Greatest Film Plot Twists
Film Spoilers and
Surprise Endings


Greatest Movie Plot Twists, Spoilers and Surprise Endings
Film Title/Year and Plot Twist-Spoiler-Surprise Ending Description

Disclosure (1994)

The Four E-Mails That DigiCom's 'Passed Over' Production Manager Tom Sanders Received Were Sent From an Unidentified "Friend" - Who Was Revealed at the End to be the Son of His Company's Executive Female Attorney, Stephanie Kaplan. Indirectly, She Had Successfully Urged Tom to Defend Himself From Charges of Sexual Harrassment, and to Play His Own Game Against Aggressor Meredith and "Solve the Problem." Tom Countered More Serious Claims Brought Against Him Regarding Faulty Foreign Manufacturing of His Company's CD-ROM Drive Player, Due to Meredith's Conniving

Director Barry Levinson's R-rated corporate thriller was based upon Michael Crichton's 1993 novel of the same name. The main themes of this mid-1990s mystery-thriller and message movie were sexual harrassment in reverse, and office power-struggle intrigue and malfeasance. Its main tagline combined the two ideas: "Sex is power." A controversy and debate ensued - was this politically-incorrect film an example of the male backlash against feminism? It was the third film in which actor Michael Douglas was threatened by a scary villainess (Fatal Attraction (1987), and Basic Instinct (1992)).

Monday: The main technology company involved in the plot was Seattle-based DigiCom, a leading software firm whose founder and president Bob Garvin (Donald Sutherland) was about to appoint a new VP due to a lucrative $100 million merger with Conley-White. DigiCom was about to launch two products: a new faster stand-alone Arcamax CD-ROM drive player, and a new virtual-reality based database storage system. Two individuals being considered for the promotion in the company were:

  • Tom Sanders (Michael Douglas), the head of manufacturing (the Advanced Products Group or Division), a married family man
  • Meredith Johnson (Demi Moore), an Operations Division executive

When Tom arrived at the office expecting to be promoted, he heard a rumor that he was being "passed over" and that he might be out of a job after the Advanced Products Group was spun-off as a result of the merger. He met Garvin's VP choice from outside his division - Meredith, his own attractive ex-girlfriend from many years earlier. She told Garvin: "Sanders and I go way back. He broke my heart." Garvin had selected her because "the spin-off was Meredith's idea" and it had saved the threatened merger.

In the plot-twisting story, amoral, treacherous and ruthless femme fatale Meredith invited Tom to her office at 7 pm to discuss business, the same day as her new appointment. In the sexy seduction scene (without nudity), she told him as they clinked wine glasses together: "I like all the boys under me to be happy." She reminisced about the hot sex they used to have, including when he took her from behind in the shower. She came up behind him (he was on the phone, thinking he was leaving a message for colleague Mark Lewyn (Dennis Miller)) and proposed: "Let's get down to business" - and forced a kiss upon him ("There, was that so bad?"). She unbuttoned her blouse, and then urged him to touch her breasts and bottom through her clothing. She opened his shirt and suggested that he just lie back so she could take him. She began rubbing his crotch, and although he slightly protested, she continued: "You've got something I want." She unzippered his pants ("Don't stop me, come on...Don't worry, I'm not gonna bite. Let me do whatever I want. You just lie back and let me be the boss") - put his penis in her mouth, and provided him with oral sex.

As he kept resisting, she responded: "Look, nobody has to know. Nobody gets hurt." Becoming aggressive, Tom asked: "Wanna get f--ked, huh? Is that what you want?" He ripped open his own shirt, then forcefully pulled her blouse apart, grabbed her large breasts within her black bra, kneaded them, and buried his face in them. He angrily ripped off her panties and touched her privates, as she urged: "You bad boy. Come on, baby." As he was on the verge of penetrative intercourse, she said: "Come on. You gonna f--k me? You gonna f--k me? Put it in...I want you inside me...Do it! Now, now!" But at the last moment, he vacillated and had a change of heart, while looking at himself in a glass reflection ("Oh God, look at us"). She was frustrated: "You can't just stop! Come on!" He turned her down, pulled himself together and began to leave, while she threatened to get even: "You stick your dick in my mouth and then you get an attack of morality?" She retaliated as she leaned over the stair's railing with her breasts heaving:

"Oh, you son-of-a-bitch. You get back here and finish what you started. Do you hear me? Do you hear me? Get back here and finish what you started or you're f--kin' dead. You hear me? You are F--KING DEAD!"

Tuesday: Rather than pursuing Tom with a sexual harrassment suit, Tom was pressured into leaving the company with a "lateral move" reassignment in Austin, Texas - threatening his career, stock options and family life. Tom counter-argued that Meredith had sexually-harrassed him. Garvin was worried the Meredith incident (a sex scandal) could potentially cause PR and "disclosure" problems for the company and its proposed merger proceedings. Tom had second thoughts about leaving the company after receiving a mysterious email from an unidentified FRIEND:

  • The Seattle Post-Intelligencer. March 8, 1993. Page 3

The page indicated in the email was a newspaper article about a million-dollar case of sexual harrassment ("illegal behavior"), tried by Seattle defense attorney Catherine Alvarez (Roma Maffia). She had defended a female employee who refused to have sex with her supervisor, and was abruptly terminated. He contacted the hard-nosed attorney, who told him: "Sexual harassment is not about sex. It is about power. She has it; you don't." She agreed to file a sexual harrassment suit on Tom's behalf, although warned that the company would continue pressuring him. Then, Tom found that his computer user privileges at Digicom had been reduced to zero, and his files had been cleaned out, making him even more powerless. At home, he confessed to his wife, and then received a second email from the FRIEND. The email hinted to him that he should "Solve the Problem" himself, rather than being told what to do - to avoid giving away the identity of the writer:

  • You know everything you need to know about Meredith Johnson. She is not your concern. Solve the problem.

