Greatest Film Plot Twists
Film Spoilers and
Surprise Endings


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

The Fifth Element (1997, Fr.)

Leeloo Was the Actual "Fifth Element" Who Was Essential for the Survival of Humanity - To Protect It From the Destructive Arrival of the Great Evil

Writer/director Luc Besson's science-fiction techno-thriller epic, set in a futuristic 23rd century NYC (2263 AD), was noted for its exceptional sets, visual effects and costume designs, and its basic plot-line of good vs. evil.

The film posited the idea that a Great Evil (a huge ball of molten lava and fire) arrived approximately every 5,000 years, threatening to destroy all of humanity. The only weapon to defeat the Great Evil consisted of:

  • four mystical stones representing the classical elements (Earth, Wind, Fire, and Water)
  • a "Fifth Element" in the form of an other-worldly humanoid, positioned in the center of the elements

The "Fifth Element" had the ability to combine the power of the other four elements into a "Divine Light" that could stop the Great Evil. The only surviving portion of the human "Fifth Element " was a severed hand - it was used in a memorable regeneration or body reconstruction scene in a NY laboratory, to resurrect a Perfect Being - a beautiful nude woman with orange hair - an extra-terrestrial female named Leeloo (Milla Jovovich).

Leeloo was teamed up with cab-driver and former soldier Major Korben Dallas (Bruce Willis) after literally diving off the multi-story Manhattan building into his vehicle. She was the humanoid embodiment of love, a Perfect Being who was the only one who could stop the impending arrival of the Great Evil from ultimately destroying Earth. In a race against time, Dallas and Leeloo joined forces to combat the evil, apocalyptic forces of industrialist Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg (Gary Oldman) and his mercenaries, whose enlisted goal was to trigger the disaster.

Leeloo's and Dallas' main mission was to recover the four elements, and together with Leeloo ("the Fifth Element") defeat the Great Evil before it struck Earth. Dallas confessed his love for Leeloo and kissed her (showing her their love was worth saving), to convince her to release the power of the stones and cause the Divine Light to destroy the approaching molten mass of Great Evil in the Earth's atmosphere (only 62 miles from impact).

In the film's final scene, when the Federation President Lindberg (Tom Lister, Jr.) arrived to congratulate Dallas and Leeloo for saving Earth, he had to wait for them to finish making love in a healing tank.

Fight Club (1999)

Tyler Durden Wasn't Real; Tyler and the "Narrator" Were the Same Person; Tyler Was Part of the "Narrator's" Split Personality, Who Took Over When the "Narrator" Slept

An unnamed "Narrator" (Edward Norton), a bored, self-help addicted, and disillusioned corporate worker, found excitement (and a cure for his insomnia) in the twilight world of a macho "Fight Club" that featured bare-knuckle boxing. He enjoyed pretending to be a victim.

There in the "Fight Club" support group, he met violent yet charismatic rebel and soap salesman named Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt), who soon turned his life upside down.

During the explosive finale as terrorist violence escalated through activities called "Project Mayhem," Tyler threatened to blow up a dozen buildings of various major credit card companies and couldn't be subdued by the "Narrator".

By the film's ending (told in flashback), it was revealed that Tyler Durden was actually one side of the split personality-psyche of the "Narrator's" own imagination. This was a classic plot twist device - of an "unreliable narrator."

The only way the "Narrator" could destroy, stop or kill "Durden" in his mind was by shooting himself in the jaw/face. He fired a gun through his head - to stop the mental projections of Tyler Durden.

The "Narrator" barely survived his own bloody and painful 'enlightenment' as he witnessed the destruction of various skyscrapers with girlfriend Marla Singer (Helena Bonham Carter) at his side. He told her: "You met me at a very strange time in my life."

(John Carpenter's) The Fog (1980)

A Northern California Fishing Town, Built After The Conspiratorial Sinking of the Leper Ship Elizabeth Dane 100 Years Earlier, Was The Target of Revenge by a Killer Fog Containing Six Zombie-Like Seamen Ghosts From the Ship. The Grand-Son of One of the Original Conspirators, Father Robert Malone, Was the Last of Six to Die in the Town - Beheaded in the Final Scene

Writer/director John Carpenter's next film, following his breakout hit Halloween (1978), was this studio-backed, low-budget horror film about a deadly fog in a Northern California coastal town. Its tagline provided the summary: "What you can't see won't hurt you... it'll kill you!" (An inferior remake of the film, a teen horror film with an unusual plot twist, was released 25 years later, The Fog (2005) directed by Rupert Wainwright.)

The under-rated film opened with three ominous foreshadowings:

  • an Edgar Allan Poe quote - the final two lines of the poem: "A Dream Within a Dream": "Is All That We See or Seem But a Dream Within a Dream?"
  • just before midnight, resident captain fisherman, Mr. Machen (John Houseman) told a 2 minute, 25 second ghost-story around a beach campfire to spellbound youngsters; he spoke about the sinking of a clipper ship in the fog, and a group of restless, vengeful sea mariners at the bottom of the sea near Spivey Point
  • hard-drinking local priest Father Robert Malone (Hal Holbrook) found the hidden journal-diary (dated 1880) of his grandfather Father Patrick Malone (the town's priest) when a stone brick unexpectedly fell from the wall in his church office; the last entry was dated: "April 30: Midnight 'Til One Belongs to the Dead. Good Lord Deliver Us."

