I remember the first time I watched The Others in the cinema. (how I miss going there…)
It was an awesome experience. Not only because the horror/thriller film was excellently shot with really good actors, but because it played with shadows and your mind in an elegant but unforgiving way. It was your standard haunted house story. We follow the main characters as they are frightened the more they realize they are being haunted. More and more, the pressure from the ghosts increases, and living in the house becomes stifling, terrifying, unbearable- and then, when things seem to swell into even more horror, when everything is at its most intense to resolve the mystery- there came the twist.
The main characters weren't being haunted by ghosts. They were the ghosts. They were the ones haunting a poor (living) family that had just moved into the house.
And just like that, everything we've lived through in the movie takes on a different meaning, simply because of the different perspective that the twist puts them in. All the mysteries are resolved. All the story is now reset, and we feel the calmness, the satisfaction of knowing what is going on.
That's the beauty of a good twist ending, or a climax that is also the major twist in the story.
There are many ways to build such a twist. Primarily, this kind of thing usually can't be improvised. To pull a good twist off, you need to know the plot start to finish, and understand what is going on so that the way the plot is presented can be set up for the twist:
1. You need to know what the true plot is
2. You need to know what part of the plot can plausibly be construed to be something else
3. You need to know how to arrange the plot progression so that this alternative situation is set up as the real one for the audience
4. You need to know when and where in the plot to place the twist that clarifies the situation and reveals the truth.
If you do it right, most people will genuinely not see the twist coming. Mostly because when we watch a movie or read a webcomic, we trust the creator to take us on a journey. Unless the narrator is shown to be unreliable, we tend to accept what we're told as true. Some people in the audience will see through the setup and guess the twist. And that's great! It means the story is solid. (Like The Sixth Sense)
If you don't do it right, people will either not see the twist coming, and not buy the twist reveal. (This is where the Shyamalan gif comes in. He's done both.) But in order not to do a twist ending right, you need to either allow the story to be really formulaic, or not take the time to set up the twist by dropping hints and little insights that make the story reframe in a logical manner if the twist is known (like Signs…).
Bottom line: just like a good whodunnit's culprit, you need to plan the story ahead in order to pull a solid twist ending.
What are some twist endings you really like?
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Tantz_Aerine at 12:00AM, Feb. 19, 2022
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