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

Wait Until Dark (1967)

Mike and Carlino Were Killed by Roat; Blind Susy Survived Her Ordeal Against Roat in Her Darkened Apartment After Stabbing Him to Death

In this suspense thriller, there were three con-men searching for drugs (heroin), sewed up inside a baby doll:

  • Mike Talman (Richard Crenna)
  • Carlino (Jack Weston)
  • Harry Roat (Alan Arkin), the mastermind

After Roat's wife, fashion model Lisa (Samantha Jones) had given up the doll to a stranger, Sam Hendrix (Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.), at NYC's JFK airport after an international plane flight from Montreal, she was suffocated to death by her husband - he claimed an alleged double-cross.

The con-men plotted to locate the doll (taken for awhile by Sam's exasperating young next-door neighbor Gloria (Julie Herrod)), believing it was in the tiny NY basement apartment of Sam's blind, yet self-reliant housewife Susy Hendrix (Audrey Hepburn). With the help of Gloria, Susy determined that the three men were imposters acting out roles (a police officer/detective, a friend of Sam's, etc.) to acquire the valuable doll.

There was a final battle of wits after the villainous and crazed Roat had killed his two associates. He doused the entire apartment with gasoline from a red container and then threatened to set everything on fire with a burning, rolled-up newspaper. She retaliated by throwing a chemical into his face and smashing all the lights, leaving the apartment in complete darkness (she had earlier closed all the blinds). When he again taunted her with a lit-match, she began spraying and dousing him with some of the left-over gasoline in the container ("Try lighting a match now, Mr. Roat! Throw your matches over to me"). To keep him at bay, she lit the matches one by one, threatening to ignite him, and forced him to tap the floor with her cane to indicate his location. He outwitted her by opening the refrigerator door to provide the room with light, and permanently propped it open with a towel ("Well, Susy, it's all over").

He coerced her to give up the doll, and then was about to possibly rape and kill her ("Well, Susy, now I want you in the bedroom"). In the bedroom, she surprised him by stabbing him in the abdomen with a kitchen knife, but then couldn't escape his crazed pursuit and get out of the locked apartment. In the film's jump-scare moment, the ruthless Roat lunged with a knife from the dark hallway toward Susy as she raced to the kitchen and struggled to shut the refrigerator door. She survived Roat's brutal assault as her crawled toward her (using the knife as leverage) by hiding behind the refrigerator door (the open door lighted the room before she pulled the plug). The scene ended in total darkness with the sound of her anguished screams.

At film's end, she slowly emerged as the sole survivor, crouched in the corner behind the refrigerator door.

Waking Life (2001)

Philosophical Questions Unanswered - Was the Young Dreamer's Life Real, or A Dream? Did He Wake Up or Was He Dead?

This was an off-beat, fresh, rambling, dream-like creatively-imaginative animated film (originally a live-action film that was later painted with a computer process) that followed the disconnected thoughts and inner discussions of the nameless main character, the Dreamer (voice of Wiley Wiggins). Accused of being pseudo-intellectual, this free-floating unique film presented a collage of images as it philosophically contemplated the illusionary nature of reality.

The young Dreamer became panicked over his inability to wake up from a persistent "dream." He experienced many "false awakenings" from his dreamworld state, and obsessed over the prospect that he was actually dead or in the process of dying, or forever stuck in a dream state.

At the end of the film, the Pinball Playing Man (director Richard Linklater) gave a long description of existence to the Dreamer, who had asserted: "I'm starting to think that I'm dead." He described a dream he once had after he had read an essay by science-fiction writer Philip K. Dick, who had a theory that time was an illusion.

The Dreamer also complained about feeling trapped in his own dream:

I mean, how did you, how did you finally get out of the dream? See, that's my problem. I'm like I'm trapped. I keep, I keep thinking that I'm waking up, but I'm still in a dream. It seems like it's going on forever. I can't get out of it. I wanna wake up for real. How do you really wake up?

The film concluded with the Pinball Playing Man's final advice to the Dreamer, the last spoken lines of the film, to "Just Wake Up":

I don't know. I don't know. I'm not very good at that anymore. But, um, if that's what you're thinkin', I mean, you probably should. I mean, you know, if you can wake up, you should, because, you know, some day, you know, you won't be able to, so, just, uhm, but it's easy, you know - just, just wake up.

The Dreamer woke up (another false awakening into another dream?), walked outside, and suddenly floated into the air until he was only a tiny speck of nothing far up in the sky - an ambiguous ending. Was he waking up to "waking life"? Was he still dreaming? Was he possibly dead when he floated away and became nothing?