Wednesday: During a mediation over the issues to resolve the dispute between the two parties, Tom gave a full and true confession about having been pressured into having oral sex - but not intercourse. It was revealed that in the past, Tom and Meredith used to have sex every day, in public places, sodomy, viewing of pornography, and the use of sexual toys (vibrators and other mechanical devices). During Meredith's tearful testimony, she painted Tom as the sexual aggressor, concluding with a statement that she kneed him in the groin to end it. Then Tom received a third email:

  • You're playing her game. Play your game. Solve the problem.

The emails' source was a dead end - they were coming from the locked office of Chemistry Professor Dr. Arthur Friend from the University of Washington - who had been trekking through Nepal for three weeks. But then Tom realized that his wrong number cell-phone call, the night of the seduction, had accidentally recorded the entire sexual incident - not on Mark Lewyn's answering machine, but on John Levin's phone machine. Tom instructed Catherine Alvarez: "No deal, Catherine. We're gonna bury them, all right? Everything is on tape."

Thursday: After the tape was played during a continuation of mediation hearings, Alvarez had a heated argument with the predatory Meredith, who defended her sexual aggressiveness - even though Tom had said "No" 31 times:

Catherine Alvarez: "The point is, you controlled the meeting. You set the time. You ordered the wine. You locked the door. You demanded service and then got angry when he didn't provide it. So you decided to get even, to get rid of him with this trumped-up charge. Ms. Johnson, the only thing you have proven is that a woman in power can be every bit as abusive as a man!"
Meredith Johnson: "You wanna put me on trial here? Let's at least be honest about what it's for! I am a sexually aggressive woman. I like it. Tom knew it, and you can't handle it. It is the same damn thing since the beginning of time. Veil it, hide it, lock it up and throw away the key. We expect a woman to do a man's job, make a man's money, and then walk around with a parasol and lie down for a man to f--k her like it was still a hundred years ago? Well, no thank you!"

Tom's job was reinstated - with $100K for "pain and suffering," plus lawyer's fees and expenses ("total and complete vindication"). Meredith was to be retained through the merger, and then quietly dismissed. But it wasn't over. There was one more attempt to oust Tom and consolidate Meredith's power. He received a fourth email from the same "Friend" - who knew that Tom would be charged with incompetence, and then fired:

  • It's not over. Nothing is what it seems. Solve the problem.

Meredith's dangerously-ambitious tactic to again focus on Tom was to cover up real problems in the company. To reach his inaccessible files, Tom snuck into the 11th floor Four Seasons hotel room suite where the VR system's Corridor was set up for demos for the Conley group. He donned special glasses, and entered the prototype for a virtual reality database (a file-search mechanism) - containing complete records of the company, including Operations in Malaysia. In a revisions file, he found incriminating memos and proof that Meredith was responsible for cost-cutting production changes that compromised quality in the Malaysian plant. While online, an avatar of Meredith confronted him (she was in the system too) - and he watched as she deleted all of the Malaysian files, and conspired to oust him. He would be the scapegoat - set up and blamed for serious quality control production problems in the Malaysian manufacturing of the company's high-speed Arcamax CD-ROM drive players - that she had ordered.

Friday: Armed with backed-up data (faxed to Tom's office from Malaysia), Tom arrived prepared at a Friday morning shareholder meeting with Conley-White executives. He was victorious over Meredith after distributing copies of her memos, to expose her lies and deceptions. When fired by Garvin, she thought of herself as a victim. She blamed male higher-ups for the conspiracy - who punished her when she failed, although Tom gave himself the credit: "Did it ever occur to you, Meredith, that maybe I set you up?" Tom again was passed over as Meredith's replacement (and the company's successor), while Stephanie Kaplan (Rosemary Forsyth), one of the members of DigiCom's upper management, was appointed by Garvin as the company's new vice-president. In her acceptance speech, she appointed Tom as her "right hand" person.

In the conclusion, Tom figured out that Stephanie's son Spencer (David Drew Gallagher), a first-year graduate student and research assistant to Dr. A. Friend, had written the "A Friend" emails from the professor's office. Tom spoke knowingly to Spencer, asking: "You'd have the keys to his office and the password to his computer?" Obviously, Stephanie had told Spencer what to write in the emails, because she couldn't e-mail Tom directly and risk having them traced back to her. In the final scene, Tom received a colorful email from his family: "Daddy, We miss you. A Family."

The Seduction

The First Email

The Second Email

District 9 (2009)

Aliens Christopher and His Son Escape In MotherShip; Wikus Was Transformed Into Alien Prawn, and As The Film Ended Was Identified in District 10

Neill Blomkamp's gritty science-fiction film was part-apartheid allegory, mock documentary and tense action thriller.

It told about the arrival of a large space ship that hovered above Johannesburg, South Africa, and was found to contain sickly prawn-like alien creatures (bi-pedal and taller than humans, with facial tendrils). The extra-terrestrials were segregated in District 9 within the city, a heavily-guarded and militarized slum-internment camp that had existed for 20 years, after which plans by the MNU (Multi-National United) were underway to move the 1.8 million oppressed aliens to a new camp (District 10) over 200 kilometers away, with enforcement provided during the eviction by sadistic mercenary Colonel Koobus Venter (David James).

The operation to peaceably evict the prawns was headed up by bumbling, incompetent, bureaucratic field operative Wikus van de Merwe (Sharlto Copley), who accidentally sprayed himself with black liquid from a canister (a fuel cell) found in the shack of intelligent alien Christopher Johnson (Jason Cope) - he infected himself with a virus, and began a harrowing experience of slowly mutating into one of the aliens (his left hand developed a claw).

When Wikus was apprehended by the MNU and they learned he could operate powerful, non-human weaponry, they were determined to perform experimental surgery upon him and "harvest" everything from his partially-mutated body, and in the process kill him: "This body represents hundreds of millions, maybe billions of dollars worth of biotechnology. There are people out there, governments, corporations, who would kill for this chance." (Wikus also discovered that they had been performing illegal, secret operations on aliens for years, used the aliens as targets, and wanted to commandeer the other-worldly weaponry-technology for profit.)