The history of the town from 100 years earlier was partially revealed in the ghost-story and later when Malone read aloud from the journal. A clipper ship, the Elizabeth Dane, was owned by Blake (Rob Bottin) - "a rich man with a cursed condition." He wanted to relocate with his comrades from Tanzier, an island leper colony, and set up a leper colony-town for refuge on the California coast near Antonio Bay. From midnight to one-o'clock on April 21, 1880, the six founders of Antonio Bay planned the death of Blake and the theft of his gold (for the building of the church and the creation of the township settlement). Blake paid them gold in exchange for permission to settle there. The founders - all greedy and intolerant conspirators (including Malone's grandfather: "an accomplice to murder"), lit a false and deceptive fire during a foggy night that deliberately lured and misguided Blake's ship into treacherous rocks to sink at Spivey Point. All on board expired.

The small fishing town of Antonio Bay was coming up on its 100th year anniversary, to be celebrated on April 21, 1980 - the first full day of the film's plot. Commentary was provided by the omnipresent husky voice of local KAB 1340 radio station DJ, single mother Stevie Wayne (Adrienne Barbeau in her screen debut) on the airwaves, broadcasting from the top of the Spivey Point lighthouse. The evening's festivities were being planned by Kathy Williams (Janet Leigh) and her sarcastically-annoying aide Sandy Fadel (Nancy Loomis) at the outdoor park/campground.

In the glowing fog (moving in a direction against the wind, and toward the town), the zombies of Blake and his crew had returned to vengefully kill six local residents - symbolic of six who had perished. Eerie signs of a threatening presence occurred, beginning at midnight on April 21st - "the witching hour." Father Malone sensed that the town was cursed, and the centennial celebration was actually "a travesty - we're honoring murderers":

  • pay phones rang, glass broke, the ground trembled, gas station lights illuminated, a gasoline pump nozzle fell to the ground and leaked gas, car headlights came on and alarms sounded, TV sets turned themselves on, and dogs barked; the windows of the truck of town resident Nick Castle (Tom Atkins) blew out and his radio malfunctioned, shortly after picking up transient hitchhiker Elizabeth Solley (Jamie Lee Curtis)
  • a shadowy figure with a hook appeared at Nick's door (where he was bedding down young Elizabeth) at about 1 am
  • during the day, Stevie's young son Andy (Ty Mitchell) discovered a gold doubloon on the beach that turned into a broken wooden plank or piece of driftwood, with the word "DANE" on it - later, it seeped water and suddenly came to life with the words: "6 Must Die" before exploding into flames before reverting to normal; on a shorted-out cassette tape recorder/player, Blake's voice vowed revenge: "Something that one lives with like an albatross around the neck. No, more like a millstone. A plumbing stone, by God. Damn them all"

Five deaths were accompanied by the rolling-in of a dense and deadly fog:

  • three local fishermen, Al Williams (John Goff), Tommy Wallace (George 'Buck' Flower), and Dick Baxter (James Canning) were on their 30' sea trawler, the Sea Grass; after they were enveloped by a cold fog bank and their gauges with glass covers were broken, the trio was attacked (and gruesomely murdered) by a ragged crew with knives, hooks and cutlasses from a shadowy ship. (Later, young Baxter's decomposed corpse with gouged-out eyes, the only body found, appeared to have mysteriously drowned; he briefly became reanimated in coroner Dr. Phibes' (Darwin Joston) office, and scratched the number "3" into the floor with a scalpel) - the third death
  • with the loss of electrical power and temperatures dropping, local weatherman Dan O'Bannon (Charles Cyphers) was impaled through the throat with a fishing hook by a ghost-zombie; afterwards, telephone lines snapped and the power station shut down as the fog covered the area
  • Stevie's babysitter, Mrs. Kobritz (Regina Waldon) was grabbed from behind and slaughtered; Andy was saved by Nick, although in the subsequent nail-biting chase sequence in Nick's truck, Elizabeth became stuck in the mud

In the climactic finale, a group of six main characters sought refuge in the church, where Father Malone sensed he was doomed to be the sixth to die. Mrs. Williams and Malone read from his grandfather's journal, and learned that 100 years earlier, grandfather Father Patrick Malone had melted down the stolen gold into a golden cross:

"Were it possible to raise the dead, I would return Blake's fortune to him intact, save the money spent on these walls that hide it. My fellow conspirators believe that the confiscated fortune has been stolen from them when, in fact, I am the thief and God's temple is the tomb of gold. I am the thief and God's temple is the tomb..."

At the same time, Stevie was pursued across the roof of the lighthouse by ghostly sea zombies in the fog, while a massive golden cross was found hidden in the church wall. With the cross in his arms, Father Malone confronted the ghosts, led by Blake, in the main chapel and attempted to offer himself as a sacrifice:

"Blake, I have your gold. Blake? This is your gold, Blake. My grandfather stole it from you. I'm the one who must answer for it. I'm the sixth conspirator. I'm Father Malone. Take me."

Blake's ghost grabbed the glowing crucifix-cross, but then the zombified crew, fog, and cross abruptly vanished everywhere - at the church and at the lighthouse. Stevie broadcast a warning to listeners: "I don't know what happened to Antonio Bay tonight. Something came out of the fog and tried to destroy us. In one moment, it vanished. But if this has been anything but a nightmare, and if we don't wake up to find ourselves safe in our beds, it could come again. To the ships at sea who can hear my voice, look across the water into the darkness. Look for the fog." [The last four words paid homage to a similar line in The Thing From Another World (1951): "Watch the skies, everywhere! Keep looking. Keep watching the skies!"]

