Top 10 Most Shocking Movie Endings of the 21st Century
Twist endings are a staple of movie culture and with M. Night Shyamalan's THE SIXTH SENSE they have also become more prevalent. There have been some major shocking twists over the years, but in the past fifteen years alone we have seen some incredibly messed up cinematic turn of events. Here is our ranking of the 10 most shocking endings of the 21st century (meaning only films released after the year 2000). Be wary as this list contains MAJOR SPOILERS for the films ranked. If your favorite didn't make the cut, make sure to let us know in the talk backs below.
Many have groaned that the big reveal in M. Night Shyamalan's period drama was that...it wasn't a period film at all! The Twilight Zone-esque curveball that the characters live in an isolated community in the present day but are pretending to exist in the 19th century pissed off many fans, but it was definitely a shocking turn.
Martin Scorsese's adaptation of the noir novel of the same name leads us down a twisted path at an asylum in the Northeast. We believe we are following Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo on the hunt for an escaped patient but as the labyrinthine plot unfolds, we soon realize not only is DiCaprio's character the escaped inmate, but everyone in the story is actually a doctor or a figment of his insanity. Daniels/Laeddis actually murdered his wife and is the person they have been hunting all along.
Brad Anderson's cult favorite film features one of Christian Bale's most startling physical transformations in a story of an insomniac man who begins experiencing hallucinations that he cannot explain. As the film progresses, we begin to question the main character's sanity before the ending reveals that he was responsible for a hit and run accident that killed a boy identical to the one we have seen through the movie. Trevor turns himself in and is finally able to sleep while we are left stunned at the turn of events.
Before it descended into a mockery of itself, the SAW series started with a small horror film set almost entirely in a single room with two men trying to determine who would live and who would die. While this would have made a decent film on it's own, the twist that the Jigsaw Killer was actually the "dead" body laying in the room between them the whole time caught everyone off guard, along with his true plan. Well done, James Wan and Leigh Whannel.
Christopher Nolan's breakthrough feature used the unique narrative device of telling the story in reverse, forcing us to learn twists and revelations alongside the viewer. Leonard's search for his wife's rapist and killer continues to evolve and eventually leads to us learning that the "real" killer was caught a year ago and it was his supposed friend, Teddy, who was involved with the entire thing. No one can be trusted in MEMENTO, but friends who are enemies and enemies who are friends forces you to question just who the hell is telling the truth in this brilliant movie.
Between Batman movies, Christopher Nolan made this period thriller about two rival magicians. With numerous twists and turns throughout, the ending reveals that the magic is not a trick at all but rather replicas of Hugh Jackman's character created using a machine devised by Nikola Tesla. Ooh, bet you didn't see that coming!
Ryan Reynolds career has featured some off the wall choices, but this 2010 thriller puts the focus on his acting ability as a man buried alive in a coffin slowly filling with sand. The film features many voices, one of whom is searching for Reynolds' Paul Conroy and assures him they rescued a man in a similar situation weeks before. As the film comes to a close and the rescuers get close to Paul's coffin, they reveal that it is the man "rescued" weeks before, leaving our main character to die. A downer and one hell of a gut punch.
Nicole Kidman is excellent in this period horror film that evokes movies like THE INNOCENTS and THE HAUNTING. Director Alejandro Amenabar amps up the atmospherics in a ghost story that is chilling without having to reveal much. As the film progresses, we learn that the characters are all dead and Kidman's character had smothered her children and killed herself. A nice reverse on THE SIXTH SENSE's twist in that these characters don't see dead people...they ARE dead people!
Not only one of the best twists of the last fifteen years, OLDBOY is one of the best films of the century. Park Chan-wook's film is part drama, part romance, and all mystery. Oh Dae-su, imprisoned for years, must now solve the reason for his incarceration that involves the death of a schoolmate decades before. As we learn that Oh Dae-su is not the nicest person and that part of his punishment included the woman he recently had sex with was....his daughter! The revenge and "happy" ending combine for one hell of a f*cked up ending.
Frank Darabont's adaptation of Stephen King's novella takes the monster movie to a new level and rewrites the story to include this absolutely devastating ending. The remaining survivors, piled in a car, are forced to venture into the Mist. When they run out of gas, Thomas Jane's character decides to spare everyone a horrible death and kills each of them, including his own young son. Without bullets, he is left on his own and exits the car to accept his fate. Only then does the Mist clear. If only he had waited a couple more minutes! Absolutely the most shocking ending of the last fifteen years.