He resisted and became a fugitive from the nefarious MNU, after they published a falsified news report claiming that Wikus had raped one of the aliens and contracted a disease. He sought refuge in the shack of Christopher Johnson and his young son, and found himself losing his hair, nails, and teeth, and that he liked prawn 'cat food.' Wikus found out that the mysterious liquid in the canister had been gathered over 20 years, and could power a submerged command module shuttle to return to the mother ship hovering dormant over the city, and allow it to be reactivated.

In the film's exciting conclusion, Wikus and Christopher retrieved the canister from MNU, fought off a Nigerian warlord and his gang of armed men within District 9 who wanted Wikus' powers (through animistic cannibalism!), and evaded MNU forces led by Colonel Koobus. Although seriously wounded, beleaguered Wikus remained behind (encased in a massive mechanical metal battle suit) to sacrificially allow Christopher (and his son) to escape in the downed command module and return to the reactivated mother ship (and then leave Earth).

The prawns came to Wikus' rescue and viciously tore off the head of Koobus and ripped him apart as he was about to kill Wikus.

However, the twist was that it would take 3 years for Christopher to journey to his home planet and then return to reverse Wikus' genetic transformation and cure him. As the mother ship departed, questions were pondered:

  • Would Christopher Johnson return?
  • Was he simply escaping, or would he effect a rescue plan for the alien refugees in their new camp, and/or wage war against humanity?

In the film's epilogue, more interviews with various people revealed that Wikus had disappeared - had he been recaptured by MNU or by another government, or by "some shady government agency and is actually being held in captivity"?

Wikus' co-worker had exposed MNU's "illegal genetic research programme," and District 9 was demolished after the alien resettlement operation was completed. Wikus' wife Tania (Vanessa Haywood) discovered a small metal flower on her front door step (similar to ones Wikus used to make) and wondered if her husband was still alive ("My friends say I should just throw it away because it's just a piece of rubbish. And it couldn't possibly come from him. I know it's true").

On a trash heap in District 10 (now with 2.5 million aliens), an alien with a bandaged left hand was seen holding up a flower out of metal - was Wikus still alive?!

D.O.A. (1950)

Bigelow Died, Although He Solved Why He Had Been Lethally Poisoned

This classic noir detective story opened with an unlikely and innovative shocking premise -- the protagonist hero accountant-notary public Frank Bigelow (Edmond O'Brien) was already dead.

He had been "murdered" after having his drink in a San Francisco jazz club doctored by a lethal dose of glow-in-the-dark "luminous toxin" (radiation poisoning by iridium). He entered a police station where he told the captain in charge: "I want to report a murder" - and when asked about who was murdered, he replied: "I was."

The remainder of the film was the investigation of the doomed and dying man into why he was murdered. It was learned that he was killed because he inadvertently and innocently notarized a bill of sale for stolen iridium:

All I did was notarize a bill of sale, but that piece of paper could have proven that Phillips didn't commit suicide - he was murdered; and that's why Halliday poisoned me.

If the bill of sale surfaced, it could discredit an apparent suicide and convict Mrs. Phillips (Lynn Baggett) and her lover Halliday (William Ching) of having actually killed her husband Stanley Phillips (Henry Hart) by pushing him off a balcony to his death:

Mrs. Phillips: "you could have proved there was a bill of sale, that my husband had no reason to commit suicide."

The film ended with Bigelow falling dead to the floor in the police station after solving his own murder case, with the police captain responding to a question about making out a report: "Better make it 'dead on arrival'"

Dogville (2003, Danish)

Fugitive Grace, Running From a Gangster Mob, Was Actually the Daughter of an Apologetic Mob Boss Searching for Her; After Being Taken Advantage Of and Mistreated by the Sadistic Townsfolk That Sheltered Her in the Town of Dogville, An Abused Grace Ordered It Burned To The Ground and All Residents Killed. The Only Survivor Was the Town's Barking Dog Moses

Director Lars von Trier's 3-hour stage-bound drama was composed of nine chapters and a prologue (which introduced the town of Dogville and its residents). It was set in the 1930s and opened in the small Rocky Mountains mining town of Dogville, Colorado (near an abandoned silver mine), with a central thoroughfare named Elm St. The main character was the town's philosopher and self-appointed moralist Thomas Edison, Jr. (Paul Bettany). Suddenly, he heard strange gunshots in the distance, and soon befriended frail yet kind Grace Margaret Mulligan (Nicole Kidman), when alerted to her presence by the sound of the town's barking dog, Moses.

She had fled to the isolated town to escape from mobsters in a black limousine. Tom helped her hide in the mine to avoid detection. The unseen boss in the back seat offered his card to Tom and a "considerable reward" for the location of a "very precious" young girl, who may have entered the town in her confusion. He claimed: "I don't want any harm to come to her."

As a stranger and fugitive needing shelter and in exchange for protection, Grace helped the townsfolk during a two-week trial period, arranged by Tom at a town meeting, although she was first greeted with reluctance and hostility. She was to work in each household one hour per day, doing physical labor (odd jobs and chores), including weeding, lengthy discussions with the town's blind man, looking after children, etc.. As time went on, she was accepted and allowed to stay after two weeks (signified by 15 bell tollings or votes in a second town meeting) - she believed she had found true friendship. She used some of her wages to purchase a series of seven tiny china figurines in the town's shop, and she moved into the town's mill.