Later that night, Father Malone asked himself: "Why not six, Blake? Why not me?" Blake and his crew suddenly reappeared in the chapel, inevitably returning to claim the town's sixth casualty. Father Malone was decapitated with one swing of Blake's cutlass, as the film went to black - before the credits.

The Forgotten (2004)

The 'Forgotten' Children Were Abducted By Aliens, Who Were Studying the Power of Maternal Love - It Was A Failed Experiment; The Children Were Reunited With Their Parents!

The film began with a grieving Brooklyn mother - a free-lance book editor named Telly Paretta (Julianne Moore) who was receiving therapy for her traumatic loss over 14 months earlier of her 9 year-old son Sam (Christopher Kovaleski), due to a plane crash. She had saved a scrapbook and other mementos until she noticed signs that her evidence of Sam's existence was slowly evaporating and disappearing (there were erased videotapes, and missing and doctored pictures).

Then, she was being told by her husband and others, including psychiatrist Dr. Jack Munce (Gary Sinise), that Sam hadn't really existed and she should forget Sam entirely. She was diagnosed as suffering from paramnesia - her doctor told her that she never had a son (following a miscarriage), that she had "memory slips," and that she had "invented memories" of Sam. The fact that the evidence was disappearing, according to her husband Jim (Anthony Edwards), meant that she was coming back to reality, but she began to fear that the loss of her son was part of an unusual conspiracy.

[The film also tried to insert doubt about her sanity with her mental lapses about a cup of coffee, the location of her parked red Volvo, and the disappearance of newspaper articles about the plane crash.]

She finally convinced her neighbor, alcoholic ex-hockey player Ash Correll (Dominic West), after ripping wallpaper from one of his bedroom walls to uncover a daughter's drawings, that he also had 'forgotten' a missing daughter named Lauren (Kathryn Faughnan) - one of Sam's playmates, who was on the same plane flight with him to camp. Although he turned her into police at first, Ash then 'remembered' - and they both went on a hunt to find the truth - and their children ("Now how could two people remember two different children if they never existed?").

After the first half of the film - an emotional and despairing look at maternal suffering, grief, deception and sanity, the film became a sci-fi alien abduction flick (similar to The X-Files). Pursued by agents of NSA and by the police, and by a "Friendly Man" (Linus Roache) (who was invulnerable to harm and had frightening powers), they theorized that their children had been abducted. They kept asking about why they were both told: "There are no children. Forget the children." And why were the children taken? And how could they get them back?

They coerced captured NSA agent Al Petalis (Lee Tergesen) to admit some sort of 'cooperation' - for survival's sake and for all of mankind - with some unknown beings, and were shockingly told: "The goddamn truth won't fit in your brain. It won't fit in anybody's brain." For some reason, it was clear that Telly had somehow overcome forces compelling her to forget, during some sort of 'alien' experiment about parental memory: "All I know is that you were supposed to forget like everybody else did." When he whispered in her ear: "They're listening" - he was whisked away and the entire house around them was demolished.

The illogical, preposterous and contrived conclusion brought NY Detective Anne Pope (Alfre Woodard) together with Telly at the abandoned Long Island home of the bankrupt President of the ill-fated QuestAir, Robert Shineer (also Linus Roache), where Anne was also abruptly whipped into the sky (by an inexplicable force) after confiding with Telly that she would help her to find the children: "I believe you about everything. I've seen it. It's not human. Jesus Christ....We will find your son." And in the next scene, Ash was also whisked away after a crashing fall through a window.

Just before a final showdown with the "Friendly Man," Telly learned from her knowledgeable therapist Munce, who knew about everything all along, that the 'aliens' were conducting invasive memory experiments ("They've been doing it for years. Maybe forever...We just try to minimize the damage...You've held on and they don't know why. You're just a lab rat to them"). Because Telly had never doubted, through the powerful force of her own will and faith in her son's existence, her son Sam was never forgotten, and remained a strong memory.

She kept insisting on getting her son back -- when she asked the 'alien': "He's just a little boy. What could you possibly learn from him?", she was told that she was the experiment:

Nothing...It was never about the children...Your connection, mother to child. Like an invisible tissue. We can even measure its energy. But we don't fully understand it, so I posed the question: 'Can it be dissolved?' And it can. Except for you.

The 'alien' again demanded that Telly forget her son so that his experiment wouldn't fail, explaining: "I'm accountable. I can't let that happen. And time is running out." He yelled at her: "You need to forget" and shattered glass throughout the building with his powerful voice -- but she refused to cooperate, even when he choked her and observed: "You're different from the others. Why?" He compelled her to forget her son Sam: "It's better this way. You won't be haunted by his memory. You could have a life again" - he forced her to revisit her delivery day in the hospital - ("I need that first memory. Give me that first memory!") and wiped her memory clean of the birth and her first view of Sam.

Although that particular memory was wiped clean, he didn't count on her remembering her earlier pregnancy as she touched her belly ("I had life inside of me. I had life. I have a child. I have a son. I have a son. His name is Sam, you son-of-a-bitch!") -- and as the 'alien' spoke: "I need more time" - he was abruptly yanked through the roof. Presumably, the alien experiment had failed.

