A twisted post.

There’s an old saying in close up magic that says “People like being fooled”. This always seemed kind of false to me, as if it was a lame attempt by magicians to justify their craft to the world as foolin’ for foolin’s sake. However, if you take this in mind and quickly scan through the imdb top 250 (or any even remotely credible source for some of the most critically acclaimed and popular films), you might be led to believe that people really do like being fooled. 

I’m talking of course about SHOCKING PLOT TWISTS. I love ’em as much as you do. You saw my post here, I sat through goddamn Saw V. If I didn’t need food and education, all I would do is watch Twilight Zone episodes. Many of my favorite films also have some kind of twist ending element to them as well. I also think that a twist alone is not enough to make a film good, and that many beloved films are liked artificially because of how they were able to pull one over on us. 

If you want to see a beautiful example of how a twist can destroy an otherwise good movie, check out High Tension, or Haute Tension for those of us who prefer crepes to freedom. It starts off as somewhat derivative, but viscerally and emotionally one of the best horror films of the last five years. In the last 20 minutes or so it tries to take a stab at being clever, as if they didn’t have enough faith in their own writing to continue on normally. It’s absolutely horrendous, and worth seeing just for how bad it becomes after a promising start. 

I’ll resist pointing a twisted finger at my not so good pal M. Night Shymalan, since he probably deserves his own post about how amazingly awful his movies have become. I think it will have to be accompanied by a graph of some sort, in order to visually demonstrate the decline without needing to invoke metaphors about cliffs and the Marianas Trench. 

To me, the best plot twists are the ones that outwit both the audience and one or more characters in the story. Although I did take a cheap shot at M. Night, the Sixth Sense is a good example of this. It’s when the twists are completely manipulation on the director’s part that I start to get a little weary. I’m thinking now of Lost… that show you either love to death or don’t watch. Skip the next paragraph if you haven’t seen one of the first episodes in season 1. Ah screw it, i’ll just talk around it.

One of my favorite episodes from what i’ve seen of lost (not a whole lot, by the way) was the first Locke flashback episode, where we discover something shocking about him. The thing is, this is absolutely no surprise to Locke himself, and the only reason it’s hidden from us, the viewer, is to make sure that we have that “ohhhh” moment as the music swells up and we see the big dramatic reveal. There’s no authentic reason to do it this way, it’s just the show jerking you around. Of course, the whole premise of Lost is a show that jerks you around, so people don’t seem to mind. It’s not a dramatic plot twist if placing the camera a few feet in a different direction will tip the gaff.

The worst thing is I totally loved that episode the first time I saw it. A movie with a twisted plot that breaks the traditional structure or rules of cinema can be really enjoyable as well as really innovative. It can also be really gimmicky, though effective… hence the dilemma. 

Now I must go. Oh and guess what… this whole post was written on Wednesday night, not Thursday afternoon. It was written out of sequence, on a candy high from M&Ms, and painfully reconstructed for you just now. It was also written without pants on. Betcha didn’t expect that. Fooled you, did I? Good. Now digg this page or something because it was awesome.


5 Responses to “A twisted post.”

  1. 1 Jolly Roger
    November 13, 2008 at 5:34 pm

    I would have to respectfully disagree when it comes to the plot twist in High Tension.

    The whole time I was watching the film I was thinking to myself how odd and bizarre the relationship was between these two girls was, I also wondered why the captured girl gave so much resistance to being rescued by the other… in the end you know what happen so I won’t spoil it for anyone reading this who hasn’t seen the film; but I thought it unique that the few questions rolling in the back of my mind throughout the picture were answered right at the end, in a completely unexpected way.

    Personally I think if all ‘twists’ were the same, or even followed the same set of rules, they would stop becoming twists and start becoming organized/predictable plot. Sometimes the different have to be appreciated for just what they are… different. Hell that’s what makes so many campy B-movies great!

  2. 2 reddingmineshaft
    November 13, 2008 at 6:29 pm

    Hm, I’m glad to see someone enjoyed that High Tension twist. I found myself left with questions after the ending instead of having questions throughout. I felt that the first 30 minutes was incredibly strong though. Despite my problems with the ending, Aja is still a promising horror director. I see you liked his remake of the hills have eyes. I only saw it the one time in theaters, but it ruled.

    I should clarify that I definitely don’t think all plot twists should be the same, or even follow the same set of rules. I think that the better ones are the ones that are somehow worked into one or more characters that the audience is made to fall into the same trap with. This post was supposed to be more about how movies with plot twists are usually thought of as innately better, whereas I’m not sure they are.

    Thanks for your response though!

  3. 3 Jolly Roger
    November 14, 2008 at 9:14 am

    Well, I couldn’t agree with that last point more…

  4. 4 AchillesAnkle
    November 15, 2008 at 12:00 am

    “…check out High Tension, or Haute Tension for those of us who prefer crepes to freedom. ”

    hahaha! OH the french!

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