Plot twists in movies are surprisingly divisive with audiences.
Some love 'em, others hate 'em. When deployed correctly, of course, plot twists can be wickedly smart because the best ones often play with your own biases and interpretations.
The worst ones, however, are dropped in at the last minute and without any kind of hint or acknowledgement of where the audience is with the story. Over the years, plot twists may have dulled somewhat, but there's been some cracking ones too.
Here's our pick of some of the best.
Twist: Dr. Banks (Amy Adams) was being shown her own future by the aliens
Brainy blockbusters have been enjoying something of a comeback in recent years, and all of it is thanks to Denis Villeneuve. 'Arrival', based on the novella 'Story of Your Life' by Ted Chiang, the concept seems so abstract initially but then it becomes all the more clear as the story progresses. We realise that seeing the future isn't so hard after all - if we can view through a prism we can understand. How it's handled in the movie is a little haphazard, but once you see it all lined up, it's fantastic.
Twist: Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) was murdered by Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins), not Mrs. Bates
There's actually a double-twist in 'Psycho' in having Marion Crane, the movie's main protagonist, killed off inside the first third of the movie too. While that might all seem trite to us now after years of 'Game of Thrones' and so forth, it was nothing short of revolutionary in 1960. Indeed, Hitchcock famously requested cinemas to stop anyone from entering a screening after it had begun to help preserve the mystique around it. The gender-bending twist, however, hasn't really aged all that well.
8. 'Get Out'
Twist: Rose (Ashley Williams) and her family plan to harvest Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) for a consciousness transplant
You could also argue as well that the very final scene - in which Chris runs out in front of a police car, and manages to survive - is a twist in and of itself. So much of 'Get Out' is about the experience of being black in the US, and it's not surprising that many watching the final moments expected Chris to be shot dead by a police officer. Of course, that's not the case - but it was something that Jordan Peele toyed with, and even had an alternate ending in which Chris is arrested and sent to prison, as he can't remember any of the events that transpired in the movie.
Twist: Tyler Durden and the Narrator (Brad Pitt and Edward Norton) are the same person
A narrator-based twist became somewhat common in movies during the early aughts, though the concept of an unreliable narrator has been around for much, much longer. 'Fight Club' utilised it as a commentary on both the narrator's inadequacies and how the concept of masculinity can trick men into being ultimately self-destructive. That you can go back over the movie and clock some of the nods and winks to the twist is a testament to David Fincher's attention to detail.
Twist: Half the movie is a fantasy made up by a struggling actor
Obviously, David Lynch's surreal psychological thriller was going to feature somewhere along the way in this. Is it actually a plot twist, however? It certainly is shocking when you realise that everything up to a certain point has been a pastel-covered, sheening fantasy, but this is David Lynch - you have to expect some kind of weirdness, or it wouldn't be half as interesting. Indeed, Lynch actively cultivates that mystery throughout the movie. Early DVD copies came with a list of clues to unlocking the movie written by Lynch. Dream theory has been used to try explain some of the movie's deeper meanings too. All that aside, it's still just a fantastically mind-bending experience to watch it for the first time.
5. 'The Sixth Sense'
Twist: Malcolm (Bruce Willis) was dead the whole time
You might think we're being unduly critical by not putting 'The Sixth Sense' up nearer the top three in this list, but we'll explain why. For one, M. Night Shyamalan's career has now become so synonymous with twists that it's kind of cheapened what made 'The Sixth Sense' so great. Not only that, there's a good few plot holes that are just too big to ignore. How come Bruce Willis never thought it was weird that his wife was talking to herself? How did the penny trick work? Was it just floating in the air? Yes, fine, we're nitpicking.
4. 'The Usual Suspects'
Twist: Keyzer Soze was Kevin Spacey
What's so great about the twist in 'The Usual Suspects' is that as Kevin Spacey's character walks away from the interview, we ourselves are left wondering what we just saw. Did he invent the whole thing? Was he this Hungarian criminal mastermind? Was Kobayashi real, if he picked him up afterwards? Did Soze plan the whole thing to get them all in the same room? The twists were so plentiful that, on set, Gabriel Byrne believed his character was Keyzer Soze, not Kevin Spacey's.
Twist: Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker's father
Although we might think that it's all so glaringly obvious now, the truth is that it was an incredibly well-kept secret in 1980. So much so in fact that George Lucas, James Earl Jones, Mark Hamill and Irvin Kershner were the only people in the production who knew about it. Hamill revealed years later that the original line spoken during the scene by David Prowse was that Obi-Wan killed his father, and that the true nature of the scene was kept hidden from everyone until the movie was locked and finished. Imagine trying to keep that secret in today's world?
2. 'The Others'
Twist: Grace (Nicole Kidman) and her children are ghosts, and "the intruders" were real people
It's not enough to compare this with 'The Sixth Sense' because, quite honestly, it goes so far beyond it. Sure, the whole ghosts-the-whole-time thing was already out there, but what 'The Others' does so much better is that it layers it all with a gothic sensibility and an atmosphere that is subtly terrifying and heartbreaking in equal measure. It's only after the fact that you get the significance of some scenes and beats. Christopher Eccleston's lost soldier-father, for example, came home as a ghost of war and couldn't reconnect with his humanity. That it's done with such care and attention, and is never once played up for specific shock value, makes it all the more graceful than 'The Sixth Sense'.
Twist: Evelyn Mulwray (Faye Dunaway) is her sister's mother
From the get-go, 'Chinatown' is a movie of twists. The Evelyn Mulwray who hires JJ Gittes was, in fact, an impostor. The drought that Los Angeles is experiencing is actually man-made, and being done as part of a shady land deal. JJ Gittes is even himself a twist. We initially perceive him to be a cynical PI, who has no interests beyond his own. He even tries to convince Evelyn Mulwray that the only reason he's interested in the case is that he almost lost his nose.
Yet, when the horrible truth surfaces that sets off the chain of events - that Evelyn Mulwray is a victim of abuse, and gave birth to a child of incest - it leaves these lies in the dust and towers over all. Then, in the final scene, when Noah Cross triumphs and snatches Katherine - the daughter-sister - the cynicism that JJ Gittes carried throughout the movie is washed away, and the look of utter anguish is unbearable. Should he have gotten involved in the first place, or should he have heeded his captain's advice all that time ago?