In the film's happy conclusion, Telly was reunited with her son Sam on a playground, and Lauren was also there, with Ash watching her from a nearby swing. Telly and Ash became reacquainted (Ash: "I think we met before"). Everything was restored to normal by the 'alien' life-form (was a time clock wound backwards, or was there another memory trick being played?) - and only Telly could recollect what had happened (she had fallen in love with Ash, but was still married to her husband, who at one point had entirely forgotten her!).

1408 (2007) (Theatrical Version)

Writer Mike Enslin Suffered From a Lack of Faith When His Young Daughter Katie Died of Cancer, and He Separated From His Wife Lily; He Was Metaphorically and Physically Dying (in Room 1408), Until He Found a Way to Escape, Reaffirm Life, and Reconcile with Lily; His Voice-Recorder Proved That The 'Ghost' of Katie Did Visit Him in the Room

This quirky horror thriller from Swedish director Mikael Håfström was based upon a Stephen King novella (published in the compilation "Everything's Eventual: 14 Dark Tales"). Its main character was Mike Enslin (John Cusack), a researcher and best-selling "noted occult writer" whose latest ghost survival guide was titled "10 Haunted Hotels." Other titles were: "10 Haunted Graveyards," "10 Haunted AnteBellum Mansions," and "10 Haunted Lighthouses." He rated locales on a "Shiver Scale" of 1-10 skulls (with ten the highest). In every new site which he personally stayed in, he brought along an EMF meter, full-range spectrometer, and an infrared camera to scientifically measure findings. He wore a cap reading: "Paranoia is Total Awareness." One crucial fact was that he did not believe in paranormal evil and events, and was a skeptical debunker of the idea of ghosts (what he termed "spook-house bulls--t"). He was an athiest, who didn't believe that there was a God to protect humans from "ghoulies and ghosties."

At a book-signing talk, one admirer named Anna (Alexandra Silber) presented him with his first, much older, inspirational (and autobiographical - he was the "bastard" father!) book to sign - its title was a clue to the remainder of the film: "The Long Road Home." He had changed after suffering an extreme emotional tragedy in his family, yet to be revealed (the terminal illness/death of his daughter Katie (Jasmine Jessica Anthony)), and was estranged from his wife Lily (Mary McCormack) who lived in New York. He had abandoned his more promising literary career for the less-personal market of a series of top 10 horror books, while surfing and living in Hermosa Beach, California. [Later, he was described as "full of cynicism...talented intelligent man who doesn't believe in anything or anyone but himself."]

While ocean surfing, he experienced a major concussion when hit by his board -- but everything that happened afterwards could not be interpreted as his dream! (Viewed a second time later in the film, an airplane flying above was trailing a sign advertising auto insurance by calling 1-LOW-FEE-1408 just before the accident occurred.) He received an unsigned picture postcard (sent in late May 2007 - the present-day framework of the film) from the Dolphin Hotel (in New York City) with a brief message: "Don't Enter 1408." (Why would he want to investigate another hotel, since he had just finished his 'haunted hotel' book? Confusingly, he told his publisher: "It'll make a solid closing chapter of the book.")

The challenge took Mike to the East Coast (and New York City - where all his real-life 'ghosts' did indeed reside). He insisted on staying in Room 1408 of the Dolphin (located at 2254 Lexington Ave - the numbers added up to 13), although the hotel's manager Mr. Gerald Olin (Samuel L. Jackson) desperately tried to dissuade him with tales of both haunted and natural deaths in Room 1408 (the numbers added up to 13, and the room was on the '13th floor'). Olin offered him a drink of cognac grande champagne, 1939's "Les Cinquante Sept Décès" (French for "The 57 Deaths"), forcing Enslin to later ask himself if he had been drugged. [Note: Olin described 56 deaths in the room, so the 57th was possibly preordained for Enslin.] Olin's final threat was - "it's an evil f--king room!" Other historical details in the 95 year history of the hotel:

  • "No one's ever lasted more than an hour" in the room; there were four deaths under Olin's "watch"
  • the hotel had seen "seven jumpers, four overdoses, five hangings, three mutilations, two stranglings"; also there were "twenty-two natural deaths"; all told, there were 56 deaths in Room 1408, ranging from heart-attacks, strokes, to a drowning ("Mr. Grady Miller drowned in his chicken soup"); the first victim was Mr. Kevin O'Malley, a sewing machine salesman, who cut his own throat, October, 1912, the first week the hotel opened

The film played upon primal fears (isolation, alienation, unease and loneliness in an unfamiliar surrounding, such as a hotel room), and the major problems customers always find in hotel rooms ("hotel rooms are a naturally creepy place"), although exaggerated (Enslin called the room a 'sarcophagal chamber'):

  • undetected turn-down service in the room (toilet paper neatly folded, courtesy chocolates on the bed)
  • crooked and dull "thrift-store" paintings (the three drawings eerlily came to life - one flooded the room)
  • the clock radio loudly turned itself on (ironically playing The Carpenters' "We've Only Just Begun"); it also started a count-down of one-hour
  • a baby cried in the next room through the thin walls
  • a faulty thermostat (the readings went from 80 degrees F - 'hot' and delusional at first, and then to 0 degrees - signifying frozenness and death)
  • a window slammed shut unexpectedly; a bathroom sink faucet was scalding
  • a misdirected phone call was from room-service
  • a broken key and door handle made the room a prison
  • sinister reflections were seen on a window across the street
  • a spy-cam was located in the upper air vent
  • there were cracked and bleeding walls; activated sprinklers sprayed the room
  • an outer building ledge was no means of escape (none of the other rooms on the 14th floor had windows)