Pressure on her increased when her status was changed from "Missing" to "Wanted" - indicated by successive flyers brought by a local policeman (although she couldn't have possibly committed the alleged crimes - some bank robberies on the West Coast). She was pressed and exploited to do more arduous work, and her pay rate was cut. She began to be treated more harshly, exploitatively and abusively by the men and women, especially by Chuck (Stellan Skarsgård) and his wife Vera (Patricia Clarkson). After blackmailing Grace and threatening to turn her in, Chuck raped her. She was also accused of spanking one of Vera's boys, Jason (Miles Purinton), who had provoked her to punish him, and Vera vengefully destroyed all of Grace's seven figurine dolls - when Grace could not stoically hold back her tears.

During a failed escape attempt, Grace was raped (as an additional surcharge for being a "dangerous load") by apple freight truck driver Ben (Željko Ivanek), and then returned to town. He claimed that he had found her hiding in his truck. To prevent her escape again, Grace was further downgraded with an "escape prevention mechanism" - a large collar that she was required to wear around her neck, attached to a heavy iron wheel that she dragged around. Her presence to the vindictive and suspicious townsfolk was signaled by a bell on the collar. And to make matters worse, "most townspeople of the male sex now visited Grace at night to fulfill their sexual needs."

To assuage his own guilt regarding Grace's victimized and degraded treatment, Tom summoned the townsfolk at another meeting to listen to Grace deliver a speech. She would truthfully describe her condition (a "web of misunderstanding and injustice") to them. He urged: "Don't be hateful. Don't be reproving...And from there, it's only one small step to forgiveness." But Grace's words were not received kindly by the defensive and indignant townspeople - Grace's speech was interpreted as lies and accusations, and some urged that the troubled girl should leave town. In the film's conclusion, the gangsters were summoned to the town by Tom (for a "long-awaited visit"), after he had once again been rebuffed by Grace for wanting to have sex with her.

In the back seat of a black Cadillac limousine, Grace was convinced by her regretful and apologetic father, the boss (James Caan), that he was accepting her back as his daughter. They talked about how the evil and cruel town of Dogville and its mistreating, transgressive residents deserved judgment - they should be eliminated. (Grace: "If there's any town this world would be better without, this is it"). For the "sake of humanity" and for her own sake, she became a "conspirator with him and his gang of thugs and felons" to shoot the residents of Dogville and burn down the town. She assented to the wholesale slaughter, specifying:

  • the seven children of Vera and Chuck were to be murdered first, one by one - if Vera could stoically watch and hold back her tears, the killings would stop (Grace added: "I owe her that")

She watched from the limousine as flames roared through the town, and the townsfolk were machine-gunned to death by the gangsters.

  • Grace personally executed Tom - she pointed a revolver to his head and pulled the trigger after telling him: "Goodbye, Tom" - she told her father: "Some things you have to do yourself"

The town's only spared resident was the barking dog Moses - the only one that didn't wrong Grace ("His survival was astonishing, a miracle") - Grace ordered: "Just let him be"

Domino (2005)

The Botched Theft Of Mob Money Was Orchestrated by Williams And His Mistress Lateesha; Domino Was the Sole Survivor of a Massive Shoot-Out and Explosion; Most of The Money Ended Up in Afghanistan; Domino Was Released By the FBI After Intense Questioning

Director Tony Scott's excessively-stylish and experimentally-showy film, subtitled "I Am a Bounty Hunter," was a dramatic and violent action-crime thriller.

The semi-biopic was "sort of" based on the true story of the life of Domino Harvey (Keira Knightley), the real-life daughter of British actor Laurence Harvey (who died when she was 8 years old) and model Paulene Stone ("Sophie Wynn" - played by Jacqueline Bisset), who chose to forego her life as a fashion model.

After moving to Beverly Hills when her mother remarried, she attended college before being quickly expelled and joined the services of "legendary bail bondsman" Claremont Williams III (Delroy Lindo), working as a bounty hunter ('bail recovery agent'). She worked in a team along side:

  • tough ex-con Ed Moseby (Mickey Rourke)
  • angry psychotic Latino Choco (Edgar Ramirez)
  • Afghani driver Alf (Riz Abbasi)

She told them: "I want to have a little fun." Later she admitted: "We may have been dysfunctional, but we worked. We were family."

As a bounty hunter, she accepted an opportunity to tell her story and receive recognition by appearing in a new WB network reality TV show titled Bounty Squad (produced by Mark Heiss (Christopher Walken)) about the trio (although later stated: "It was the beginning of the end").

The hard-to-follow story began with her questioning by the FBI's criminal psychologist Taryn Mills (Lucy Liu) after her arrest - with flashbacks to tell the story - and her involvement in the hijacking and heist of $10 million cash from an armored truck 36 hours earlier. The truck was enroute from LA to Vegas. Domino promised: "I'll tell you everything I know." The money in the truck ostensibly belonged to Drake Bishop (Dabney Coleman) - wealthy owner of the Stratosphere Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, but actually, the money belonged to the Mob and was being laundered ("Bishop's clean reputation was a great cover for laundered cash").

To collect a $300K finder's fee for Williams, Domino (in a trio of bounty hunters working for Williams - who also ran an armored car service as well as a bounty hunter service) had been sent to track down and capture the four thieves, wearing "First Lady" masks during the heist.

The film's twist was that the entire botched theft was actually orchestrated by Williams and his "sassy black" mistress - DMV clerk Lateesha Rodriguez (Mo'Nique) - to pay for an expensive operation (costing $300K) for her terminally-ill granddaughter Mika suffering from a rare blood-disease.

(The "inside job" heist was falsely blamed on Frances and three other college students at Cal West LA - unfortunately two of them were related to a Mafia crime boss - when Frances was targeted as he happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, acquiring counterfeit drivers licenses at the DMV.)

The bounty hunters delivered the four alleged thieves (set up as "Lateesha's patsies") to Needles, CA (where they were intercepted by Bishop's men to be executed). Domino complained to Williams:

You set me up to deliver f--king mafia crime boss children to be executed...(in voice-over) The whole thing became a huge clusterf--k when Lateesha tried to pin it on the Cigliutti kids. Now our only chance for survival was to stay on course and retrieve the money.

