What's your favorite aspect of a film? For countless film buffs, it's that precise moment when all of your preconceived notions about where the story is going are dispelled. The characters may act in unsuspected ways, an outcome occurs as a result of a character's actions, or everything turns out to be other than what it seemed. No matter how it plays out, there's something to be said for pulling off a successful ruse.
1 – Infinity Pool (2022)
Set in a remote paradise resort, Infinity Pool initially appears to offer relaxation and escape. However, as the guests indulge in the idyllic setting, they discover that they're trapped in a nightmarish time loop. The once-serene atmosphere becomes suffocating as the loop brings their past mistakes, regrets, and suppressed desires to the surface. This dark twist forces them to confront their inner demons, ultimately blurring the line between reality and a never-ending cycle of emotional torment.
2 – Possessor (2020)
In a future where assassins use advanced brain-implant technology to take control of people's bodies, Possessor follows Tasya Vos, an elite assassin. She's tasked with a particularly challenging mission involving the wealthy Colin Tate. However, as she infiltrates Colin's mind, the lines between her identity and her target begin to blur. In a disturbing twist ending, a psychological battle ensues between Tasya and Colin for control over the body, leading to a disturbing exploration of the consequences of identity manipulation.
3 – Under The Silver Lake (2018)
At first glance, Under the Silver Lake seems like a mystery thriller about a man searching for a missing woman. Yet, as the protagonist uncovers a network of cryptic symbols and hidden messages in Los Angeles, the plot takes a surreal turn when the narrative shifts from a straightforward investigation to an unsettling exploration of obsession, paranoia, and the blurred boundary between reality and conspiracy.
4 – Pi (1998)
In Pi, a mathematician becomes obsessed with finding patterns and hidden meanings in the stock market. As he delves deeper into his research, he stumbles upon a mysterious number with seemingly supernatural significance. His obsession spirals into paranoia, hallucination, and a dangerous pursuit by various factions seeking the truth behind the number.
The film explores the thin line between genius and madness, the consequences of unchecked curiosity, and the disintegration of the protagonist's grasp of reality. Pi‘s dark twist leads to a mind-bending exploration of mathematical obsession and the chaos that can arise from unlocking hidden knowledge.
5 – Aniara (2018)
Aniara introduces viewers to a post-apocalyptic world where humanity has boarded a spaceship, Aniara, to escape Earth's destruction. What initially seems like a straightforward narrative of survival in space takes on a more menacing tone as the passengers grapple with existential despair and nihilism. As the voyage stretches on and hope dwindles, the once-promising journey transforms into an exploration of the human psyche's response to isolation, leading to a chilling realization of the ultimate futility of their efforts.
6 – Jacob's Ladder (1990)
Jacob's Ladder revolves around Vietnam War veteran Jacob Singer, whose life descends into a nightmarish cycle of hallucinations and disturbing visions. The brutal twist lies in the revelation that Jacob's experiences are a product of his own dying mind. The film crafts an unsettling narrative that blurs the lines between reality and delusion, making the audience question the true nature of Jacob's existence and the boundary between life and death.
7 – Mad God (2021)
Mad God is an animated film that immerses viewers in a surreal and grotesque world. As the protagonist journeys through nightmarish landscapes filled with strange creatures and unsettling visuals, the dark twist emerges in an exploration of the human subconscious. The film's visual style and thematic content create a haunting experience, blurring the lines between the conscious and unconscious mind.
8 – Coherence (2013)
Coherence begins as a simple gathering among friends during a passing comet. However, as strange occurrences and anomalies disrupt the party, everyone in attendance realizes something is amiss. With the revelation that their alternate realities are intersecting, the characters' relationships become strained as paranoia sets in. The narrative transforms into a mind-bending exploration of the consequences of colliding dimensions, emphasizing the fragile nature of human perception and relationships.
9 – Time Crimes (2007)
In Time Crimes, a man accidentally travels back in time, setting off a series of paradoxes involving multiple versions of himself. After becoming entangled in an intricate web of events, he realizes that his actions inadvertently triggered the events he's trying to prevent. This time loop, fueled by unintended consequences, creates a suspenseful narrative that challenges the protagonist's understanding of cause and effect.
10 – Videodrome (1983)
At its surface, Videodrome explores the dangers of consuming violent media. However, things take a turn when the protagonist becomes increasingly intertwined with a mysterious television broadcast that blurs the boundaries between reality and hallucination. As he delves deeper into this surreal world, his body mutates, forcing him to confront the disturbing consequences of his obsession with the broadcast.
11 – The Wicker Man (1973)
The Wicker Man initially presents itself as a detective story, with a police officer investigating the disappearance of a young girl on a remote island. The dark twist is revealed when the officer uncovers the island's disturbing pagan cult, leading to a shocking climax that challenges traditional notions of morality, religion, and societal norms.
12 – The Machinist (2004)
In The Machinist, an insomniac factory worker descends into paranoia and hallucinations, questioning the reality of his experiences. The bleak twist lies in the revelation that his mental deterioration is tied to a traumatic event from his past. As the story unfolds, it becomes a harrowing exploration of guilt, psychological trauma, and the impact your actions have on your psyche.
