Plot twists can make you think and talk about a film for quite some time. A sudden change in the plot’s direction and characters’ perspective can give a new meaning to the story. If executed properly, a plot twist is capable enough of being the saving grace of otherwise dull or lackluster movies. However, there have been countless instances where even a spectacular plot twist failed to save a movie from bombing. When we come across these shocking twists, we can’t help but wish that the entire film was as good. Without any further ado, here are 15 plot twists that failed to save mediocre movies:
15. Lucinda’s Betrayal (Derailed – 2005)
It takes a lot of effort to make a thriller movie stand out due to the genre’s over-saturation as well as the difficult task of keeping the viewers’ engaged with every happening in the film. The characters should reflect the danger looming over them. 2005’s crime-thriller, Derailed failed to capitalize on any of the above-mentioned points and thus, ended up disappointing many.
However, the reason why this flick wasn’t completely unwatchable is its well-executed plot twist. The film follows Charles being blackmailed by LaRoche into paying him money so the former’s wife doesn’t find out about his affair with Lucinda (whose real name turns out to be Jane and with whom Charles had developed an intimate relationship over the course of the film). In a surprising turn of events, it is revealed that Lucinda (played by Jennifer Aniston) was working with LaRoche the whole time.
14. The Longest Dream (Vanilla Sky – 2001)
2001’s sci-fi psychological thriller Vanilla Sky proved that having an intriguing plot isn’t enough to save a movie. The flick had a “Big Movie” feeling associated with it mainly due to the all-star cast and mind-gripping story. However, the actual product turned out to be a big mess. Cameron Diaz did full justice to her character but the others couldn’t.
The movie, however, contained a mind-blowing twist that nearly saved the film. It was revealed that the majority of the film was actually a dream. David (Tom Cruise) had actually died 150 years prior to the revelation and was placed in a lucid dream and everything that was going wrong was actually his subconscious interfering with what he actually wanted. He is then given the choice to either wake up or reset the dream and after choosing to wake up, he is told to “open his eyes” after jumping off a building.
13. Connor is the Big Bad (Terminator: Genisys – 2015)
John Connor is one of the main protagonists of the Terminator franchise. The first four films revolve around how he would emerge as the savior of mankind in the battle against machines and his growth as a hero, which Kyle Reese talked about in the first film.
The fifth installment in the franchise or “Genisys” changes everything by making John Connor a Terminator. As big of a plot twist as it could have been, it was given in the trailers and TV spots, when he can be seen getting shot by Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character and then healing too. Apart from this epic twist, the movie just confused the franchise’s fans.
12. Frank NOT! Alexander Pearce (The Tourist – 2010)
A big-budget thriller with a decent plot featuring two of the most talked-about names in Hollywood, Johnny Depp, and Angelina Jolie … what could go wrong? The answer is a messy plot and a lack of chemistry between the lead pair. The huge expectations from Jolie and Depp led the audience to disappointment.
However, the film deserves credit for its intriguing plot and well-executed plot twist. It is revealed that Frank Tupelo was actually Alexander Pearce (when he successfully opened Pearce’s safe) and had been pretending the whole time. It’s fun to revisit the movie and see Depp portraying the broken-hearted tourist Frank when we already know the twist to his character.
11. Satan’s Endless Pursuit (A Devil’s Advocate – 1997)
This is a surprise addition to the list, considering the cult status this film has gained over the years. The actual problem with this movie despite having a unique concept was that it couldn’t quite convey the message it intended to, in an effective way.
However, the movie included a chilling shocker. After the protagonist Kevin Lomax (played by Keanu Reeves) wins a court case by selling his soul, he starts working at a well-established New York firm under John Milton (played by Al Pacino), who is revealed to be Satan with a goal to get Lomax to obey him.
Lomax finally kills himself to avoid following Satan but once again finds himself in the courtroom where it all began, with Milton appearing as a reporter. This was an indication that Satan would never stop going after Lomax unless the former achieved his goal.
10. Jarrod the Alien (Skyline – 2010)
Skyline is a strong example that movies don’t work without characters that the audience likes and can relate to. To top it all, Skyline’s generic action sequences, as well as the lack of a tension-induced environment, make it a film that you wouldn’t like to watch again.
However, its saving grace was the ending plot twist, which saw the protagonist Jarrod turning into an alien upon being abducted by the extra-terrestrial creatures, unlike other victims who had their brains sucked out. Even after turning into an alien, he battles everyone on board simply to protect his girlfriend, signifying that his human self is still in control.
9. Elektra is the Antagonist (The World is Not Enough – 1999)
The World is Not Enough was definitely one of the weaker Bond films. There’s nothing specifically wrong with the movie but you can feel it if you watch it, especially when you compare it with the earlier installments.
However, the film was the first Bond feature to include a lead female antagonist Elektra, who portrayed Bond’s love interest as well. She turned into a villain under the effect of Stockholm syndrome after she was abducted by Renard. To increase the shock value, Bond abruptly shot her in the head, which caught many people off-guard.