Most importantly, in his subconscious, he was haunted by the voice of his deceased daughter Katie playing hide-and-seek. Enslin spoke into his voice-recorder about running away from reality: "You're running to places that aren't real...You're losing the plot. You're losing the whole goddamn structure" - the crux of his life's difficulties! He recalled that his daughter had died of cancer, a time when he had also lost faith in God ("What kind of God would do this to a little girl?"). He had shattered his family's hopes about contemplating and promising the prospects of life after death. He had argued with Lily about their treatment of dying Katie: "We should have done more...We should have helped her fight instead of filling her head full of these stories about heavens and the clouds and nirvana, and all that bulls--t." And he had walked out on Lily a year earlier - not explaining whether it was a divorce or separation.

During his intense hallucinations in the room, he was literally facing his own physical death (he metaphorically was the "man overboard" in the animated painting), drowning in the room (and California surf). Now, it appeared that he was "ready to deal with this stuff," as Lily suggested. He rescued himself by communicating with Lily, bringing him peace, comfort, and calm (in his delusion, she visited him in LA as he was recovering from his surfing accident). But then he found himself back in Room 1408, looping back into the "horrible dream," although momentarily he thought he had been rescued and renewed. He was back in the imprisoning room - doomed. The "ghost" of Katie came to him for a loving embrace, but then died and crumbled in his arms.

He received one final recorded hotel phone call with a choice: "You can choose to relive this hour over and over, or you can take advantage of our express check-out system." He imagined hanging himself, but then changed his mind and chose life. Finally admitting that he had lived a selfish life, he escaped by taking the literal advice of a hand-scratched message on a brick wall: "BURN ME ALIVE!" He set the room afire with a molotov cocktail, setting off alarms and summoning firetrucks to the rescue. On the street below, Lily instructed firemen to find him on the 14th floor. Mr. Olin was heard congratulating Enslin for living: "Well done, Mr. Enslin." He recuperated in a NY hospital, and was moving back (or returning 'home') to be with Lily. In voice-over, he ended the film - as he wrote the postscript for his book (he gave the Dolphin 10 skulls):

That day, Lily saved my life. And the Dolphin is closed, at least for now. Believe what you want. All I know is, no more ghost stories. I've checked out.

The sole possession he kept from the fire was his voice-recorder. He played back one of the audio recordings he had made, as Lily listened in disbelief - it was of Katie speaking to him when he was hugging her ("I'm not gonna let you go") in the room, proving that the events in 1408 actually happened (and that Katie's 'ghost' was real).

Fracture (2007)

Crawford Shot His Unfaithful Wife Jennifer in the Face After Cleverly Switching Weapons and Using the Identical Gun of Her Virile Lover Lt. Nunally (Who Was Also the Investigating Cop); During the Subsequent Trial, Crawford Was Declared Innocent of "Attempted Murder." Afterwards He Ordered Comatose Wife Jennifer Removed From Life Support, and The Incriminating Bullet Lodged in Her Head Was Retrieved and Tested. He also Admitted His Crime (Thinking He Was Protected by the Double Jeopardy Clause), But Didn't Realize After Confessing That He Could Now Be Fully Retried for "Murder" with New Evidence (the Switched Guns, the Bullet, Etc.)

Director Gregory Hoblit's intense legal thriller and crime mystery involved an attempted murder and the subsequent trial. Its tagline stated: "I SHOT MY WIFE...PROVE IT."

The two main protagonists who were to become engaged in a battle of wits in the courtroom attempted-murder trial were:

  • defendant Theodore "Ted" Crawford (Anthony Hopkins), a smartly intelligent, meticulous Irish aeronautical structural engineer in Los Angeles, interested in marble drop structures and in the study of what made things fracture
  • ambitious Deputy DA William "Willy" Beachum (Ryan Gosling), a hot shot lawyer

In the film's opening, Crawford found evidence (on November 10th) that his young attractive 'trophy' wife Jennifer (or "Jen") (Embeth Davidtz) was engaged in an affair (later revealed as twice-per-week) in the same hotel in Santa Monica (in LA's Southern California). She was swimming in the Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows pool area with virile Lt. Robert Nunally (Billy Burke), LAPD's head hostage negotiator, where both signed in as Mr. and Mrs. Smith.

[Plot Twist: Offscreen, Crawford switched his Glock 45 gun with Nunally's identical gun in the hotel room: "You took his, you put yours in his place."]

After his cheating and unhappy wife drove home, Crawford confronted her ("Knowledge is pain"), told her he loved her, then seriously wounded her by shooting her in the head at close range as she turned toward him. He wiped the used shell casing with a handkerchief. He also fired three shots at nearby windows to scare off the gardener, and then scrubbed his forearms and face with hot water.

[Plot Twist: Crawford shot his wife with Nunally's gun.]

The investigating cop sent to the scene was Lt. Nunally, who was soon shocked to find the victim was his secret lover. Crawford allowed only Nunally into the house - and then persuaded that they both put down their pistols. Crawford then confessed on the scene to shooting his wife ("It's just like I suddenly snapped, and I got the gun and I shot her in the head. I know it was wrong. Are you listening to me, Rob?"), and hinted that he knew Nunally had 'screwed' his wife.