Walkabout (1971, Australia)

The Aboriginal Boy, Who Had Saved the Lives of the two Young English Children in the Australian Outback, Hanged Himself; Years Later Back in Civilization, the Girl Recollected Her Experience

In this haunting Australian film from director Nicolas Roeg, a 14 year-old English girl (Jenny Agutter) and her six-year-old brother (Lucien John) were stranded in the Australian bush when their geologist father (John Meillon) committed suicide during a picnic by setting their car on fire.

The two wandered to a location of a lone fruit tree and a pool of water. When those vanished soon after, they were saved after meeting up with a teenaged aborigine boy (David Gulpilil) during his 'walkabout' (to prove his manhood). In the stunning ending, the native aborigine - with a painted skeleton on his body - performed a silent, ritualistic mating dance for the civilized, repressed girl at a deserted farmhouse. She ignored and resisted his (and her own) sexual rite of passage, by continuing to treat him as a detached servant -- with disastrous results.

After the aboriginal danced all night and became weary, she found him the next morning hanging dead in a mango tree, and she barely reacted.

The film ended years later with the young girl now married and returned to civilization, living in a high-rise apartment complex. She was wishfully daydreaming back to her days in the outback when she happily swam naked with the aborigine and her young brother. They were long-gone days of paradise lost, referred to in the voice-over reading of one of A.E. Housman's poems in A Shropshire Lad:

Into my heart an air that kills
From yon far country blows:
What are those blue remembered hills,
What spires, what farms are those?

That is the land of lost content,
I see it shining plain,
The happy highways where I went
And cannot come again.

Wanted (2008)

A Secret Fraternity or Brotherhood of Assassins-Executioners Trained Wimpy Ex-Office-Cubicle Worker Wesley Gibson To Be One of Them. A Rogue Ex-Fraternity Member Named Cross Was Said to Have Killed Wesley's Father - One of the Elite Assassins. To Retaliate, Wesley Was Given a Mission to Seek Revenge and Kill Cross. As Cross Passed Away After Wesley Shot Him, Cross Admitted That Wesley Was His Son. The Fraternity Was Revealed to Be a Profitable Hit Squad of Killers Executing Innocents for Its Evil Leader Sloan. It Was Not a Crime-Fighting Organization. As Fate Would Have It, Wesley Executed Sloan With a Long-Distance Bullet to the Head - Shot From His Deceased Father's Apartment.

Russian director Timur Bekmambetov's dark and brutal action summer blockbuster (his first English-language film) was loosely based upon the superhero comic book miniseries titled Wanted by Mark Millar and J. G. Jones. The Matrix wanna-be sci-fi film with mind-bending special effects centered around the existence of a one-thousand year old association or clan of weavers known as The Fraternity in eastern Moravia that had formed a secret society of assassins. Their slogan was to carry out executions ("kill one and maybe save a thousand") to maintain stability, balance and peace in the chaotic world.

The central character was 24 year-old Moravian-born American Wesley Allan Gibson (James McAvoy), a frustrated, aimless and broke, apathetic, hypochondriac, weak and wimpy ("pussy") account manager in Chicago, with a demanding and obese donut-loving corporate boss named Janice (Lorna Scott). At home, anxiety-prone Wesley had an unhappy relationship with his cheating and bickering girlfriend Cathy (Kristen Hager), who he knew was having sex with his co-worker and best friend Barry (Chris Pratt), but did nothing to stop it.

In a drug store pharmacy, Wesley was confronted by mysterious, anorexic Fraternity member Fox (Angelina Jolie), who claimed that she knew his recently-killed father, an elite professional assassin - and "one of the greatest assassins who ever lived." Wesley responded that his father had deserted his family when he was one week old. To his further surprise, she rescued him (actually herself!) in the store from being assassinated by the alleged killer - rogue ex-Fraternity member Cross (Thomas Kretschmann) who was thought to have betrayed Wesley's father before killing him in cold blood, and was now gunning down the members of the Fraternity one-by-one.

[Note: One not-so obvious clue about the plot's development occurred very early: on a wooden telephone pole outside Wesley's apartment was a sign reading: "Your Father's Son." The camera then focused on the window of an apartment within view in the background. The two-windowed apartment with a porch door was part of the previous short action sequence (reported later in the news as "Gang Violence on Rooftop, 5 Dead in Mass Shooting"). From an elaborate gun fitted with a scope, a long-distance bullet killed an assassin (standing on an X-target mark) on the Metropolitan's roof-top. After the killing, the bullet's slow-motion trajectory was reversed to show its source from the small apartment window. Shortly later, it was inferred that the executed man was Wesley's father named Cross. However, it was later revealed that the deceased man was actually assassin Mr. X (David O'Hara), and the killer in the apartment was Cross. He was living directly across the way from his son's apartment: "Your father was never more than a camera click away."]

