Ah, the twist ending. It’s one of the most popular storytelling conventions in screenwriting. When it works, nothing beats it. When it fails, it can completely destroy the entire film. Here are a few movies you can watch on Netflix Instant that have twist endings, with varying degrees of success, though they’re all certainly worth your time — and there’s no twist to that!
The twist ending of this story of a child psychologist (Bruce Willis, in one of his best performances) and a troubled young boy who “sees dead people” (Haley Joel Osment, even better than Willis) isn’t as remarkable as the way writer-director M. Night Shyamalan so exquisitely set you up for it from the very first scene — and you didn’t even realize it. M. Night’s films have steadily gotten worse over the years, and the mentioning of his name now brings groans and chuckles from the masses, but back in 1999 — a banner year for risky, challenging and intelligent studio films — he was king.
Yeah, the eating-squid scene is pretty gross, but it’s nothing compared to the final revelation (and its shocking aftermath) of this influential revenge drama from director Chan-wook Park. After a man is released from 15 years of imprisonment in a small room with only a TV and his right hand for company, he seeks out the bastard responsible… and falls for the really, really wrong kind of woman. Love actually ends up conquering all in this ultra-dark fable, but in this case it should’ve lost — big time.
The twist ending of this erotic character study is a bit ridiculous (and pointless, and indulgent…), but before the final id-driven reveal, you at least get lots of scenes featuring Ludivine Sagnier naked and having sex. The story of the uneasy relationship between a British mystery author (Charlotte Rampling) and a promiscuous young free spirit (Sagnier) is ultimately maybe too damn French for its own good — but hey, Ludivine Sagnier naked. A lot. That goes a long way in forgiving the film of its weaker elements.
A creepy, moody little haunted house yarn featuring a house that isn’t quite haunted in the way you think it is, A Tale of Two Sisters plays out like a dark fairy tale as two young girls battle their stoic father’s manipulative new trophy wife — and takes you down rabbit holes you won’t see coming from a mile away. The American remake, The Uninvited, features a pretty good lead performance by Emily Browning and Elizabeth Banks but trades atmosphere for overblown production design — see this one instead, and prepare for some really good scares.
Not to be confused with Dark Castle’s recent Orphan, which also has a doozy of a twist, this supernatural chiller produced by Guillermo del Toro features a woman rebuilding her childhood orphanage for a facility for disabled children. Her son soon disappears, and then a kid in a creepy mask starts lurking around, and… well, you’ll just have to see it for yourself. It gets a little overblown with melodramatic flourishes every now and then, but Belen Rueda keeps it on the ground with her devastating performance as the tortured mother.