Nunally saw his own lover - bloody, comatose and barely alive on the floor in an adjoining room, and he tried to revive her. When Crawford appeared behind him in the room brandishing a gun, Nunally grabbed for the weapon, then tackled and assaulted Crawford before he was arrested by SWAT team members, and charged with the crime. Crawford's weapon was taken as evidence and bagged.

[Plot Twist: Nunally was actually carrying Crawford's gun when he arrived. While Nunally briefly tended to Jennifer and was distracted, Crawford reloaded Nunally's gun (used to commit the crime, with four bullets fired) and placed it back where Nunally had left his weapon, while at the same time taking back his original, unused and unfired gun. No one noticed the switch before Crawford was arrested. The weapon that was taken as evidence - the murder weapon - was Crawford's unused gun.]

During an immediate courtroom trial in which Beachum thought he had a 'foolproof' open-and-shut attempted murder case (with a weapon and a signed confession), Crawford represented himself, and challenged Beachum before the trial: "You look closely enough, you'll find everything has a weak spot where it can break, sooner or later" -

  • According to forensics, the murder weapon (Crawford's unused gun that was bought a month earlier) had never been fired, did not have fingerprints, and did not match the four shell casings at the crime scene.
    [The real weapon was in the possession of an unwitting Nunally, who had taken it from the house, and possessed it during the entire trial: "And then you knew that he would just walk the murder weapon right outta the house...He sat through the entire trial wearing the only piece of evidence on his hip. Then he used it on himself."]
  • Crawford's confession of guilt to Nunally was considered inadmissable: (1) it occurred in the house, when there was an assault/arrest between Crawford and his wife's own lover (who was "f--king the victim"), and (2) Nunally was also present during Crawford's confession in the police station when he signed his confession, causing Crawford 'duress': "The confessions and any evidence gathered while Mr. Nunally was present will all have to be excluded as 'fruit of the poisonous tree'."
  • Hotel video showed someone in a floppy white hat and sunglasses entering the hotel room - but the person's face could not be identified conclusively.
  • Without any evidence tying Crawford to the murder weapon, he was acquitted.
  • A depressed Nunally committed suicide outside the courtroom with his own gun, using the murder weapon on himself.

Jennifer was the sole witness who could testify against her husband Crawford (who had shot her), but hopes of her testifying against him vanished when Crawford threatened to use his 'health care proxy,' and he ordered her removed or unplugged from life support. Beachum worried: "This man's gonna kill his wife." Beachum secured a court order to stop the disconnection, and delivered it to the medical center just as Jennifer was flat-lining - he was unsuccessful in halting her death. Beachum was tipped off to the possibility of two identical guns (used by Nunally and Crawford) when he accidentally picked up the cellphone of his assistant.

After Jennifer's death, the incriminating bullet in her head was examined and matched up with the weapon (removing it while she was alive was too risky). Beachum told Crawford in his home during their final confrontation:

"I got the bullet, the one in your wife's head. That one we couldn't take out as long as she was alive. I'm pretty sure it's gonna match Nunally's and that gives me the murder weapon."

[Possible Plot Hole: However, since the gun was eventually found in Nunally’s possession, bearing only his fingerprints, it couldn't really be traced back to Crawford.]

Egotistical Crawford was confident about revealing to Beachum his crime of attempted murder - and he confessed to his guilt:

"I bet you don't even need a confession anymore, do you, Willy? Oh, I tell you what, though, old sport. Uh, let's make you a new one just in case. The real deal, all the juicy details. You can get your rocks off on that, then, can't ya? Huh? Yeah. I shot my wife in the face. Right there. She didn't look so pretty after that. And I stood there looking down at her. And I watched her eyes go all empty. I could smell the blood and the shit. Smelled like metal. And the look on his face. Aw, heh, he's trying to get her back to life, you see. And I was pissing myself laughing, because I took both the bastards out with one f--king bullet. Yeah."

Crawford then smirked and believed that he was protected by the "double jeopardy clause":

"I went to trial, you lost. Oh, pity about that. Uh, doesn't matter what you do now. Doesn't matter what you know. I mean, she could come back from the dead, you see and testify, spill the beans, and it would mean nothing. So you can't touch me, ever."

Beachum countered that now that Crawford had actually killed his wife, he could be charged with murder:

"She was alive. When you first went to trial for attempted murder, your wife was still alive. But you just had to pull that plug, didn't ya? Hmm? Well, now she's dead, and that's murder. That's homicide, first degree, and that's new charges. There's new evidence. That's a new trial."

Beachum walked outside, where police had been listening in, and Crawford was subsequently charged with murder. As the film concluded, once again, Beachum was back in court trying Crawford for the new crime.

Frailty (2001)

Fenton Meiks Was Actually Adam Meiks, On A Mission to Destroy Demons And Get Away With Murder

This haunting psychological horror-thriller by Bill Paxton (his directorial debut film) had the tagline: "No Soul is Safe."

A person claiming to be Fenton Meiks (Matthew McConaughey as adult) confessed to Dallas FBI Agent Wesley Doyle (Powers Boothe) that his brother Adam (Levi Kreis as adult) (whose body was in an ambulance after he committed suicide) was the likely, self-proclaimed "God's Hand" serial killer. Adam was to be buried in his hometown of Thurman, Texas, in a public rose garden.