After a thrilling shootout and car chase, Fox introduced Wesley to the brotherhood's current leader - enigmatic Sloan (Morgan Freeman). The Fraternity's headquarters were in a textile mill factory-fortress, a large warehouse. To his astonishment, Wesley was able to shoot the wings off three flies with six bullets. Because of his enormous hidden gifts and rare superhuman abilities inherited from his father, he was recruited to join the shadowy underground Fraternity (to follow in his father's footsteps). After he quit his job with newfound confidence in himself (after inheriting his father's fortune of over $3 million), Wesley was brought to the Fraternity to be inducted. [A major question soon would arise - why did the Fraternity train Wesley, knowing that he would possibly turn on them with his newfound skills?]

He was repeatedly beaten to a bloody pulp, then often taken to a Recovery Room area where he was healed from his wounds in hours, not days, in a white waxy bath. With Fox as his mentor, he was eventually taught to control his innate bursts of adrenaline, strength, speed, dexterity and reflexes. Importantly, he was trained to shoot bullets to curve around objects (similar to The Matrix's innovative 'bullet time'). He learned about a Loom of Fate that created fabrics with hidden woven binary codes ("a mystical language") that identified names of future targets to be assassinated.

Sloan gave Wesley an objective after some practice missions - to pursue and kill his father's murderer: Cross. Sloan considered Wesley as "the only one who can get to him." At the same time, double-crossing Sloan also assigned Fox to execute Wesley.

Two major plot twists were revealed:

  • After an exciting pursuit sequence (joined by Fox) in eastern Moravia aboard a crowded passenger train that was derailed, Wesley fatally shot Cross (who had just grabbed his wrist to save him from plunging to his death down a chasm). Before Cross died, he gasped: "Everything they told you was a lie...You are my son." Fox confirmed why Wesley was chosen to kill his father: "Because you are the only person he wouldn't kill."
  • Back in Chicago in his father's apartment, Wesley further learned that Cross went rogue because he realized the Fraternity was really an organized, profitable and covert hit squad of contract killers working for Sloan. His father was actually trying to "rescue" Wesley, and never wanted his son in the Fraternity of Assassins. Cross had become disillusioned when he realized his role as a crime-fighting enforcer was only a fraudulent sham and lie.

Rather than pursuing a peaceful life that his father wanted for him by fleeing the country with a Sovereign Airways economy ticket, an enraged Wesley decoded the next fateful Loom execution - Sloan himself. He used his father's own detailed plans and weapons to assault the textile factory (with thousands of rats with explosive devices strapped to their backs). Within the mill during a final confrontational standoff in Sloan's circular office (Wesley to Sloan: "You're just a thug who can bend bullets"), Fox sacrificed herself by killing the last remaining Fraternity members with a curved bullet (marked GOODBYE) to their heads (including her own), to fulfill the Loom's wishes. Meanwhile, Sloan escaped.

In the startling, plot twist ending, Sloan approached behind a man seated at a computer in a work cubicle who was typing the name "Wesley Gibson" into a Google search box (with no results found). Sloan held a gun to the back of the person's head, thinking it was Wesley. When the worker turned around, he revealed himself to be a decoy. Sloan (who was standing on an X mark made with Post-it notes) was shot and killed by Wesley with a long-distance bullet (similar to the film's opening action scene). Its slow-motion trajectory, played backwards from his father's apartment, traveled through objects of key individuals in Wesley's life before striking Sloan in the head: his boss's donut, and his ex-best friend's power drink can. In voice-over, Wesley spoke about how his 'nobody' life had now - after six weeks - become a success story:

"This is not me fulfilling my destiny. This is not me following in my father's footsteps. This is definitely not me saving the world....This is not me. (The person in the cubicle swiveled in his chair) This is just a motherf--king decoy. (The bullet emerged out of Sloan's forehead) This is me taking control. From Sloan, from the Fraternity, from Janice, from billing reports, from ergonomic keyboards, from cheating girlfriends and sack-of-s--t best friends. This is me taking back control."

Wesley then turned to the audience, next to the high-powered gun scope-sight, with a taunting closing-curtain line: "What the f--k have you done lately?"

The War of the Worlds (1953)

The Martian Alien Attack Could Not be Deterred by Even the Blast of an A-Bomb. The 'Achilles heel' That Finally Defeated Them was Bacteria ("The Littlest Things").

