spark. Some meander along their duration with minimal expenditure. Some fail in any reasonable attempt to muster any more than a meh… 

In general, most give us light enjoyment at best but they’ll never live up to your movie brain expectations with the delights you crave.... 

There are a select few which give us more, a few shining beacons which will have you firmly rooted to the edge of your seat, some will leave your fingernails at risk of being chewed and some will cause toe tapping anxiety.

Then there are the ones that include all of the above emotions and feelings with the added bonus of staying with you long after the credits have rolled. Those special films are the ones you’ll be thinking about for days, weeks or even months!

While not all the films on this list may be earth shattering entrants to the genre, one thing is for certain, they keep you guessing and make you think. They will make your brain whirl and sometimes even hurt…. whether you want it to or not.......



I am also going to show that with good writing, direction and that all important twist, which can help make a film just as successful than a huge production summer blockbuster. Maybe not in terms of bankroll but in the entertainment they provide. 

In no particular order, please enjoy my list of 9 films that will keep you entertained, full of thought or even cringing for many nights.


*** WARNING - SPOILERS ***


SAW


When Saw first hit the big screen in 2004, I have to admit, I did not go rushing to see it. I suppose the main reason for that was the hype! Hype is one thing I don’t like to get caught up in. It can severely interfere with your perception or reception of a film and as such, I tend to keep my distance until the hype has died down.



With that being said, I managed to avoid all spoilers for this film until I eventually got the opportunity to watch it for myself.

The film follows two strangers who awake in a dim, dank bathroom, each chained up with little to no memory of how they got there. Accompanied by a dead body in the middle of the room, just out of reach of both of them, they slowly regain their memories and begin to piece together how and why they have found themselves in this strange and extremely compromising position.


It transpires that the dead body in the room is not dead at all. He is in fact the puppet master of the whole ordeal and announces himself right at the end of the film in a moment that will make you wish you’d believed your own mind when you said “I bet its the guy lying on the floor pretending to be dead!”

Twist Score: 10
Shock Factor: 8



THE MIST


Being an avid fan of Stephen King, this film was immediately on my radar. However, this film was not only one of the harshest mainstream films I saw in 2007, it is quite possibly the harshest mainstream ending ever! 

Following a freak storm, a small town is plagued by a strange mist which brings with it a host of weird and wonderful monsters with a taste for human flesh! Starring Thomas Jane, he, his son and a small group of survivors hold up in a supermarket in an attempt to survive the carnage going on all around them.


There were probably two things to get this film on this list so I’m going to talk about the first chronologically. One that annoys me more than anything, the scene I’m talking about see’s the most ridiculous display of interspecies violence imaginable. The "radicals" decide it would be a good idea to turn on their fellow survivors instead of banding together to battle the giant creatures thats have overrun the town!!!

Ok, so that part I can sort of forgive. You are always going to get some idiots who are intent on putting their own beliefs and thoughts on any situation but the big twist, which is probably more of a colossal shock comes right at the end of the film. 

In what is probably one of the most gut wrenching final scenes to any film, Thomas Jane uses his last remaining bullets to give an easy ending to his son and a few other survivors before letting the monsters devour him. As it would transpire, moments after the fatal shots, he awaits his own demise only to be confronted by the army as they sweep through on their rescue mission! The scream of a father who has just put his son out of his misery only to realise if they had waited only a few minutes more, all of them would have been saved! 




Heartbreaking and brutal to say the least!

Twist Score: 7
Shock Factor: 10



THE SIXTH SENSE


Well, what can be said about one of the best known thrillers of all time? A young boy who is plagued by visions of spirits, ghosts, whatever you want to refer to them as, he see’s dead people to paraphrase one of the most infamous, regurgitated, satired and mimicked lines in movie history. Bruce Willis shines as Dr. Malcom Crowe, a child psychologist employed to assist with a troubled young boy named Cole. Dr Crowe is somewhat reeling from a failed case which bares a striking resemblance to that of Cole’s. He strives to help this boy in a way that he was unable to in his other case but things may not be quite what they seem.


While the film itself is gripping and more than adequately entertaining, it keeps you thinking all the way through. With plenty of spook and jump scares to maintain it’s horror stamp. This is the ultimate showcase of what M. Night Shyamalan does best. A thriller with heart and atmosphere plus a mammoth twist to top it off. 


