We all love a good movie twist but there's frankly nothing worse than a totally dreadful one.
You've sat there for an hour and a half gripping the edge of your seat thinking: "Ooh, I wonder what's going to happen! What could possibly be the incredibly satisfying conclusion to this tantalising movie I'm so engaged with? I bet it will be a plot development so ingeniously tricksy that never in my life could I have come up with something so inventive. These movie people are so clever." And then boom, it hits you. The plants did it. And now you can't have your hour and a half back.
Here are nine really good movies to switch off slightly before the end.
1. High Tension (2003)
Vital, visceral, terrifying, Alexandre Aja's New French Extremist masterpiece sees two girls, Marie and Alex, head to a country house to stay with Alex's parents for the weekend. But on the first night there's a knock at the door. It's a serial killer, who brutally offs Alex's parents and younger brother, kidnaps Alex and stalks Marie. It's all extremely tense and shockingly violent.Except…
Marie was the killer all along! Even though that makes NO SENSE since there are several scenes featuring the killer away from all the action, not least a very early shot of him in his truck in a car park before he's even arrived at the country house using a severed head to perform oral sex on himself. Who's that meant to be, then? Stupid, stupid ending to otherwise brilliant film.
2. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Hogwarts gets to host the prestigious Triwizard tournament where the magic school's very best pupils compete with international academies Beauxbatons and Durmstrang in a dangerous contest. Players are selected by the "goblet of fire" and, inexplicably, Harry's name is spewed out despite him not actually being eligible because he's underage. He competes. He wins. But it all turns very dark when he touches the trophy,which turns out to be a teleporting device. Except…
The whole reason Harry ends up in the competition is because evil Barty Crouch (David Tennant) disguised himself as teacher Mad-Eye Moody (Brendan Gleeson), put his name in the goblet and then sneakily helped him win. The entire reason for this enormous load of hassle? So that Hazza will touch the portkey, end up in the graveyard and meet Voldermort. But that's crazy. Why not just make Harry's alarm clock a portkey (because magic) and set it for 6.45am? When he hits the snooze button, hey presto! Far less hassle and it'd save Voldemort kicking about in a graveyard for hours checking his watch and muttering: "FFS Harry, just win already."
In 2008, the same year that Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight came out, Peter Berg directed a movie that was almost the best, most anarchic antidote to po-faced superhero movies ever. Before Kick-Ass, before Super came Hancock, the story of a superpowered bloke who was a rude, reckless alcoholic that didn't give a crap about saving the world and was constantly causing untold damage. Widely hated by the city, he saves the life of a PR guru (Jason Bateman), who then goes to work trying to fix his image. Rude, funny, refreshing, it could have changed the face of the genre. Except…
It turns out he's a god or something, who's paired with Bateman's wife Charlize Theron, who is also a god and has been around for 3,000 years and for no reason or other they have to be apart otherwise their superpowers aren't so good, and so he can't kick about with her even though he loves her because she gets wounded and needs to heal. So he moves to New York. Boo freakin' hoo.
4. The Forgotten
Julianne Moore stars as a woman whose son died 14 months previously in a plane crash. But suddenly everyone keeps telling her that she never even had a son - her husband, her doctor, everyone. Even Dominic West, the dad of the little girl who used to play with her son, whose daughter also died in the crash, insists he had no daughter. At first, that is... When his memory is jogged, they're convinced there's something weird going on. And then the roof is blown off the whole thing.
No, really - the actual roof is blown off and the "agent" who is beginning to explain what has happened to their kids is sucked up into space by some aliens who are conducting a bizarre experiment to test the human maternal bond. Riiiight.
5. Jeepers Creepers
A girl and her brother are nearly run off the road by a scary-as-all-hell bloke in a trench coat driving a big truck. They later see the truck parked by an abandoned church, where the scary dude is dragging a body out of his truck and stuffing it in a pipe. Holy crumbs! Should they investigate? Clearly not, but they do and it's unbearably tense - get out of there Justin Long, quick, before the be-coated scary man returns! Except…
You can switch this one off midway, when you discover that the scary dude in the coat is actually some sort of winged beast who comes out every few years to eat people's organs and fly about the place conspicuously killing. Why's he driving round in the truck wearing the coat then? Terrifying horror movie becomes meh monster movie in one flap of a wing.
