Like any movie genre, there are plenty of horror movies that employ a story twist to shock – and in a lot of cases annoy – the audience, giving the preceeding events an entirely new perspective and making it worth a rewatch to catch all the hints and foreshadowing.
Whether these twists work is down to the skill of the director and the story involved, but with horror twists it usually doesn’t miss the mark. Usually. Here are five of the best horror twists that’ll wrinkle your brain and shock you to your core in some cases. Spoilers ahead for those concerned.
The original Saw film was unique in its vision, something the latter sequels all but ignored and butchered. The first film focused much more on the plight of those involved as much as it did the traps and the gore on offer, deciding to delve deep into the lives of the two main protagonists trapped in that dank and dirty bathroom.
Both Adam and Dr. Gordon wake up secured by their ankles and unable to leave, being told by a mysterious voice on a recorder that they have to play this game or die and be forever undiscovered. Of course we all know the story by now, but the twist was effective and out of the blue.
If Adam had paid attention when he woke up, he could have grabbed the key to free both of them from their bindings, instead, it ended up down the plughole. Oh, and that dead body that was laid between them with a bullet hole in his head? Well that’s John Kramer aka Jigsaw, the very person responsible for their incarceration. Latter films in the franchise attempted to follow suit with the horror twists, but each was far less surprising and effectual.
A horror twist that manages to be so depressing can’t be ignored, and that’s exactly what happens with this film. After a mysterious and unexplained mist descends over a small town, the inhabitants end up encountering supernatural beings that seem intent on ripping them apart. In a bid to survive, a small group take shelter in a supermarket, before deciding to try and drive their way through it towards some sort of safety.
Following a man and his family for the entire film, it isn’t an easy scene to watch when the fuel runs out and the car comes to a stop, still in the middle of this weird mist. Knowing the creatures are still outside, they come to the hard decision of killing themselves before the creatures can, and it falls to the father to do the deed.
Off camera we hear several shots, before it then shows us the father attempting to follow his family and kill himself, when the mist begins to clear and the army arrive. A few more minutes and the entire family would have survived, instead the father is left with that knowledge and is now all alone.
Not an out-and-out horror film, but close enough that this gut punch of a horror twist has to be included. The film opens with Dae-Su being kidnapped and forcibly kept inside a small, albeit fully functional apartment, with no clue as to who took him or why. This forced imprisonment lasts for fifteen years, and in that time Dae-Su has grown older, more tenacious and a little crazy, understandably.
After finally getting out, he sets upon his task of finding who took him and why, and enlists the help of a pretty, young woman who he happens upon. Finally finding the person responsible, they explain the reason as to why he was taken, but the twist is that the very same woman who has been helping him, the woman he has fallen in love with and slept with, is in fact his own daughter, and it was all part of a sick revenge plot. He’s given the opportunity to tell her but doesn’t, and it’s heavily hinted by the end that the relationship continues.
A mother sends her two kids to her grandparents place for a week long trip to relax and get to know one another. The kids are sent alone and up until now have never met nor seen their grandparents, but all seems well when they’re picked up from the station and taken back home by them.
As with other horror movies of course odd things start happening, and the grandparents act in increasingly odd ways, from scuttling under the house at the exploring kids, to much worse. When the kids contact their mother for a catchup and to explain some of what’s been going on, the mother catches a glimpse of the grandparents. Predictable yet horrifying to think about, the words ‘that’s not your grandparents’ are all what need to be said for this horror twist.
Drag Me To Hell
A down-on-her-luck bank teller takes her frustrations out on a gypsy woman who just wanted a loan extension, and as such is cursed by the woman. Throughout the film she does whatever she can to avoid going to hell and in an unlikely scenario for a horror film even seems to have succeeded.
Having done what she needed to survive and end her curse, she plans to go away with her boyfriend, but it all goes horribly wrong when she realises the penny she was supposed to give the now dead gypsy woman is in her pocket, instead she’d given her a button. The curse is still on her.
She falls on the tracks and in full view of everyone, is pulled to the depths of a fiery hell as she screams and fights, all because of a simple mistake.
That’s our five picks for horror twists, but what would you have chosen? What horror twists would have made your list?