It was later revealed, through flashbacks, that both Adam (Jeremy Sumpter as young Adam) and Fenton (Matthew O'Leary as young Fenton) had been brought up in a strictly-religious household with a delusional, possibly schizophrenic, redneck widowed father (Bill Paxton) who had religious visions of "God's will" that led him to enact divine retribution - to kill 'demons' that he saw in various individuals ("They may look like people on the outside, but inside...", and "We don't kill people, we destroy demons"). Individuals who were identified as demons were abducted, taken to the Meiks home, axed to death (with the two young sons present), and then buried in the rose garden.

In the upending, contrived twist ending, there was an abrupt change in the identity of the film's narrator - it was Adam, not Fenton, who had been narrating. Adam had killed his brother Fenton, and then posed as Fenton to frame him. Fenton (actually Adam) told Doyle that after his father was killed by his brother, the job of killing demons was passed on to him. Fenton/Adam took agent Doyle to the public rose garden near his old home, where he claimed his brother had buried the bodies. There, he killed agent Doyle (who was justifiably regarded as a real 'demon' - a mother-murderer - and deserved to be killed).

Since everyone thought that the confessor in Doyle's office was Fenton (and not Adam), Adam was able to get away with the murder (and the fuzzy security camera pictures didn't help to identify him when he first came to the Dallas FBI office). All of the clues in Doyle's disappearance and death lead to Fenton. Believing that Fenton was the killer, FBI agents led by Agent Griffin Hull (Derk Cheetwood) went to Adam's town in Enid County to tell him about the death of his brother Fenton. Adam was the town sheriff and his wife was pregnant.

Frankenhooker (1990)

Jeffrey Woke Up With a Hooker's Body

Horror filmmaker Frank Henenlotter's popular midnight movie mixed black comedy, horror, and sleazy sexploitation, in order to update Bride of Frankenstein (1935) and serve as a follow-up film to the Re-Animator series. Its humorous tagline was:

She's hot. She's sexy. And she's sutured to please.

The main character in this R-rated (available as "unrated" also) film was electrician/mad scientist Jeffrey Franken (James Lorinz) - a neurotic medical school dropout (now a blue-collar engineer). He lived with his mother (Louise Lasser) and was engaged to Elizabeth Shelley (ex-Penthouse Pet Patty Mullen). He became insane when Elizabeth was chewed up by his remote-controlled lawn-mower in a freak and tragic accident.

After preserving her head in a freezer (in a gooey purple liquid), his goal was to resurrect her body to its former self by stitching the head to other female body parts. He murdered a group of prostitutes in a hotel by serving them "super-crack" - causing them to detonate (in the film's most memorable sequence), and then took their severed limbs and parts to his laboratory to sew together and re-animate with electricity. His resultant "Bride of Frankenstein" was a sexually-ravenous nymphomaniac and undead (but deadly) "Frankenhooker" who went on the prowl for johns ("Wanna date?"). Every time she kissed a male client, he would explode.

In the most bizarre, sickly humorous twist ending - a great surprise - after Jeffrey was decapitated by a pimp named Zorro (Joseph Gonzalez), he had his head grafted onto the body of a large breasted hooker's body in order to be rejuvenated. As he awoke on an uprighted table, he lamented to Elizabeth:

Jeffrey: Holy s--t! That's not my hand. What are these boobs? Elizabeth, what did you do to me?
Elizabeth: I can explain. Obviously, since your theory only works on female body parts, I couldn't reuse your old body, or even Zorro's, so naturally, I had to make some changes. (She uncovered a mirror for a full view)
Jeffrey: No! Where's my johnson? What did you do to me, Elizabeth?
Elizabeth: Granted, what I did may have been a bit unorthodox, but hey, you look great, and you're alive, and you're back with me and I love you. I love you, Jeffrey, and we're together again. All of us, together again. Together again!

The film concluded with Jeffrey moaning in anguish.

Frantic (1988)

During a Trade-Swap (Of a Smuggled Atomic Bomb Detonator Device) Between Arab Terrorists and Dr. Walker (Aided by Drug Smuggler Michelle), His Kidnapped, Ransomed Wife Sondra Was Freed; During the Confrontation, Michelle Was Caught in the Crossfire (Shot and Killed by Police); Afterwards, Walker Threw the Device Into the Seine River

Director Roman Polanski's suspenseful, Hitchcock-like mystery-thriller began with American Dr. Richard Walker (Harrison Ford) and his wife Sondra (Betty Buckley) arriving in Paris for a medical conference where he was to deliver a paper. They had honeymooned there 20 years earlier. At their hotel while she was unpacking, they both discovered that they couldn't unlock her suitcase. While Dr. Walker was taking a shower, she mysteriously disappeared (she was forcibly taken and forced into a car).

Jet-lagged and fatigued and unable to speak French, he followed various leads to search for her, with little assistance from hotel staff, Parisian police and the bureaucratic US Embassy, and was unable to locate his missing (presumably kidnapped) wife.

Apparently, Sondra had mistakenly picked up the wrong suitcase at the airport. [She took a similar-looking suitcase that contained a smuggled and concealed atomic bomb detonator.] After prying open the mistakenly-taken suitcase, Walker found - among other things - a small Lady Liberty statue ceramic replica. He didn't know that hidden inside the statue was an atom bomb device, a krytron (a small electronic detonator for a nuclear bomb) - the film's MacGuffin.

While following clues, he came across a streetwise young woman - a mischievous, sexy courier (career smuggler) named Michelle (Emmanuelle Seigner). She admitted to picking up the wrong suitcase at the airport - Sondra's. Then, she agreed to help him, in exchange for the money she was owed for trafficking in narcotics, to search for their suitcase. As she helped him during a frantic and tense search, he stumbled across an underworld of European drug smuggling involved in terrorist arms sales.