Paramount's Technicolored science-fiction, alien-invasion film from director Byron Haskin (and producer George Pal), loosely adapted from British author H.G. Wells' 1898 novel (of the same name), was about a Martian invasion of Earth, occurring in 1950s Southern California near Los Angeles. [Note: This was one of the things purists objected to, although other cities around the world were also affected.]

It was an historically-interesting film, the grand-daddy of alien attack films, which won the year's Academy Award for Best Special Effects. The film was preceded in 1938 by Orson Welles' Mercury Theater on the Air radio version which shocked listeners who thought there was a real invasion occurring in Grover's Mill, New Jersey.

In the film's opening, the commentator (Sir Cedric Hardwicke) explained how Martians wished to migrate to Earth, to colonize the thriving planet:

No one would have believed in the middle of the 20th Century that human affairs were being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than Man's. Yet, across the gulf of space on the planet Mars, intellects vast and cool and unsypathetic regarded our Earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely joined their plans against us. Mars is more than 140 million miles from the sun, and for centuries has been in the last status of exhaustion. At night, temperatures drop far below zero even at its equator. Inhabitants of this dying planet looked across space with instruments and intelligences that which we have scarcely dreamed, searching for another world to which they could migrate.

Meteorites landed in a California forest in the small town of Linda Rosa. When a trio of townsfolk approached the downed spacecraft with a truce flag after the object's hatch unscrewed itself, they were vaporized by a blast from a tentacled, cobra-snake-like heat ray (or disintegrator beam) appendage, emanating from a sleek, hovering manta ray-like flying machine.

The warring invaders begin an assault on Earth, and destroyed everything that resisted - by employing protective force-fields. The dropping of an A-bomb was ineffective - one of the Martian flying machines, seen in a binocular view, emerged unscathed from a cloud of dust. One of the military generals, Maj. General Mann (Les Tremayne) was dismayed: "Guns, tanks, bombs - they're like toys against them!" Soon, Los Angeles was evacuated as the Martians were proceeding to conquer the world, and mobs of people panicked during their flight.

When the Martian threat fell prey to bacterial infection (an ironic twist), the commentator intoned (in voice-over) that God had saved humanity by "the littlest things." Miraculously, the Martian flying ships collapsed throughout the world (and outside a church in SoCal where Sylvia and Clayton were reunited) and the aliens died - and the film ended in an uplifting scene with survivors standing on a hillside thankfully singing hymns:

The Martians had no resistance to the bacteria in our atmosphere to which we have long since become immune. Once they had breathed our air, germs, which no longer affect us, began to kill them. The end came swiftly. All over the world, their machines began to stop and fall. After all that men could do had failed, the Martians were destroyed and humanity was saved by the littlest things, which God in His wisdom, had put upon this Earth.

Water Drops on Burning Rocks (2000, Fr.) (aka Gouttes D'eau Sur Pierres Brulantes)

Franz Committed Suicide by Poisoning; Leopold Continued to Dominate Vera and Franz' Fiancee Anna

Director Francois Ozon's four-act, dark comedy/tragedy was set in 1970s Berlin Germany and confined to the interior of the apartment of the central character. It examined both homosexual and heterosexual relationships through the character of 20 year-old bi-sexual, red-headed Franz (Malick Zidi), who functioned as the live-in lover and houseboy for domineering 50 year-old insurance salesman Leopold Bluhm (Bernard Giraudeau).

After six months, they found themselves at odds with each other and constantly bickering, but things would change for the gay couple with the sudden arrival of the two ex-loves of both males:

  • Franz's buxom blonde, lovelorn, and abandoned ex-fiancee Anna (Ludivine Sagnier)
  • Leopold's sad-eyed "complicated" ex-lover Vera (Anna Thomson) who had just undergone a sex change operation

By the end of this nihilistic film, in the midst of sexual game-playing and Leopold's domination of the humiliated group as the women excitedly went to the bedroom with him after he commanded: "Everyone in the bedroom," Franz fantasized about murdering Leopold by shooting him during his threesome.

In the living room, Franz commiserated with fellow outcast Vera who soon left the bedroom (after Leopold showed a sexual preference for the younger Anna, as Franz noted: "Fresh flesh wins out"). Vera was sorrowful about her condition: "I've suffered in every way imaginable. So much sadness....I'll suffer forever...I'm his creature." She admitted that she was "starved for love" when she first met Leopold, and he was good to her and she was happy until he stopped desiring her. She admitted that when Leopold stopped loving her, she took a drastic, love-crazy measure: "I had a sex change for him, out of love for him, so he'd want me again. I was a boy and I became a woman." For awhile, the sex-change brought back his desire, but then it again died ("He made me a whore. Then he left me").