While there are very subtle clues which become more and more obvious on further viewing, it is revealed at the climax of the film that Dr. Malcolm Crowe is in fact a ghost himself and has been the whole time! His previous failed case which ended up with him receiving a bullet wound turned out to be fatal. In a way that can only be described as brilliant, Dr Crowe is completely oblivious to his life impairment and all the little hints along the way are easily misconstrued as everyday issues. Brilliant!  

Twist score: 10
Shock factor: 7



THE VILLAGE


Another M.Night Shyamalan film, another head scratcher and yet another twist! While this film follows a totally different path to that of The Sixth Sense, it does have that same feeling that comes with an M. Night film. 


The Village is about a small isolated community of god fearing people. They follow a strict set of rules and believe that leaving the village would be fatal as the monsters beyond the tree line would not appreciate their infringement and would mercilessly kill them. In a rural setting sometime in the 19th century, the village appears rustic and picturesque but one occupant suspects there is something more so sets out to prove his theory.

While this twist is impressive and gives the sense that what is seen should not always be believed, it is somewhat lacking in its delivery. It turns out the 19th century, rustic, idealistic town is actually a safe haven set up to protect a way of life and shelter the people from the outside world. In reality, they have created a level of control that is only rivalled by a dictatorship. As outside the boundary walls, the “real world” is actually modern day…

Twist Score: 7
Shock Factor: 5



THE OTHERS


The Others is about a woman, Grace and her young children Anne and Nicholas who are riding out the harsh times of 1945 in a mansion in Jersey. As the Second World War draws to a conclusion, Grace anxiously waits for her husband to return from battle. 


Grace and her children live in almost complete darkness due to photosensitivity disease the kids suffer from. The condition means that if they are subjected to the harsh rays of sunshine, they will be badly hurt. Struggling to cope with the stresses of raising two children with such restraints, she enlists the help of a housekeeper, a maid and a gardener but things in this already fragile and darkened environment take a turn when Grace becomes convinced that their home is haunted.

Things in the house develop further and the story begins to unravel as more and more strange things start to happen which makes Grace question everything. She even begins to question her own sanity!

The twist in this film while initially coming as a shock, makes more and more sense when elements are deconstructed. It is revealed that the spirits which have been seen by Grace and the children are actually living people performing a seance and the ghosts who occupy this house are themselves. 
























Grace regains her memory and having been so grief ridden after actually losing her husband to the war, she lost her mind and killed her children. When she realised what she had done, she killed herself!

Twist Score: 9
Shock Factor: 7



THE WICKER MAN


The Wicker Man is one of those films that everyone should see. It may be very well known/notorious for obvious reasons but if you strip it down to it’s rawest form, The Wicker Man is a very unsettling film indeed. It very much has that 1970’s British vibe to it and it plays on some very real concerns for the outer reaches of the country. Ones which may at the time have gone unnoticed by the authorities. After all, who could police the small, rural islands when they are so out of sync with the everyday occurrences of the mainland.


Sargent Howie travels to Summerisle, a small Scottish island just off the mainland to investigate the disappearance of a young girl. Upon arrival, no one is very helpful. In fact, he can’t even determine whether the information he has is genuine as no one admits to even knowing the missing girl. He soon realises that there is a lot more going on in this small township than he can handle and after meeting Lord Summerisle, played excellently by the late great Christopher Lee, he becomes entangled in pagan rituals bordering on occultist. 


After suspecting that the missing girl is to be offered up as a sacrifice during one the towns pagan rituals, Sargent Howie unwittingly allows himself to be offered up. In a scene that invokes pure dread on a disturbing level, we see the poor sergeant burnt alive inside a giant wicker man. The locals hold hands and sing folk songs, totally unflinching as the horror unfolds.


Twist Score: 7
Shock Factor: 9



THE DESCENT


A great entrant on to this list is none other than British made The Descent. I emphasise the British as being from Blighty myself, I do enjoy when something worthy, enjoyable and successful is gifted to the genre I love. The UK has supplied many scares over the year, The entire Hammer franchise is one that has lit up more than a few screens the world over and more recent forays include the hugely successful 28 Days Later and Shaun of the Dead. 

Having gained moderate success with the brilliant Dog Soldiers, Neil Marshall takes us into the depths of the earth in this eerily claustrophobic thrill ride which is sure to send shivers down the spine.