6. Source Code
Duncan Jones' follow up to Moon is a smart time-travel thriller starring Jake Gyllenhaal as a Colter, a comatose army vet on life support whose brain is being used for a mission to try to identify a terrorist who's going to set off a massive bomb in Chicago in 6 hours' time. Colter is able to go back in time (sort of) to enter the body (sort of) of a bloke on a train which has already been blown up by the same terrorist, and re-live the last few minutes of his life to try to discover who did it. It's quite tricky, it turns out, so Colter has to re-live the scene over and over again. Like the classic movie 'Groundhog Minute'.
Colter catches the crim, snogs the girl, calls his dad and asks his boss to take him off the life support and allow him to die. Perfect ending. Only it's not the ending, is it? Somehow (we don't know) he gets to re-write history in the alternate time line and live happily ever after in the body of someone else. Something that was explicitly ruled out by the movie's Basil Exposition character earlier on. Not sure how the train dude's family are going to feel when they find out. But that's a story for the sequel Jones should have made instead of doing Warcraft.
7. Kill List
This Ben Wheatley masterpiece draws inspiration from classics like The Wicker Man as it weaves its increasingly strange and nightmarish narrative of an ex-soldier who takes a job as a contract killer. Neil Maskell plays Jay, who, with his friend Gal (Michael Smiley) takes a contract bound in blood to kill three men - a priest, who recognises and thanks Jay before he's killed, an archivist who collects horrifically sick videos, and a senior politician. But Gal's new girlfriend is acting seriously weird, painting signs behind Jay's mirror. Why does the archivist have files on the two men's last mission? What's going on with that cult ceremony? And why does the leader seem so willing to be executed?
Dunno. That's why. At the end Gal dies, Jay is stripped and masked then forced to fight a hunchback who turns out to be his kid strapped to the back of his wife, who he stabs to death - she laughs and then dies. And then the cult people put a crown on him. Apparently it's something to do with King Arthur, not that you'd know.
Danny Boyle sets up a beautiful and tense science fiction tale about a 2057 manned space mission to reignite our dying sun after a previous attempt failed seven years earlier. Sunshine builds an intriguing and subtle picture of the future, exploring the psychology of deep space travel (pre-Interstellar) as the crew are faced with several disasters, eventually discovering the first ship, floating abandoned in the void.
...Or not quite abandoned. One man survived after going insane and killing the crew. And now, like a badly burned version of Michael Myers in space, he hunts down the members of the second crew one by one because mankind deserves to die or something, sending the movie jarringly into slasher territory. Oh, and he seems to be super strong and resistant to pain and possibly even made out of lava, but we'd really stopped caring by this point.
9. The Prestige
Christopher Nolan's brilliant magician movie sets out its stall early on. Hugh Jackman (Angier) and Christian Bale (Borden) are warring showmen with deep-seated grudges against each other after Borden accidentally becomes responsible for Angier's wife's death. The two sabotage each other's tricks, attempt to steal each other's secrets and find themselves attracted to the same woman. The movie is packed with dualities. Borden has a twin, Angier has a lookalike and the trick at the centre of the film, "The Transported Man", is all about pairs. Except…
There are plenty of twists in the movie, but the biggest one doesn't work at all. After stealing Borden's diary Angier goes to find (actual person) Nikola Tesla (David Bowie) who has invented a machine that creates clones of things. Angier then sets up Borden for murder by killing himself every night and replacing himself with a clone. Totally unnecessary, and a complete betrayal of the rules of the film, where everything is rationally explicable. It would have made a whole heap more sense if Angier had just killed his lookalike to frame Borden. More logical, more morally complex, more in keeping with the themes and less nonsense science fiction, since Tesla, as we know, didn't invent a magical cloning machine. And if he did, frankly, you'd imagine it would be too significant a scientific discovery to sell to some deranged magician in order to frame his nemesis. Where's his Nobel prize?
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