The bounty hunters retrieved the stolen money hijacked by armored truck getaway driver Locus Fender and hidden in his mother Edna's trailer in the Nevada desert - the opening sequence of the film seen in flashback. They drove away to deliver the money to Bishop in Vegas in their Bounty Squad Winnebago. $300K of the money was given to Lateesha to fund her baby's operation before a rendezvous with Bishop.

There were a series of misunderstandings (the college kids weren't actually killed), double-crosses, and further involvement by the FBI. A bloody showdown occurred at the top of the Stratosphere Casino between the bounty hunters, Drake Bishop and his men, and the mobsters (wrongly believing that Bishop had killed the college boys). Multiple deaths occurred when the Stratosphere Casino was blown up by explosives set by Alf (he had switched the money bags with explosives) - and Domino was the sole survivor.

Traitorous Alf had also sent the money to Afghanistan to aid revolutionary freedom fighters there. Afghani children opened bundles of US bills and tossed them into the air - corrupt Las Vegas money fluttered down on them. All the incidents of the film reflected Domino's life philosophy - everything was a coin toss, with only a 50-50 chance of survival or death.

In the conclusion of the film, Domino narrated (offscreen):

If you're wondering what's true and what isn't, you can f--k off, because it's none of your goddamn business. I'll never tell you what it all meant...All that matters is that my mission is complete. I saved her. And when she is older, a woman named Domino will tell her that there is only one conclusion to every story - we all fall down.

Donnie Darko (2001)

Donnie Died As a Result of the Jet Engine Crash (Not Because of the End of the World or the Menacing Rabbit Named Frank) - The Story Was An Hallucination of His Last Few Moments; Gretchen Never Died or Even Met Donnie

This mystifying cult film was filled with unusual ideas, including:

  • time-travel backwards through time portals used as gateways between universes
  • wormhole theories, and parallel universes
  • a conservative self-help guru warning about fear who secretly had a child pornography dungeon
  • a PTA book-banning protest
  • a 6 foot-tall rabbit named Frank (James Duval) who predicted doomsday in 28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes and 12 seconds
  • an elderly/senile character named Grandma Death (or Roberta Sparrow) (Patience Cleveland) who wrote a book titled "The Philosophy of Time Travel"
  • liquid spears or tubes of fluid light emanating from people's chests

The main character was a disturbed teenager with paranoid schizophrenia named Donnie Darko (Jake Gyllenhall). The film's premise was voiced by the 'new-girl-in-town' Gretchen Ross (Jena Malone) - Donnie's girlfriend, who told him: "What if you could go back in time, and take all those hours of pain and darkness and replace them with something better?" In an earlier part of the film, on October 2, 1988, Donnie was saved from death when a detached jet engine crashed into his second-story bedroom while he was out sleep-walking and called by Frank onto a golf course.

Midway through the film while on a date with Gretchen at a Halloween Frightfest showing of "The Evil Dead," Donnie saw the rabbit Frank remove his mask - revealing a teenager with a bloody right-eye wound (a foreshadowing).

At the end of the film as Donnie and his sister Elizabeth (Maggie Gyllenhaal) were holding a celebratory Halloween party at their parents' house, Gretchen was accidentally run over outside Grandma Death's house and killed by a red car driven by Elizabeth's boyfriend Frank (James Duval) - wearing the rabbit costume. Angered, Donnie shot Frank in the eye and killed him, using his father's gun, and then carried Gretchen's body home. Above town, Donnie saw a time tunnel portal forming in the sky -- and according to the time travel theory, the plane's vessel (his mother's flight returning from Los Angeles from a "Star Search" competition with his dancer/sister Samantha (Daveigh Chase)) enabled Donnie to will the Earth to reverse itself from October 30 to October 2nd to change the course of history and tie two universes together - and save Gretchen from death (and Frank also).

Donnie also revealed the contents of a letter written to Grandma Death:

Dear Roberta Sparrow, I have reached the end of your book and there are so many things that I need to ask you. Sometimes I'm afraid of what you might tell me. Sometimes I'm afraid that you'll tell me that this is not a work of fiction. I can only hope that the answers will come to me in my sleep. I hope that when the world comes to an end, I can breathe a sigh of relief, because there will be so much to look forward to.

The plane's jet engine crashed into the Darko house - a second time - but this time, Donnie was in his bedroom sleeping and perished in the disaster. The plane engine emerged from a time portal.

In the final scene the next day, Gretchen (who hasn't died) rode her bike by Donnie's house and waved to his distraught mother Rose (Mary McDonnell). The film's last line was from a young boy named David asking Gretchen whether she knew Donnie or not: "Did you know him?" with her reply: "No."

Don't Look Now (1973)

The Mysterious Figure in a Red Raincoat Was A Murderess Dwarf in Venice, Not The Ghost of Baxter's Daughter - She Slashed Baxter's Neck and He Bled to Death

Although foreshadowed by earlier events, it was still a shocking death scene in the film's conclusion.

Grieving, haunted art restoration expert John Baxter (Donald Sutherland) sighted an elusive small figure in a bright red hooded coat in a dark Venice alleyway - thinking it was his recently-drowned blonde daughter Christine (Sharon Williams) brought back to life and pursued by a serial killer, he followed and was confronted by what turned out to be his nemesis.

He ascended a swirling staircase, assuredly telling the figure with its back to him: "I'm coming. It's okay. It's okay. I'm a friend. I won't hurt you. Come on." It wasn't his daughter - but a murderous dwarf (Adelina Poerio) - the one pictured sitting in the pew in the slide in the film's opening - who turned around, withdrew a long sharp knife from her right coat pocket, and deftly sliced his throat with one quick swing.

He fell onto the stone floor and bled to death - punctuated by the peals of bells, swirling camera angles, and quick images from earlier in the film. John's funeral at a Venetian canal-side church ended the film.