The main character Sarah, having gone through a horrific incident just a year ago, is invited by friends to go on a caving adventure. Tensions have flared because of the series of events that led up to the incident a year a go but this could be the bonding sessions a few of them need to right a few wrongs. As they venture deeper and deeper into the cave things take a nasty turn. With their exit blocked, they must travel deeper still into the cave to search for a way out. With supplies running low and tempers fraying, the group must try to work together to survive but…. They are not alone!


The twist with this film is more one of false hope. The real fear of this film could be argued. Is it the “friend” with whom you entrust your life that you should be scared of or is it the cave dwelling monsters who feed on human flesh? You don’t have to be a film major to appreciate the metaphors here! After a tense struggle between two of the survivors and with hordes of the flesh eating monsters closing in, Sarah escapes the cave and runs like hell to her car! Joy soon turns to agony as we soon learn that the whole escape had been nothing more than a figment of Sarah’s imagination. She never escaped the cave, she never reached her car and she was not on her way to freedom! She is in fact still in the cave. Her realisation that maybe all hope is lost! She closes her eyes and pictures happier times as the sound of the creatures closes in……. It must be noted that the US version actually has her escaping, I assume this was to set things up nicely for the sequel.

Twist Score: 6
Shock Factor: 8



SCREAM


When Wes Craven decided to breathe new life into the slasher genre, he did it the right way. 1996 saw the release of Scream. A film that would not only reinvigorate a sub genre that had become very stale but would ignite my initial love for the Horror genre as a whole. 

Scream follows the turbulent lives of a group of teenagers as they are stalked and killed off by a masked killer. As the one year anniversary of the death of Sydney’s mother approaches, a person dressed in a ghost mask starts terrorising the small town of Woodsboro. Sydney and her friends must come to terms with their current plight and try to solve the mystery of who is causing so much strife.


The twist in this film is somewhat different… There is obviously the whodunit twist which inevitably comes with any mask based slasher but for the purposes of this post, the twist I am concentrating on is the shock opening scene! 

We are first introduced to Casey Becker, played by Drew Barrymore. She is at home alone one evening getting ready for her boyfriend coming round to watch a scary movie. She receives a phone call from the killer who promptly invites her to “play a game”. After coming to the belated realisation that this is not a prank call and it most certainly is not one of her friends playing a joke, she has no option but to play the game.


After witnessing her boyfriend being killed, a very intense game of cat and mouse ensues and young Casey finally meets her maker. All of this unfolds in the opening scene. It is not so much how the killer goes about his business, although his line of conversation is very entertaining.



It has a lot more to do with the fact that who could have predicted that the most sellable star in this film would not see more than 12 minutes screen time?!

Twist Score: 7
Shock Factor: 8



NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD


George A. Romero’s classic zombie film I hear you say? Yes. The very same! This is widely credited with revolutionising the horror genre and without doubt bore the classic zombie which we all now know and love as being reanimated, flesh eating monsters. While the word Zombie is never uttered in this film, it has been cited as the beginning of a new age of zombie films. Previous incarnations of the “Zombie” were Haitian slaves, appearing in films like White Zombie.

Night of the Living Dead follows seven people as they hold up in a farmhouse after being set upon by a group of undead flesh esters. There isn’t much else I can say about this film without devoting too much time to breaking it down and micro analysing every facet of it…. So that is something I will do in another post!


The twist with this film is beyond shock… As a posse of gun wielding men move in to clean up the mess left by the hordes of zombies, they come across the farmhouse which had played host to the seven unlucky souls seeking refuge for the night. Lone survivor Ben, makes his way to the fresh light of day having survived the horror of the night. Mistaking him for one of the undead, the posse shoot him without warning, killing him with a fatal headshot. Ben’s body is piled up with those of the undead and burnt.


Bleak, I know. There is so much to say about this film that a follow up post is essential! Just another excuse to re-watch this film…

Twist Score: 6
Shock Factor: 8

So there we have it. A selection of films with some great twists to get your horror juices flowing. I am in no way calling this a definitive list or a list of top films containing the best twists, this is simply a small selection of films with some interesting, impressive and sometimes shocking twists.... I would love to hear from you if you have any thoughts on my list or think I should have included others over these.


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