Calista’s Cinema Conversations: Misleading films

Have you ever walked into a film expecting one thing only to have the film completely defy those expectations? Has there ever been a film that you weren’t sure what it was supposed to be about until you actually saw the film? For me, there have been quite a few movies where I did not know what to expect when I walked into the theater. So, this week’s conversation will be dedicated to some of the most misleading films, regardless of whether the films are positively or negatively ambiguous. As the conversation is about films where the endings are shocking or unexpected, there will be spoilers.

A classic and overused example of this is M. Night Shyamalan's “The Sixth Sense” where a psychologist tries to help a young boy who claims he can see ghosts cope with his supernatural ability. In the end, the psychologist discovers that he himself is dead and that the young boy is speaking to him through his “sixth sense” (hence the movie’s title).

Since this 1999 film, Shyamalan has done many other films with twist endings, such as his recent movies “Split” and its sequel “Glass.” In “Glass,” actor James McAvoy plays Kevin Wendell Crumb, a man who develops 24 personalities after suffering through a traumatizing childhood. After kidnapping a group of girls in order to sacrifice them to Kevin’s superhuman personality called the Beast, he is stopped by a man with inhuman strength named David Dunn. The two are then captured and brought to a psychiatric hospital where they meet a man named Elijah Price, or Mr. Glass. Throughout the entire film, the audience believes that psychiatrist Ellie Staple is trying to help them in some way, but in the end she makes the call for all three of them to be killed, which came as a shock to audiences who had become invested in the characters’ lives.

Yet another M. Night Shyamalan surprise came from the film “The Visit,” which centers on a brother and sister who decide to visit their grandparents for the first time. Though audiences expected the film to be a horror-esque thriller movie about two murderous grandparents, what threw them for a loop was that their “grandparents” were not actually their grandparents at all. Audiences were left dumbfounded when the mother of the siblings freaks out and reveals that the two had been staying with two escaped psychiatric hospital patients for the entire visit.

Another director that skillfully challenges expectations is Jordan Peele and his two recent films “Get Out” and “Us.” Because “Us” is still extremely new and you can still see it in theaters, I do not want to spoil it, but do recommend the film highly. “Get Out” takes the scary idea of meeting your significant other’s parents to a whole new level when the protagonist Chris meets his girlfriend’s parents. He finds that some of the people he has met while staying at her house are acting strange and suspects some form of racism is involved. While trying to figure out what is happening, Chris discovers that his girlfriend’s parents auctioned his body off to someone from the neighborhood and plan to suppress his consciousness in order for the auction winner to take over Chris’ body and be young again.

Although I focused on mainly positively-received examples of films that were made to misdirect audiences, there are many more positive and negative examples out there.


Calista Giroux is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at calista.giroux@gmail.com.