Dr. Strangelove, Or: (1964)

Major Kong Rode The H-Bomb To Nuclear Detonation, Triggering the Doomsday Machine, To Dr. Strangelove's Delight

In the conclusion of Kubrick's apocalyptic dark comedy, mad German scientist Dr. Strangelove (Peter Sellers) became ecstatic over the total annihilation of the Earth and his 100 Year Plan (including his mine-shaft proposal that suggested having 10 fertile women for every male survivor), as the Doomsday Machine was triggered.

Strangelove "resurrected" himself, miraculously regaining his ability to walk when his mechanical, robot-like body rose out of his wheelchair, and he cried exultantly in the War Room: "Sir! I have a plan. Heh! (He realized he was standing up amidst everyone) Mein Fuehrer, I can walk!"

A climactic chorus of H-bomb mushroom clouds spread as multiple explosions detonated around the world, annihilating and causing oblivion by bringing radioactive fallout to millions of people. The popular, comforting WW II tune We'll Meet Again Some Sunny Day played in incongruous juxtaposition.

The Double (2011)

There Were Two "Doubles": Retired CIA Agent Paul Shepherdson Was Super-Assassin Cassius, and His Partner Ben Was Also a Russian Spy, With Orders to Kill Cassius; However, In the End, Both Pretended That Another Russian Hit-Man Bozlovski Was Cassius

Director/writer Michael Brandt's predictable political spy thriller with a Cold War theme featured the tagline: Keep Your Enemies Close. It had some similarities to the early twisting thriller No Way Out (1987) with Kevin Costner.

The espionage film opened with the assassination of US Senator Dennis Darden (Ed Kelly) (R, Kansas) in an alley behind a Washington DC warehouse by an unknown assassin who slit his throat with a metal-wire garrote pulled from his wristwatch - a trademarked murder. CIA director Tom Highland (Martin Sheen) called upon retired CIA operative Paul Shepherdson (Richard Gere) to reluctantly investigate the inexplicable murder (although Darden had numerous business interests inside Russia).

The killing was possibly committed by former Soviet operative and elusive double-agent assassin, code-named Cassius. Shepherdson had spent 20 years tracking the notorious Cassius and eliminating members of his Cassius Seven group, a vicious hit squad code-named after the Roman senators who killed Julius Caesar. But Shepherdson had never located the man himself who was presumed to be dead. [Note: It was discovered later in the film that Cassius was seeking revenge after one of the Cassius Seven group had killed his wife and child.]

Shepherdson was 'odd-coupled' or paired with fresh-faced, eager, obsessive young rookie FBI agent Ben Geary (Topher Grace), who suspected that international Russian spy Cassius had retired in the US, resurfaced and committed the killing. The educated, hotshot recruited agent had written his Harvard Master's thesis on Cassius and Shepherdson's tracking of him.

Then, the plot's twist was revealed fairly early on at about the 30 minute mark - Paul was super-assassin Cassius. [The film's trailer gave away this important plot point and presented almost an entire summary of the film.] He divulged that he was the "double" during his killing (with his trademark wristwatch-garotte) of Cassius' thuggish protege Brutus (Stephen Moyer), aka Igor Ivanovich Kozak, who had been incarcerated in Brinkerman Penitentiary and was in the process of escaping during treatment at a hospital.

Meanwhile, both Paul and Ben pursued Russian KGB terrorist and hit-man murderer Johann Bozlovski (Tamer Hassan), one of the last remaining Cassius Seven. He had entered illegally into the US by being smuggled in through Mexico (in the film's opening). He was identified as the assassin who had killed Shepherdson's wife and child in Geneva in 1988. During a game of cat and mouse for the remainder of the film, Ben began his own separate investigation and strongly suspected that Paul was Cassius ("the entire time, he's been hunting himself"), especially after realizing that Shepherdson had returned to the scene of many of his crimes (throat-slit killings) over the years.

As Ben got closer to his target, Paul tried to warn Ben's pretty wife Natalie (Odette Yustman/Annable) to urge her husband to drop the case: "He's getting very close to a dangerous man...He's gonna die, Natalie!...(Cassius) doesn't give a damn about you, about your family. He will kill your husband like snapping his fingers."

A second twist (or double-cross) was then presented about a second 'double' - Ben was a Russian spy with orders to eliminate Cassius. Shepherdson discovered that Ben had received his instructions through a coded crossword puzzle with Russian words, translated: "Cassius, Eliminated, Exit." Shepherdson then accused Ben of equal duplicity: "You've been a double your whole life."

Ben's intent, for his bosses back in Moscow, was to expose Shepherdson as Cassius after killing him. He divulged his specific orders: "My orders are to kill you and return to Moscow" - without his family. His mission was to "make the landscape safe for our new arrivals." He had first killed Senator Darden (by using Cassius' technique) to flush Shepherdson out of retirement in order to complete his task. But then Ben, in a striking turnabout, decided with Shepherdson to pretend that Bozlovski was Cassius.

The two worked together to corner Bozlovski in a warehouse, where a mortally-wounded Shepherdson (shot by Bozlovski) vengefully slit Bozlovski's throat with his garrote-watch, and died after telling Ben: "Go home." In his report to CIA director Highland, Ben claimed that Bozlovski was Cassius, by showing him Cassius' watch on Bozlovski's wrist. By doing so, he kept Paul's reputation intact and recognized his dying heroism. As the film ended with another gimmicky last-second surprise, Highland asked the stunned Ben if he would like to work for the CIA: "Tell me something. Would you ever consider working for us?...Think about it."

