Calista’s Cinema Conversations: Movies with unexpected endings


"Gert Out" is one of those movies with a very surprising ending. (Hulu/screenshot)

“Gert Out” is one of those movies with a very surprising ending. (Hulu/screenshot)

There have been a few surprising films I have seen lately, one in particular being the Oscar-winning film “Get Out,” so I decided to dedicate this week’s conversation to movies with surprising endings.

Crime classics like “The Usual Suspects,” “Se7en,” “Shutters Island” and “Fight Club” usually hinge on an unreliable narrator. A narrator is someone who the audience is supposed to trust to give information throughout the film. If there is not an unreliable narrator, as in the film “Se7en” or “Shutters Island,” the narrator’s emotions or knowledge of what is happening around them is skewed. Some of these films will leave the audience wondering what happened even when they leave the theatre. This element of film is known as a cliff-hanger and is usually used in tandem with a surprise-ending film.

Horror-esque films like “Get Out,” “The Visit,” “The Mist,” “The Sixth Sense,” “Orphan,” “The Others” and “Psycho” all focus around one or two specific characters as they try to explain the strange occurrences that affect their day to day life. The directors of these films use the elements of horror films, such as jump-scares or an eerie soundtrack, to enhance the creepiness and mystery of the film. The endings of these films tend to focus on a culmination of everything the protagonist or narrator has learned mixed with the information the audience has been given without the protagonist or narrator’s knowledge, helping the audience come to one final, shocking revelation.

Dramatic films like “Gone Girl,” “Atomic Blonde” and “Planet of the Apes” use a specific traumatic or important event to get the ball rolling. This event will be the base-point of every character’s side of the story. As in “Gone Girl,” the audience sees the disappearance of a wife in a happy marriage from two different views: one from the husband who is accused of the crime, and the other from the wife who is missing. In “Atomic Blonde,” we see the points of view of two double agents that are working together on a mission. In “Planet of the Apes,” there is a view from the apes and humans perspective of a world where humans are enslaved by apes.

Other films that are not really in a category are “Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince” and “Frozen.” Though these films do not exactly fall under the usual format of surprise-ending films, they have a point in the plot that is unforeseen by the audience.

An unpredictable film will usually contain the elements of an untrustworthy or unknowing narrator, different points of view from different characters, use of thematic elements found in a genre of films such as horror or crime to further the suspense and an intriguing plot that does not give away the plot twist until the end.

Calista Giroux is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at

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