In the film's conclusion set by the River Seine, the two confronted two Arab terrorists on a boat, who released Walker's wife unharmed ("My wife first!"), in exchange for the trigger device. With the device in her hand, Michelle approached the terrorists and demanded to be paid 10,000 francs ("Give me my money or I'll throw your f--king thing in the river!...I still wasn't paid"). During intense crossfire in a gunfight with police from a nearby bridge, the terrorist dealers were killed, and Michelle was lethally shot.

Before dying, Michelle slipped the trigger device into Walker's right coat pocket. An angry and disgusted Walker threw the krytron device into the fast-moving river after asking the police agents:

"This? This is what you want?"

The Lady Liberty Statue (With a Device Inside)

Michelle's Death By the Seine River

Freaks (1932)

The Freaks Sought Revenge Against Cleopatra - Turning Her Into a Half-Chicken/Half-Human 'Freak'

Seeking revenge on evil aerialist Cleopatra (Olga Baclanova) for plotting to kill the wealthy dwarf Hans (Harry Earles) by poisoning him, fellow freaks attacked strongman Hercules (Henry Victor) with knives and killed him during a fierce rainstorm.

The freaks also put their curse on Cleopatra by turning her into a half-chicken woman (off-screen). She was then displayed in the carnival as a side-show 'freak.'

Friday the 13th (1980)

The Killer Was Mrs. Voorhees, Jason's Vengeful Mother 22 Years After Her Son 'Died' At the Camp Due to Counselor Negligence. It Was Possible That Jason Had Survived to Take Revenge

In this classic slasher film set in either 1979 or 1980 (on a full-moon Friday the 13th, the birthday of Jason!), the serial killer was not son Jason Voorhees (Ari Lehman) - emphasized in the opening of the film Scream (1996), but his camp kitchen-worker mother Mrs. Voorhees (Betsy Palmer) who was taking revenge for her 11 year-old son's accidental death from drowning in the lake over two decades earlier in 1957 (when camp counselors at Camp Crystal Lake were distracted while having sex and avoided their supervisory duties).

In the shock ending, after sole surviving camp counselor Alice Hardy (Adrienne King) decapitated the insane woman with her own machete after a violent struggle by the lake, she took a canoe ride out to the middle of the tranquil lake, where the long-lost, re-animated, half-decomposed corpse of Jason suddenly burst out of the lake and attacked her the next dawn.

She was grabbed by the neck and pulled underwater, but it all appeared to be an hallucinatory nightmare (or was it real?) as Alice awakened screaming "No!" in a hospital bed, and was told by a police officer that she was the sole survivor: "Ma'am, we didn't find any boy."

The film ended after she pondered to herself: "But he...then he's still there."

Friday the 13th, Part V: A New Beginning (1985)

Paramedic Roy Was The Killer, Using The Persona of "Jason" As A Cover-Up!

Although the film's plot led you to believe that hockey-masked Jason Voorhees was the returning maniacal, homicidal killer, most of the film's murders (there were 22 total deaths) were committed by a 'Jason' copy-cat - paramedic Roy Burns (Dick Wieand), who sliced, stabbed and spiked seventeen (17) individuals throughout the film.

His killing rampage, mostly of peripheral characters, was triggered by the sight of the hacked body of a troubled youth at Pinehurst halfway house when he came to take away the corpse of obese chocolate bar-eating orphan Joey Burns (Dominick Brascia), who had been chopped up with an axe by angry, short-haired resident Vic (Mark Venturini). He was visibly upset by the bloody and maimed remains of the victim lying in hacked-up pieces on the ground.

The killer was revealed in the conclusion when 'Jason' was knocked out of an upper barn window onto a bed of iron-spiked farm equipment (a tractor harrow) below where his body was impaled. The hockey-mask was dislodged from his face and the rain washed away his 'Jason' makeup, showing that he was not 'Jason,' but disgruntled ambulance paramedic Roy Burns.

Sheriff Tucker (Marco St. John) explained that Roy was seeking retribution for the death of his long-lost patient son Joey and had used the persona of 'Jason' as a cover-up:

The kid who was axed to death at the woodpile was Roy's son. God only knows why Roy kept it hidden all these years, but he did. Roy was a real loner.

Feeling guilty for abandoning his infant son, the disgruntled psychopath sought vengeance on those who had tormented Joey - and many others. When Roy arrived on the traumatic scene and saw his son "all hacked to pieces," he went insanely crazy: "I guess he used the Jason thing to cover up with."

As the film concluded, hallucinatory, mentally-disturbed and Jason-crazed Tommy Jarvis (John Shepherd) donned the hockey mask. He threatened to stab Pinehurst's Assistant Director Pam Roberts (Melanie Kinnaman) who had come to his room. It was not a dream this time - and he prepared to attack her with his upraised machete. (Was he the next Jason?) The film ended with a zoom to his eyeball under the mask, and a fade to black before the credits.

Greatest Movie Plot Twists, Spoilers and Surprise Endings

(alphabetical by film title)
Intro | A1 | A2 | B1 | B2 | B3 | B4 | B5 | C1 | C2 | C3 | D1 | D2 | D3 | E1 | E2 | F1 | F2 | G | H1 | H2 | H3 | I | J-K | L1 | L2
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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