Double Indemnity (1944)

Insurance Salesman Neff's Plan to Murder Duplicitous Phyllis' Husband, and Abscond with "Double Indemnity" Insurance Payoff Went Awry - He Murdered Co-Conspirator Phyllis, Then Lay Dying During His Confession (The Film's Flashbacked Story)

One of the greatest film noirs of all time was Paramount's and director Billy Wilder's definitive film, based upon James M. Cain's novel. The flashbacked film told of a sizzling relationship that developed between two murderous conspirators:

  • lustful, voyeuristic, and gullible insurance salesman Walter Neff (Fred MacMurray)
  • blonde LA housewife Phyllis Dietrichson (Barbara Stanwyck)

Phyllis described the suffocating relationship she had in her marriage. "Crazy" about each other, she persuaded Neff to join her in scheming to kill her husband and help her make it look like an accident - to collect on her husband's accident insurance policy.

The film ended with a final confrontation between the two plotters. A gunshot rang out, and Walter staggered at her window as he turned and was hit by the bullet in the shoulder. He dared her to finish the job with another shot, but she hesitated and was unable to kill him for some reason (because of her love for him, or because of her conscience?). She admitted to being "rotten to the heart" after shooting him, but he didn't "buy" her act.

She asked him to hold her close - and when she surrendered in his arms, she drew slightly back in surprise and fear, realizing that it was her final moment when she sensed the barrel of his gun against her chest.
Cold-heartedly, he told her: "Good-bye baby." Walter grimly shot her twice at point-blank range - during their erotic embrace.

The film returned to the present (4:30 am) in Neff's office, where he was recording his dying confession, and where he admitted his guilt to insurance colleague Barton Keyes (Edward G. Robinson). The two colleagues concluded their 'game' of concealment and detection:

Walter: You know why you couldn't figure this one, Keyes? I'll tell ya. 'Cause the guy you were looking for was too close, right across the desk from you.
Keyes: Closer than that, Walter.
Walter: (with his customary reply) I love you, too.

Walter struggled to light a crumpled cigarette he had pulled out of his pocket. Keyes identified with the criminal - he assisted Walter by ritualistically lighting his cigarette for him. [In the film's opening, Walter had confessed his failed objective with his partner-in-crime Phyllis: "Yes, I killed him. I killed him for money and for a woman. I didn't get the money and I didn't get the woman. Pretty, isn't it?"]

Dream House (2011)

The Questionable Sanity of Peter Ward Was Due to The Multiple Homicide of His Entire Family. After Being Falsely Accused of the Crime But Released, He Had Adopted a New Identity as Will Atenton; He Finally Relived a Similar Murder Scene of His Neighbor Ann a Second Time, Took Revenge on the Killers, and Restored His Life. His Best-Selling Book Told the Story of "Dream House"

This confusing and disjointed psychological horror-thriller from director Jim Sheridan had a troubled production history. The overwrought, misfiring film told of the psychological distress and healing of a troubled man whose family was involved in a multiple homicide. One point of contention was that the film's official trailer gave away one of the most important plot points and twists. The film had elements borrowed from The Sixth Sense and The Others (ghosts), The Shining (the two girls, the book writing), The Amityville Horror (the strange house), and Shutter Island (confused-identity).

These are the basic twists, in summary:

  • At the beginning of the film, successful NY publishing house editor Will Atenton (Daniel Craig) believed he was a writer with a family - but his family had actually been murdered in an unsolved multiple homicide in their suburban Connecticut 'dream house" in the town of New Ashford. The trauma had left him out of touch with reality and delusional. He was reliving, reimagining, or hallucinating (in flashback) a time when his family was alive: his wife Libby Atenton (or Elizabeth Ward) (Rachel Weisz) and two young daughters, five year-old Dee Dee (or Katherine/Katie Ward) (Claire Astin Geare) and seven year-old Trish (or Beatrice Ward) (Taylor Geare).
  • Will was actually Peter Ward - revealed after the first 40 minutes of the film (and spoiled in the film's official HD trailer). He was in denial and grief-stricken about the 'slaughter' of the Ward family exactly five years earlier, so much so that he had created a new identity for himself. Using the codes on his wrist band, he had invented a new name: "Will Atenton" [W1-1L 8 - 10 - 10].
  • Everybody thought the surviving Peter/Will was psychotic and had murdered his family, but he had been falsely accused of an attempted murder/suicide (although there wasn't enough "conclusive evidence" to prosecute and hold him). He was living in the abandoned, graffiti-painted, run-down home where the murders had occurred, after being released from Greenway Psychiatric Hospital (a five-year stint) to a residential treatment program at a halfway house named Harkness House.
  • To protect some of his remaining sanity, Peter was experiencing delusions (projections or ghosts) of his family in the house, as neighbor Ann Patterson (Naomi Watts) recognized: "You really see them." Peter: "They're there. Look, look!"
  • The movie was a journey through his confused and distressed mind as he created an alternate reality (eventually becoming his new book's contents). He at first told Libby: "If I tell you about it, then, well, then it all disappears, doesn't it? But I can see the characters, Libby, I can." And he also told psychiatrist Dr. Fran Greeley (Jane Alexander): "I'm not writing a book. I'm living in a fantasy and walking around my house, talking to the walls."
  • The film revealed that the killers five years earlier were his across-the-street neighbor's angry and vengeful husband, Jack Patterson (Martin Csokas) and his hired hitman Boyce (Elias Koteas). Jack was divorcing his blond-haired wife Ann Patterson, and was angry that she would get everything, including custody of their teenaged daughter Chloe (Rachel G. Fox). Boyce messed up the proposed hit-murder when he entered the wrong house - a case of mistaken identity. Will/Peter's two daughters and Libby were shot during a struggle, and Libby accidentally shot Will/Peter in the head, allowing Boyce to escape after Libby died. It looked like Peter, left injured at the scene, had committed the crime.
  • In a last vindicating confrontation with Jack and Boyce who were again attempting to kill Ann, Jack first took revenge on Boyce by shooting him in the stomach ("You've tormented me for five goddamn years. Child killer"). The ghost of Peter's wife helped him to fight back against Jack and save Ann. Jack was going to make it look like Will/Peter killed Ann, and then set the house on fire after pouring gasoline everywhere. Peter saved Ann by carrying her out of the flame-engulfed house, while Jack (and a wounded Boyce) were caught inside and burned to death.
  • Peter had one last moment with his wife Libby inside the burning house. After she told him that he must go and leave them, he kissed his daughters goodbye. Libby told him of her abiding love ("I love you. I'll always be with you...But you know that"). Before rushing out, Peter retrieved his journal that he had hidden earlier under one of the wooden stair-steps.
  • At the end of the film, an undisclosed amount of time later, Peter was living back in New York City. His novel "Dream House" based on the murders (the movie's plot) was a best-selling book (displayed in a bookshop window). It was inferred that Peter had started to come to grips with his family's death and was ready to move on and live his life again.

