A Slasher Honey (Rant-y) Worst Twists List: Part 1
I made a new friend the other week, and the first thing we bonded over was a love of horror films. This, of course, turned into a conversation about film twists, and some of our favorites. And then we started talking about what separates the great twists from the bad ones. That last one really made me think. Why do some work and others just flop? I’m still not sure I have the answer to that, but it did give me an idea. I try to never post twists and spoilers in reviews, so I don’t often get to talk about my feelings regarding twists in most films. So from time to time, I’m going to put together lists of my favorite twists and least favorite twists, and see if I can discover an answer to some of these questions.
Four is my favorite number. It was the number on the back of my jersey for most of my sports years, it was the year I graduated high school, and I do everything, organize everything in fours. It’s my lucky number. So as an FYI, my lists will most often be in fours.
*** Obviously, spoilers abound ***
Saw V - The Glass Box Non-Twist: As we all well know, this is a series known for its twist endings. It’s also what kept people enjoying the franchise so long. So, it’s no surprise that the one movie without even so much as a semblance of a twist would be the most wildly disliked film in the series. The whole movie is a cat and mouse game of Strahm trying to catch Hoffman, and all the other fallacies in this instalment might have been forgiven if it had all been leading up to a great twist. So, how did it all end? With Strahm not listening to Hoffman, fighting with Hoffman, and then… dying? The whole movie established that Hoffman was out for blood and that Strahm was never going to stop going after him. So, nothing was surprising about either character's behavior in the final scene. The only thing applicable about the tagline “You won’t believe how it ends” is that you won’t believe there’s a Saw death that manages to be the most graphic one of all in the midst of a shockingly disappointing ending.
I Still Know What You Did Last Summer - Will Benson/Will, Ben’s Son: What’s the first rule of horror movies? Okay, maybe not the first rule, but the golden rule? One of these things is not like the other, one of these things just doesn’t belong? It definitely applies here. Pro tip: in a revenge slasher, with a group of people stranded together with a killer on the loose in whodunit style, you can bet your sweet butt that the killer is always, ALWAYS the one who doesn’t fit in with the rest of the group, and/or the one who doesn’t really have a legitimate reason to be there. So, of course when our heroine Julie receives a free getaway trip, the people she invites (and who are thus around when the murders start) are her best friend Karla which makes perfect sense, Karla’s boyfriend who is really good friends with Julie - again, understandable, and… some random guy named Will who has been basically stalking Julie and who Julie has no interest in. Because inviting a guy to go away with you is exactly what you want to do when you’re trying to get him to understand that you’re not into him. At all.
It was obvious that Will was going to be the killer because, as the song goes, he’s the one that doesn’t belong. And the “twist” that he’s Ben Willis’s son and they planned the whole fake vacation thing to get revenge on Julie makes less than zero sense. Instead of doing all this elaborate stuff, why not just continue stalking Julie on campus until you get her alone, and just kill her? Why the trip to the deserted island? Why drag Karla and her boyfriend into it? And what, really, are the odds of Julie and the son of the man she’s been living in fear of for so long, ending up at the same university? There are just so many elements of this nonsensical twist that still infuriate me, despite this still being an enjoyable movie.
Although, it’s worth mentioning that had this movie come about ten or fifteen years later, it would have been an awesome “screw you” to “nice guy” and “friendzoning” arguments.
Orphan - Esther is not actually a child: Okay, let’s think this through for a minute. Let’s say this was real life. These are little kids we’re talking about. And here’s what the twist of the film reveals to us: nobody at any of the agencies involved or the home involved ever put two and two together that Esther wasn’t really who she appeared to be. Vera Farmiga’s character makes a few phone calls and does the absolute minimal research and is able to get into contact with someone who can reveal to her that Esther is not really a child and is in fact a homicidal maniac. And, for the sake of the plot, we, the audience are supposed to believe that the same individuals in charge of investigating potential parents, don’t even know the children they’re responsible for enough to know any of this, anything she’s done, just so it can be a big old ending twist at the end.
Fear Island - Jenna Is Really Megan: Revenge Honey Linnie has already touched on this one, and how is straight up stole from The Usual Suspects with the plot being that the main character telling the story to the cops is really secretly the murderer, and that’s bad enough. But I have a different problem with it.
Not only that, but the twist in and of itself was pretty lame. By the time you get to that point in the movie, you’re so exhausted and exasperated by completely one dimensional, worthless characters that you don’t even care. Certainly not enough to suspend your disbelief enough to buy that this ditzy chick could outsmart some detectives.
What slasher twist do YOU hate?