I’m usually not one to think too deeply about what’s going to happen at the end of a film because I like to go along for the ride. I’ll speculate sometimes, that’s part of the fun, but I’m surprised at least a good chunk of the time. It gets a little harder to be surprised all the time when you watch these movies over and over again and study the tropes and structure of the genre.
But sometimes a twist is a little too obvious. Sometimes you can see it coming a mile away and even then, it gets spelled out way too clearly. It’s also worth noting that these are not all bad movies. I love many of the flicks on this list, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t acknowledge the fact that they could have kept their final surprise wrapped in a bit more mystery.
In fact, not having a twist at all probably would have helped some of these entries. Let’s dig into some of the most painfully obvious twists the horror genre has to offer, and I’m sure there are plenty more where these came from.
John Carpenter’s last film wasn’t the triumphant return from the director that we were all hoping for. It wasn’t that it was awful. It was just mediocre and that’s not enough when we’re talking about the director of Halloween and The Thing. It’s actually a pretty creepy old-fashioned ghost story for the first half, but then it becomes clearer and clearer where it’s headed and you just want it to stop before it gets there. Worse, it doesn’t feel like a Carpenter flick at all, despite his name above the title.
The Forgotten is a movie about Julianne Moore searching for a child that everyone convinces her she never had. It’s a great concept, but I just don’t buy the execution of it at all. We’re led to believe that this might be some kind of government conspiracy, but it’s actually aliens. Of course it’s aliens. The worst part is that this could have been a great twist if they’d committed to the shock of it and not, oh I don’t know, shown us the twist in the trailer.
Psycho has maybe the most essential, perfect horror movie twist of all time. Alfred Hitchcock took great care to ensure that audiences were surprised. Psycho II has a great twist as well. It’s a hugely underrated film and, like the first, really takes the time to build to its ending in a way that feels believable. While Psycho III has some really interesting stuff in it, it just drops the ball completely when it comes to the ending. I get that they were going for trying to surprise the audience by giving them exactly what they should expect going in, but it just becomes way too obvious to work.
To this day, The Village is the only movie I’ve seen where at least half the theater audibly called the twist about halfway through. Everyone knew what was coming and then we all had to sit there in shared discomfort and pretend to be surprised. All the mystery and atmosphere is sucked out of that feature the moment you realize where it’s actually headed and then there’s just no recovery.
While I’ve never been a fan of the film, I can at least appreciate the performances given by Johnny Depp and—especially—John Tuturro. I still think that 1408 proved just a few years later that John Cusack would’ve been a great choice for this in place of Depp, but it’s not really the actor that’s the issue, it’s the fact that the ending becomes really clear pretty much from the get-go. You can see where this is going almost immediately.
Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning
I love A New Beginning, I really do. And the first time I saw it I was surprised, I’ll admit, but it wasn’t a good surprise. I was just enraged. When you step back and look at it, the killer is painfully obvious. He’s the only person they really try to set up as the antagonist because they can’t fully commit to the character they clearly want to be the killer, which is Tommy. I’m a little grateful for that, though, because I like Tommy’s return as a hero in Jason Lives.
I Still Know What You Did Last Summer
Maybe the studio was too heavily set on the assumption that the audience for this movie would be nothing but stupid teenagers, because the twist is entirely dependent on you knowing nothing about basic geography. The whole plot revolves around ultimately realizing that the characters did not win a vacation to Brazil because Rio is, in fact, not the capital as they had guessed on a radio show. It also has the most amazingly ridiculous killer reveal ever, with Will Benson AKA “Ben’s son!”