The above appears to be the most straight-forward explanation, although some critics have written that the entire movie was the fictional, fantasy creation within the mind of writer Peter Ward - and everything never happened. Others have speculated that Peter Ward (Will Atenton) actually killed his family - and the film's plot was a journey through his twisted mind as he invented an alternate reality to shield himself from the awful truth.

Dream Lover (1994)

Lying and Scheming Lena Married Ray To Acquire His Money; Confined to a Mental Institution, Ray Conspired with Larry's Wife Elaine to Find Insane Revenge - He Strangled Lena

Upon meeting the beautiful and sensual Lena Mathers (Madchen Amick), successful architect and recent divorcee Ray Reardon (James Spader) was spellbound by her beauty after sex and dream dates and soon married her after a storybook romance. However, soon afterwards, his mysterious wife's past became questionable and suspicious - and he realized that he had been duped by the femme fatale. She had deliberately gotten close to him to hastily marry him and acquire his money.

The increasingly-paranoid and distrustful Ray was soon accusing her of being a perpetual and deceitful liar ("If the things you tell me aren't true, then what is true?") regarding her identity, her friends, the bruises on her leg, her afternoon disappearances to conduct an affair with friend Larry (Frederic Lehne), and her past. He accused her of stealing his house, his children, and of being a psychopath.

After he slapped her, she was able to have him committed in an institution - where he faked insanity and sedation, while he was scheming with Larry's wife Elaine (Bess Armstrong) to find revenge.

In the film's twist ending, he strangled Lena while she visited him at the institution, claiming that since he had been declared insane, he couldn't be held accountable for her death:

There are no consequences - that's the flaw in your plan. I'm crazy. You've driven me crazy...Well, crazy people aren't responsible. Crazy people aren't legally responsible. I'm not guilty by reason of insanity. In a year, I'll be sane again and they'll have to let me out.

Dressed to Kill (1980)

Psychiatrist Dr. Elliott Was Both a Trans-Sexual ("Bobbi") and The Homicidal Murderer of Kate

In this film's early horrific murder sequence in Brian DePalma's ripoff/homage of Psycho (1960), sexually-unfulfilled Kate Miller (Angie Dickinson) was slashed to death in the enclosed space of an elevator of a high-rise NYC apartment building (where she has just had adulterous sex and forgotten her wedding ring and panties, and probably contracted VD). She was presumably murdered by a mysterious black-coated woman wielding a sharp razor (seen in the elevator's convex mirror) and wearing sunglasses.

Later, the killer also threatened to kill blonde prostitute Liz Blake (Nancy Allen) - a witness to Kate's murder and a prime suspect. During a session with Kate's trans-sexual psychologist Dr. Robert Elliott (Michael Caine), Kate told him: "I like to turn men on. I must do a pretty good job, because they pay me alot." She began seducing him, telling him that she often made sex to men that aroused her, without accepting money: "A mature, doctorly type, like you." She boldly proposed: "How about some sexual assistance? Do you wanna f--k me?" She admitted f--king a lot of married doctors in her time, countering his resistance. She removed her coat "and the rest too," showing off black lingerie, asserting why she did it: "Because of the size of that cock in your pants" - and she found herself in a dangerous situation after arousing him - because of his split-personality.

It was revealed that the homicidal murderer with a split personality was Dr. Elliott whose other trans-gendered persona (representing his female side) was an unhinged patient named "Bobbi" - he literally was 'dressed to kill' as murderously-jealous "Bobbi" by wearing a blonde wig and dark glasses for his brutal killings.

The film ended with another nightmarish shower sequence in which Liz dreamed that the insane and vengeful doctor had escaped from a mental hospital after strangling a nurse, and wore the nurse's shoes as disguise. He killed her with a sharp razor blade after she had stepped out of a shower -- similar to a violent rape/sex fantasy scene in the film's opening shower scene - however, Liz woke up screaming (and holding her neck) to end the film.

The Concluding Shower Scene

Driving Miss Daisy (1989)

Daisy Became Mentally Unstable and Feeble, and Was Committed to a Nursing Home, Where She Still Maintained a Deep Friendship with her Black Chauffeur

Director Bruce Beresford's Best Picture-winning drama told of the long-time devotion of dedicated black ex-chauffeur Hoke Colburn (Oscar-nominated Morgan Freeman) for stubborn Jewish ex-schoolteacher Daisy Werthan (Oscar-winning Jessica Tandy), living as a widow in Atlanta, Georgia.

By film's end, they had developed a deepening friendship. In one of the last scenes, a mentally-dislocated Daisy told Hoke: "'re my best, really, you are," and then took his hand in hers. After being placed in a nursing home, during a Thanksgiving scene, an enfeebled 97 year-old Daisy was spoon-fed her Thanksgiving pumpkin pie by Hoke.

Greatest Movie Plot Twists, Spoilers and Surprise Endings

(alphabetical by film title)
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M1 | M2 | M3 | M4 | M5 | N | O | P1 | P2 | Q-R1 | R2 | S1 | S2 | S3 | S4 | S5 | S6 | T1 | T2 | T3 | U-V | W1 | W2 | W3 | X-Z

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