The Horror Honeys: The Things the Love of a Mad Man Can Do...

The Things the Love of a Mad Man Can Do...

Best Revenge Film Twist Endings: A Revenge Honey Top 5

In recent years, the twist ending has become somewhat of a horror/thriller cliche, thanks to a certain hack director that shall remain nameless, as well as his certain crap movie about a creepy kid who sees dead people but doesn't bother to help a brother out and tell him that he's dead (dick.) Once upon a time, however, the "shock" ending was something truly remarkable to behold, as evidenced by films such as Psycho and Chinatown: easily two of the best twists in cinema history.

This week, I decided to pay tribute to five of my all-time favorite revenge film twist endings. Two of these films, I am sure that most of you have seen, while three of them are perhaps a little less known. Yet, every one of them is truly remarkable example of an exceptional twist that manages to hold up even with repeated viewings. (And before any of you jump all over my jock, the only reason I didn't include Oldboy is because we all know it, we've all talked about it, we know it's great, so I think at this point, it goes without saying that it's a classic. We can move on now.)


Revenge Honey Note: These films ARE in a particular order, so keep that in mind while reading! I'm also going to avoid spoilers as much as possible for those of you who haven't seen the films.


5) Primal Fear (1996) - When Primal Fear came out in 1996, it had everything going for it. Courtroom thrillers were huge, the pedophilia scandals rocking the Catholic Church were massively topical, and Richard Gere was still a sex god. The one dark horse in Primal Fear was Edward Norton, a still basically unknown actor making his feature film debut as Aaron Stampler, an abused altar boy with a split personality who murdered the Archbishop of New York. As his lawyer, Gere is torn between representing Stampler to the best of his ability and yet, questioning the veracity of his story. The twist in Primal Fear has since become more common, but anyone who pretends that this movie didn't blow their fucking balls of the first time is full of crap. And I genuinely believe Norton has never outdone his first starring performance as Stampler, one of the greatest villains (?) of all time.


4) Memento (2000) - Christopher and Jonathan Nolan are absolute geniuses. This is a fact that pretty much everyone accepts by now, but when Memento came out, it was relatively new information. The plot of Memento alone was unusual: a man (played by the delicious Guy Pierce) with anterograde amnesia attempts to seek revenge for the rape and murder of his wife by taking polaroids and tattooing clues on his body to combat his inability to form new memories. But then the film was also shown in reverse chronological order, rendering the audience as lost as Pierce. The concept of showing a film out of a traditional narrative order wasn't new (La Jetee, Je t'aime, Je t'aime, Twelve Monkeys), but what made Memento such a standout film for me was the ending. There is no better twist than one that makes perfect sense, but still destroys everything you thought you knew about what came before.


3) The Secret in their Eyes (2009) - The next three films aren't from North America for a reason: South America and Europe know how to frigging kill twist endings. The Secret in their Eyes was an Oscar-winning Argentinian thriller that doubled as a brilliant political allegory for the almost ten years of genocide that happened in the country from the 70s to the 80s. The film tells the story of a judge and detective who are still attempting to solve the murder of a woman who was killed in 1975. Tensely and smartly structured, while there may be no question who committed the murder for much of the film, the ending will absolutely catch you off guard. There is a reason it won the Oscar for best Foreign Language film.



2) The Vanishing (1988) - Prior to 2011, The Vanishing was the clear gold standard in revenge twist endings. The Dutch film, directed by George Sluizer, introduces us to young couple, Rex and Saskia, while they on vacation in France. While stopped for gas, Saskia simply disappears, and Rex spends the next three years frantically searching for her. Rex's hunt for his lost girlfriend is interspersed with scenes of the man that took her: a family man/sociopath who just wanted to know what it would feel like to murder a woman. This is one of those movies that is almost ruined if someone spoils the ending for you, because it is so utterly shocking and dark. Like the French film Martyrs, I had to take a long, mind-clearing walk after I saw it for the first time. The Vanishing is truly one of the best revenge films ever made, that somehow still manages to exemplify how revenge can go horribly wrong.



1) The Skin I Live In (2011) - When I first saw the trailers for this Pedro Almodóvar film, I dismissed it as a ripoff of Georges Franju's Eyes Without a Face, which is one of my favorite movies of all time. However, when I finally sat down and watched it, I was utterly and completely blown away. Not only was Skin one of the most effective body horror films I've ever seen, but it features THE most epic revenge twist I have ever seen in a film in my life. The lengths that Antonio Banderas' Dr. Ledgard goes to by which to avenge his daughter's rape are so utterly insane and brilliant, that it's impossible not admire his evil genius. The Skin I Live In is sick and twisted and by far the most genius revenge twist I've seen in ever, guys. In ever. And that is saying something.

2015 New Addition!

The Best Offer (2013): From Italy, Giuseppe Tornatore's film about a master auctioneer (Geoffrey Rush) who becomes obsessed with a reclusive heiress, is one of the best films I've ever seen. But Tornatore's script is so perfect and so engaging, that I was utterly lost in the movie's language. And because of that, I didn't remotely see The Best Offer's final twist coming. Beautiful, elegant, unhinged, and terrifying at its basest level, The Best Offer will leave you spellbound and desperate to watch it again and again.