Nothing will ruin a perfectly good movie more than a bad twist ending.
You know what I’m talking about. The movie has been building up so much suspense. There’s action! Thrills! Chills! And then, a surprise twist ending that no one saw coming! That will keep audiences talking about the ending they didn’t see coming.
Trying to shock audiences with a twist reveal is quite a gamble.
Sometimes it works. I remember the first time I watched The Sixth Sense, and it definitely got me. I then had to watch it again and look for clues that pointed to the twist the entire time. Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho is a classic example of a brilliant twist. Hitchcock was the master of brilliant and unexpected plot twists. And even kids’ movies can employ a good surprise, like in Coco when Miguel discovers Héctor is his great-great-grandfather and was murdered by Ernesto.
But sometimes, the twist ending really doesn’t work. And when it doesn’t work, it can wind up ruining the entire rest of the film. It doesn’t matter how wildly entertaining or thought-provoking the movie was. Just one nonsensical, implausible, or bland twist at the end is enough to bring the whole thing down.
These are the films we’re going to look at today!
Just as much as a good plot twist will leave audiences talking, so will a bad one. There are some so bad that they’ll end up the only thing you even remember about the movie.
It’s probably obvious, but I feel like I still need to add this disclaimer: SPOILER ALERT! As I dive into this list, I’m going to have to spoil the endings of these films. The terrible, terrible twist endings.
Let’s get started!
In the middle of all that Twilight pandemonium, Robert Pattinson starred in another film called Remember Me. It’s a romantic drama centered on two college students: Pattinson is Tyler, whose parents divorced after his brother’s suicide, and he has a strained relationship with his father; and Ally, a police officer’s daughter who lives each day to the fullest after witnessing her mother’s murder. As his relationship with his father finally starts improving, Tyler sits in his father’s office waiting for him.
This is where the twist comes in. Tyler’s sister arrives at school, and the teacher writes the date on the board: September 11th, 2001. Tyler looks out the window at his dad’s office on one of the highest floors of the North Tower of the World Trade Center. I’m still trying to figure out why a romantic coming-of-age drama ended with the main character dying in his dad’s office on 9/11.
2007’s Spider-Man 3 continued the series-long arc involving Peter Parker’s best friend, Harry, swearing revenge on Spider-Man for killing his father. There’s action, special effects, and the appearance of Venom. Harry utilizes his dad’s Green Goblin technology to come after his bestie Peter, having discovered he’s really Spider-Man.
The action all comes to a halt, though, when Harry’s butler, Bernard, decides to fess up all of a sudden. The guy, who has had a handful of lines in the entire series of three movies, steps in to explain that he always knew Norman was the Green Goblin and that Norman killed himself by accident while trying to kill Spidey. Harry spent all that time obsessing over getting revenge on Spider-Man, to the point of madness, and his butler just let him do it for no reason? What a clunky, lazy way to end a compelling storyline.
Widowed former reverend Graham Hess lives on a farm with his children and brother. He discovers a series of crop circles in the corn fields, and then they start appearing in other locations, too. As a worldwide alien invasion begins, Graham and his family barricade themselves inside the house. Although aliens break into the home, the family takes shelter in the basement and survives the night.
When they emerge the next day, news reports say the aliens left abruptly, as if something scared them off. Turns out, water is lethal for the aliens, and Graham and co. can easily defeat one of the invaders with some tap water. Can someone explain why an alien species that is vulnerable to water would attempt to invade Earth, a planet that is about 71% water?
Nicolas Cage is an angel named Seth who watches over humans and appears to help guide them into the next life. But while waiting to escort a man to the other side, he finds himself infatuated with the surgeon, Maggie. With the guidance of a man who also used to be an angel, he ditches immortality and becomes mortal so he can be with the woman.
But here’s the thing. He tracks her down, and she finds out he gave up immortality for her love. They spend the night together. Sweet and romantic, right?
And then, she rides her bike to the store the next morning and dies. So now, Seth is mortal and alone.
Related: Top 5 Most Unhinged Nicolas Cage Performances
When a ferocious storm breaks out, ten strangers find themselves stranded together at a desolate Nevada motel run by a man named Larry Washington. But when people start turning up dead one by one, they scramble to figure out who the murderer hiding among them is. In a parallel story, a convicted man waits to find out if he will be executed for a vicious mass murder.
Identity had all the great markers of a great whodunnit thriller until a lazy ending swooped in and ruined it all. First of all, a 9-year-old boy was the killer at the motel, despite the fact that tons of things would have required feats of strength that the kid just didn’t have. Oh, and all the hotel guests are apparently just the convict’s multiple personalities that he’s killing off inside his head because, apparently, he won’t be executed with the homicidal personality removed.
Journalist Rowena Price suspects advertising exec Harrison Hill murdered her friend Grace, whom he was having an affair with. Rowena goes undercover and poses as a temp at the ad agency in an effort to find evidence incriminating Hill. It all results in Hill’s conviction after there’s proof that he had access to the poison used in Grace’s murder. There’s also a weird subplot with Rowena’s researcher, Miles, who is secretly in love with her and has some kind of shrine to her in his apartment…
Okay, but then it’s revealed that the real killer was Rowena all along. She poisoned her friend who had been blackmailing her since childhood and launched the investigation into Hill to frame him for the murder. Then she murders Miles for figuring the whole thing out. It’s so surprising because it’s so nonsensical. You essentially have to forget the entire movie you just watched because none of it makes sense if Rowena was the killer the whole time.
John Hancock (Will Smith) is an immortal superbeing with no memory of anything before 80 years ago. He’s kind of a sarcastic, bitter hero who usually causes destruction when he tries to save the day, thanks to his alcoholism. But when he saves the life of a public relations specialist named Ray, he offers to help fix Hancock’s public image. He thinks it’ll be a great opportunity. Hancock goes to prison for a bit and then gets let out when crime rates skyrocket.
After Hancock kisses Ray’s wife Mary (wtf dude), it’s revealed that she is also an immortal superbeing and just happens to be Hancock’s soulmate from thousands of years ago. When he lost his memory 80 years ago, she just… left? Mary tells him that being close to each other makes them turn mortal, so Hancock goes to the moon and imprints it with Ray’s logo. I’m serious.
Residents of a small, isolated 19th-century village live in fear of sinister beings that live in the surrounding woods. No one ever leaves, and outside the village – aka “the towns” – are described as wicked. The Elders keep physical mementos hidden in black boxes, which are supposedly reminders of the evil and tragedy in the towns they left behind before coming to Covington.
It’s not until Ivy, the blind daughter of Chief Elder Edward Walker, ventures out to find medicine that we discover Covington isn’t really an 1800s village. Instead, it’s an isolated community in the middle of a nature preserve, filled with a bunch of grown adults playing make-believe because they ran away from the real world. Edward was really just a professor who recruited people he met at a grief counseling clinic. He used his family fortune to purchase the preserve, built a fake old-timey village, and paid off the government to ensure it was a no-fly zone. And the monsters in the woods were just community members in costumes trying to scare the kids.
Talk about a bland, convenient – and frankly, implausible – ending. It really checks all the boxes for a movie-ruining twist.