One of the best aspects of cinematic storytelling is when the film ends, and you're shocked. Whether it's good or bad is up to the viewer's interpretation, but it's fun to try to wrap your mind around the finale you weren't expecting.
A group of movie buffs had an online discussion about a collection of films that left audiences equal parts intrigued and unsettled. From unexpected plot twists that defy convention to haunting revelations that linger long after the credits roll, here are some of the most surprising movie endings. Spoilers ahead.
1- 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)
10 Cloverfield Lane is a suspenseful thriller following Michelle, who wakes up in a man's underground bunker after a car accident. Captive alongside others, she's told of a catastrophic event outside, leaving the air too toxic to breathe.
Michelle's escape reveals the outside world is different from what she was led to believe—the air is breathable, and there is no evidence of a widespread attack. The audience was shocked to discover that the real threat was not chemical but extraterrestrial.
2. Martyrs (2008)
In Martyrs, a vengeful young woman's quest leads to her demise. What seems like a tale of revenge takes a harrowing turn, unveiling a clandestine society fixated on achieving a disturbing form of enlightenment through brutal suffering.
Aside from things going in a completely different direction from what you were expecting, which was for Lucie to somehow overcome the trauma she endured, the carnage was a lot for the audience to digest. In the end, no one wins, and it's terribly tragic all around.
3. Sorry To Bother You (2018)
Cassius Green's rise in the telemarketing world takes a surreal turn in Sorry To Bother You. His use of a “white voice” leads to unexpected success, revealing a distressing truth—the exploitative WorryFree company preys on workers, masking modern slavery as a path to prosperity. This twist dives deep into social commentary, leaving audiences questioning society's values and injustices.
4. From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)
Two criminal brothers on the run find sanctuary in a Mexican nightclub, only to realize that the inhabitants are bloodthirsty vampires. The shift from crime thriller to supernatural horror shocks viewers, propelling the characters to fight for their lives against the undead.
5. Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
Little Miss Sunshine follows the eccentric Hoover family on a road trip for young Olive's beauty pageant aspirations. Once onstage, Olive's routine challenges traditional pageant norms as she performs a striptease to “Super Freak.” This surprising moment contrasts with the family's struggles and emphasizes their unity, adding depth to the comedy. It also makes you question little girls participating in pageants that focus on superficial beauty, to begin with.
6. Saw (2004)
In the spine-chilling film Saw, two strangers, Adam and Dr. Gordon, awaken in a grimy bathroom, ensnared by chains and puzzles devised by the notorious Jigsaw Killer. As they grapple to escape, the shocking twist unravels—the lifeless body at their feet is the orchestrator himself. No one expected what appeared to be a dead victim to just get up at the end!
7. Swiss Army Man (2016)
Swiss Army Man is surreal as Hank befriends a corpse, Manny, with extraordinary functions. This defies the film's earlier whimsical and somewhat absurd premise, turning a seemingly lifeless character into a catalyst for profound self-discovery. The startling shift from a quirky survival tale to an exploration of human connection is both disarming and uniquely touching, leaving audiences amazed by its originality.
8. Predestination (2014)
In Predestination, the film's protagonist, revealed to be an intersex individual named Jane, travels back in time to ensure her existence. You realize at the end that Jane became her own parents, giving birth to herself after a complex series of events. Everything ends with Jane providing her younger self with the opportunity to become a time-traveling agent, thus closing the loop and solidifying the intricate time paradox.
9. Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (2006)
Grenouille, a man with the superhuman ability to smell, becomes obsessed with capturing scents to the point of being a serial killer. Once he is captured and has to face punishment for his crimes, he unleashes the signature scent he had created, which makes the crowd adore him and declare him innocent.
Realizing he'll never be loved for who he is, he goes back to the place where he was abandoned as a child, and he dumps the perfume on his head. It causes everyone around him to devour him by morning. Insane!
10. Lucy (2014)
In Lucy, the ending takes an unanticipated twist into transcendence. Throughout the film, Lucy's unlocking of her brain capacities is fascinating, but the leap into omnipresence is unexpected and grandiose. As her brain power surges to 100%, she evolves beyond physical limitations, essentially becoming a limitless, omnipresent entity.
It takes the storyline from a scientific exploration of human potential to a realm of almost god-like transformation, leaving viewers stunned by the sudden escalation and philosophical implications.
11. Mother! (2017)
The protagonist, known as Mother, struggles with her chaotic surroundings and invasive guests. She appears to be a meek woman who hardly speaks. The surprise ending lies in the apocalyptic culmination of Mother, played by Jennifer Lawrence, going on a killing spree in response to the escalating madness and destruction occurring in her house. She also becomes burned beyond recognition after setting the house on fire but is seemingly reincarnated, and the house gets restored.
12. Hereditary (2018)
Hereditary leaves audiences stunned with its unexpected ending. The film builds tension around a family plagued by eerie occurrences, primarily focusing on Annie, played by Toni Collette. As the supernatural forces escalate, the shocking twist reveals that Annie's mother was part of a cult seeking to summon a malevolent deity. The film's sudden plunge into the main characters succumbing to the evil spirits, which involves a deadly seance, leaves viewers haunted by the disturbing revelations.
13. Triangle (2009)
Triangle follows Jess as she becomes trapped in a time loop on a deserted cruise ship. It's revealed that she herself is the cause of her own torment, looping back to relive the same events. The twist is unexpected because it challenges the linear progression of events that the audience had been following. The film's early scenes establish a sense of mystery and tension, and the revelation of Jess's self-inflicted cycle introduces a new layer of complexity and intrigue.
14. You Were Never Really Here (2017)
You Were Never Really Here concludes with a contrast from the movie's grim tone. The film follows Joe, portrayed by Joaquin Phoenix, a traumatized hitman on a mission to rescue a girl. The final scenes are largely left to the viewer's imagination. This unexpected departure from explicit violence accentuates the film's psychological depth. It offers more of a contemplative ending where you're unsure if the main character overcomes or will continue a cycle of misery.
15. Jacob's Ladder (1990)
The shocking finale in Jacob's Ladder reshapes the entire narrative. Tim Robbins' character, Jacob Singer, navigates a nightmarish reality, believing he's a Vietnam War survivor. The surprise twist unveils that Jacob is actually dying on an operating table in the present time, with the entire film being a series of distorted hallucinations as his life flashes before his eyes.
This unexpected reveal transforms the film's surreal horrors into a poignant exploration of mortality and acceptance.