13 – The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017)
The Killing of a Sacred Deer follows a surgeon who forms an increasingly unsettling connection with a teenage boy. As the boy reveals his sinister intentions, the surgeon is forced to make agonizing choices that challenge his morality and push him to extreme lengths in a disturbing exploration of justice and revenge.
14 – District 9 (2009)
Initially introduced as a science fiction narrative centered around the plight of extraterrestrial refugees, District 9 takes a dramatic turn as the protagonist, after encountering alien biotechnology, undergoes a startling metamorphosis into an extraterrestrial entity. This transformation symbolizes the dehumanization of marginalized groups.
15 – Never Let Me Go (2010)
In a dystopian society, Never Let Me Go portrays the lives of three friends who discover that they were created for the sole purpose of donating organs. The dark twist lies in the realization that their predestined lives are devoid of any true agency, raising questions about the ethics of science, the value of life, and the implications of a society built on dehumanization.
16 – Sorry To Bother You (2018)
Sorry to Bother You follows a telemarketer's rise through a bizarre company, uncovering a dark corporate conspiracy involving labor exploitation and a surreal transformation of the workforce. However, the protagonist's success comes at the cost of his own humanity, raising themes of capitalism, commodification, and the dehumanizing effects of unchecked corporate power.
17 – Adaptation (2002)
Adaptation takes a meta approach, blurring the lines between fiction and reality as it follows a struggling screenwriter's attempts to adapt a novel. As he becomes increasingly entangled in the world he's creating, the boundaries between his personal life and the story he's crafting begin to blur. The film's darkly comedic narrative twist about identity challenges the nature of creativity, artistic integrity, and the thin line between inspiration and obsession.
18 – Last Night in Soho (2021)
Last Night in Soho tackles the psychological toll of nostalgia and the consequences of idealizing the past. The film transports a young woman's dreams to the 1960s, a seemingly glamorous era. As she becomes more deeply immersed in the past, the line between dream and reality becomes disturbingly thin, revealing a haunting and dangerous underbelly of a bygone era.
19 – The Lighthouse (2019)
In The Lighthouse, isolation, supernatural forces, and madness converge to create a dark and unsettling atmosphere. As two lighthouse keepers struggle to maintain their sanity, the boundary between reality and hallucination becomes increasingly elusive. The dark twist lies in the gradual descent into madness, highlighting the fragility of the human mind and the eerie power of isolation.
20 – Naked Lunch (1991)
Naked Lunch navigates a writer's surreal and nightmarish odyssey ensnared by addiction and hallucination. The unsettling revelation emerges as he sinks deeper into a realm inhabited by grotesque creatures, malevolent organizations, and unsettling occurrences. The film intricately melds the boundaries separating the protagonist's firsthand encounters from the constructs of his writing, culminating in a disorienting exploration of the intricacies of creativity, the allure of addiction, and the enigmatic aspects of reality itself.
21 – Mulholland Drive (2001)
Mulholland Drive immerses viewers in a dreamlike narrative that takes a dark and twisted turn. What begins as an aspiring actress's pursuit of fame in Los Angeles morphs into a mind-bending exploration of identity, desire, and the illusion of Hollywood success. As reality and fantasy intertwine, the dark twist unveils a sinister undercurrent beneath the glamorous surface.
22 – Existenz (1999)
Existenz delves into the blurred boundaries between reality and virtual reality in a future where a video game designer creates an immersive experience that challenges players' perceptions. The dark twist unfolds as the characters become increasingly unable to distinguish between the game and the real world. This narrative ambiguity raises questions about the nature of consciousness, identity, and the consequences of blurring the lines between digital and physical existence.
23 – Vanilla Sky (2001)
Vanilla Sky follows a man whose life takes a surreal turn after a disfiguring car accident. He struggles to separate dreams, memories, and reality, which leads him through a maze of shifting perspectives. The film digs into themes of who we are, dealing with regrets, and the unsettling results of blurring the lines between our inner thoughts and the outside world.
24 – Enemy (2013)
Enemy revolves around a man (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) who becomes deeply unsettled after discovering his exact lookalike, setting off a psychological struggle that uncovers a shocking revelation. As the boundaries between the two characters blur, a haunting connection emerges, pushing the protagonist to confront his own desires and fears.
Jaimee Marshall is a culture writer, avid movie buff, and political junkie. She spends the bulk of her time watching and critiquing films, writing political op-eds, and dabbling in philosophy. She has a Communication Studies degree from West Chester University of Pennsylvania, where she flirted with several different majors before deciding to pursue writing. As a result, she has a diverse educational background, having studied economics, political science, psychology, business admin, rhetoric, and debate.
At Wealth of Geeks, Jaimee places an emphasis on film and television analysis, ranking the best [and worst] in media so you can find more diamonds in the rough and waste less time on box-office duds. You can find her articles on politics and culture in Evie Magazine, Katie Couric Media, Lotus Eaters, and Her Campus. You can also find her find her episode of Popcorned Planet, where she analyzes the Johnny Depp & Amber Heard trial. She has written extensively about due process, free speech, and pop culture.