When Vera proposed to Franz: "I'm not too old for you?...Well, maybe we could try something together," he cautioned: "It's too late." He told Vera that he had suicidally taken poison and was dying. Just before expiring on the living room floor, he told her: "I'm his creature, too." As Franz died, Leopold was making vigorous love to Anna (and promising her how to easily make more money: "You''ll need to work for me"). Anna's reaction to Franz' death was: "Who'll father my children?", but Leopold calmed her by ordering her back to bed. He continued to exert his control and entrapment over an unloved and unwanted Vera when he instructed her: "Get undressed and come join us in bed," but when Vera replied, "You don't need me," he responded: "You need me" (the same words he had earlier said to Franz) - the film's final spoken line.

The trapped Vera struggled to open the apartment's sealed windows as the film ended.

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)

Blanche Was Driving the Car That Crippled Herself When She Tried to Run Baby Jane Down in the Mid-1930s; Blanche Tolerated Baby Jane's Abusive Mistreatment of Her All Her Life Due to Guilt Over the Incident; In the Final Scene at the Beach, Blanche (Before Dying?) Confessed the Decades-Old Secret to Baby Jane

This gothic psychological thriller and black comedy closed with a beach scene, where a decades-old secret (regarding a mysterious car accident) was revealed.

Former Hollywood star and invalid Blanche Hudson (Joan Crawford) told her insane, alcoholic sister and former child star "Baby" Jane (Bette Davis) the truth about the car crash accident (at their mansion's big iron gates in the mid-30s) that had paralyzed her. Originally, it was thought that Jane was drunk and at the wheel, and that she had crippled her older sister with attempted murder out of jealousy for her successful acting career.

It was now revealed that Blanche had been the one behind the wheel of the car, crippling herself with a spinal injury when she tried to run over drunken Jane before iron gates, because of the embarrassment and bad press Jane was giving Blanche. Blanche had moved out of the way just in time, but was so drunk that she didn't know what had transpired, and she thereafter blamed herself.

After being released from the guilt she'd felt over the years, Jane reacted: "You mean, all this time we could have been friends?" The film's ending echoed the beginning when Jane purchased two strawberry ice cream cones for them, and then insanely and happily spun, pirouetted and danced, drawing a curious circle of people around her to fulfill her attention-craving desires.

Two policemen asked Jane for the whereabouts of her sister Blanche: ("Won't you show us where she is, please?" "Won't you take us to her? Please, Ms. Hudson") before they discovered her for themselves lying motionless on the beach. (Whether Blanche was dead or not was left uncertain!)

What Lies Beneath (2000)

Unfaithful Dr. Norman Spencer Murdered Student Madison When She Threatened to Expose Their Affair; Madison's 'Ghost' (Beneath the Water in Her Watery Grave) Intervened To Save Imperiled Wife Claire and Drown Norman

In this Robert Zemeckis supernatural horror film, renowned college scientist Dr. Norman Spencer (Harrison Ford) was seemingly happily-married to Claire Spencer (Michelle Pfeiffer), living together in a remodeled lake-front Vermont home.

As the film progressed, Claire became haunted by paranormal beliefs. She thought that she was being contacted by the 'ghost' of her possibly-murdered neighbor Mary Feur (Miranda Otto). Her suspicions proved to be unfounded about the contentious neighbors, and a lengthy red-herring for over half of the film.

However, after other premonitions, investigative sleuthing and contact with the supernatural, she deduced that her husband's past affair with student Madison Elizabeth Frank (Amber Valletta) (with the initials MEF) ended in the young woman's death - not by her own suicide, but by murder.

Although Norman initially told Claire that Madison had died from a drug overdose, he was covering up the real reason for her death. Madison had been murdered when she had threatened to expose their affair to the school's Dean. To keep her quiet, the unfaithful husband had killed her by drowning, putting her body in her car, and submerging it in the lake. He also was conspiring to murder Claire by drugging her with a paralyzing agent and drowning her in their bathtub.

In the film's exciting conclusion, the Spencer couple struggled outside their home. Their truck drove into the water where the sunken car with the dead student's body was visible (referencing the film's title 'What Lies Beneath'). The 'ghost' of the dead student held him back during the struggle, allowing Claire to safely swim to the surface, while Norman drowned with his foot entangled.

In the final scene, Claire put a red rose on the dead student's wintry grave.

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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