8. The Controlling Sphere (Sphere – 1998)
A strong plot is nothing if there’s confusion regarding the implementation. The Sphere is a prime example of that. It had the potential to be an instant classic sci-fi horror flick but came up short due to struggling to decide whether it wanted to be a horror film or go down the philosophical path. This unconventional mix, coupled with boring characters, caused the film to disappoint many.
The brilliant plot twist it contained was that the Sphere in the alien aircraft was showing the investigating scientists their deepest fears. Furthermore, the messages they were receiving from “Jerry” were actually from Dr. Harry (played by Samuel L. Jackson), one of the scientists who was unintentionally communicating with the others while he was asleep. The film had huge potential and could have been a big deal, had the story been executed properly.
7. A Digital Island (Serenity – 2019)
We can all agree here that this year’s neo-noir thriller Serenity has got to be one of the most disappointing films of this decade. What makes us wonder is the fact that Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway decided to become a part of this project.
However, it contains a jaw-dropping twist. McConaughey’s character Baker Dill who runs a charter fishing boat from “Plymouth” island is approached by his ex-girlfriend Karen who offers him a large amount of money to kill his abusive husband.
It is revealed later that nothing is real as Baker had died in Iraq years ago and Plymouth is just a computer game designed by Karen and Baker’s son Patrick. After Baker’s death and the arrival of a step-dad, Patrick created the game to play with the idea of killing his step-dad.
6. It’s All in the Head (Identity – 2003)
A slasher film featuring a killer killing victims stuck at a motel one by one sounds like a generic concept and for the most part, Identity was a typical slasher film. However, the revelation of the twist shoots up the interest level by leaps and bounds.
It is revealed mid-way through the film that all of the fiasco at the motel is transpiring inside Malcolm River’s (a serial killer) head. Rivers suffers from multiple personality disorder and the action happening inside of his head is actually to get rid of the hostile personality. In the end, the killer, in the form of a little kid Timmy, stands tall and takes control of River’s mind for good.
The twist was absolutely brilliant but it ended up being revealed too soon and nothing could top the incredible reveal from that point on.
5. Norman is the Killer (What Lies Beneath – 2000)
20 years ago if you had told me that Harrison Ford would turn out to be a ruthless killer in a movie, I would have laughed at you but this ended up happening in 2000’s supernatural flick What Lies Beneath. The story revolves around Claire investigating her shadowy nature for the murder of a girl, whose ghost Claire often in her new home.
In the final act, it is revealed that the murderer was actually Claire’s husband, portrayed by Harrison Ford, who killed the girl as she was his student and in an affair with him and threatened to reveal the truth to the Dean.
The twist was incredible, but the entire focus on the neighbor during the film, only to throw it all away and make Ford the big bad was a little too extra for the audience’s taste.
4. Preparing Caroline to Become Mama Cecile’s New Vessel (The Skeleton Key – 2005)
Skeleton Key managed to establish a dark and tense environment but failed to deliver when it came to actually inducing a sense of fear in the audience. By the time of the twist, viewers had already lost interest in the story.
However, the twist is worth mentioning. It is revealed that Caroline (played by Kate Hudson), who was tasked to care for the catatonic Benjamin in the same house where two hoodoo-practicing slaves died, was brought there for a much bigger reason.
One of the slaves by the name of Mama Cecile wanted Caroline to become her new host but she couldn’t have taken over her body unless she believed in hoodoo first. So, the main purpose of tasking her to take care of Benjamin was to make her believe in the hoodoo.
3. Delusional Payton (Pandorum – 2009)
Pandora is another example of such a film with an intriguing plot but clichéd implementation and a struggle to set the right tone. However, the plot twist nearly made up for the otherwise disappointing flick but still failed to make it an enjoyable movie.
Payton, who is haunted by Gallo’s tales, comes to find out that Gallo is actually his younger self who went into hypersleep after torturing the ship’s residents. It is then revealed that their ship has already landed on the new planet 900 years earlier.
It was a captivating twist but the struggle to find a balance between making a film horror and sci-fi overshadowed the good parts.
2. Hitman Got Hit With Amnesia (Unknown – 2011)
Although Unknown was a forgettable flick, the twist it was packed with was a treat for the audience. Liam Neeson’s character, after recovering from a car accident, discovers that his identity as Martin Harris and life has been taken over by another man and his wife doesn’t seem to recognize him either.
It is later revealed that Martin Harris was just a cover given to Neeson’s character for a mission and he was actually an Assassin. The accident caused him to believe that he was indeed Harris.
1. Eliminating the Root of the Problem (The Butterfly Effect – 2004)
The Butterfly Effect has been talked about until today. The concept of the movie was decent but the actual flick was overly depressing, making certain scenes difficult to watch. Evan realizes that he can revisit the traumatic moments of his life and rectify them, but ends up making things worse for himself and the people he cares about.
Struggling to make things right, Evan decides to kill himself before even being born and thus travels back in time to when he was in his mother’s womb and strangles himself with the umbilical cord. The twist was incredibly captivating but not captivating enough due to the film’s discomforting nature.
How did you find our list of plot twists that failed to save mediocre movies? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!