The devastating final-act twist has long been a defining characteristic of the horror genre. The bloody vaults of cinema are littered with far more chilling twists than we could list. From Hitchcock classic Psycho (1960) to M. Night Shyamalan’s iconic The Sixth Sense (1999) audiences never tire of a quality ‘about face’.
New shocker Pet is the next title set to stake its own place on the list. The film sees Dominic Monaghan (Lord of the Rings trilogy, Lost) star as Seth, a lonely man working in an animal shelter. His monotonous routine is broken one day when he bumps into Holly, a girl he knew from school who he soon becomes obsessed with. When she rejects his advances, Seth’s obsession reaches a terrifying new level and things escalate towards a jaw-dropping finale.
To celebrate the UK release of Pet we take a tour through five of the most mind-blowing shocks served up over the years… but reader, be warned, here be spoilers!
Sleepaway Camp (1983)
This cult film features possibly the most unforeseeable twist in horror history. Initially plodding along in solid but formulaic slasher fashion, the movie eventually serves up a bloody denouement that’s not soon forgotten… Sleepaway Camp tells the story of traumatized-teen Angela and her young cousin who go away for summer camp. Of course, this being an eighties summer horror flick, it’s not long before the bodies start to drop. In the film’s very last shot it’s revealed that (gasp!) Angela herself was the killer all along. However, that’s not the twist that marks this classic as one of the greats…
SPOILER ALERT! The film’s truly shocking revelation is that Angela is actually a boy. You see, Angela’s not actually Angela, she’s really the thought-to-be-dead brother, Peter. The real Angela was killed in an accident and her Aunt raised Peter as the little girl she’d always wanted. No one saw that one coming!
Wes Craven’s legendary Scream was something of a slow burner when it was first released over the Christmas holiday season in 1996. It wasn’t long before good word of mouth spread and the film earned a box office return that was seven times the film’s $14 million budget, making it one of the most successful horrors or all item and a modern classic. Scream follows Sidney Prescott, a high school student who becomes the target of a mysterious killer in a now iconic‘ Ghostface’ mask. The film is a pastiche that satires clichés of the horror genre while frequently referencing its influences, particularly in the twist ending that delighted in flipping genre stereotypes on their head.
SPOILER ALERT! When Ghostface kills the prime suspect, Sidney’s boyfriend Billy, the audience assumes he was innocent all along. It turns out that Billy, along with his accomplice Stu, faked his death using corn syrup (referencing Brian De Palma’s Carrie) and they are both responsible for the murder-spree, claiming that the movies made them do it.
The Others (2001)
Alejandro Amenabar’s supernatural horror film The Others received praise for both Nicole Kidman’s chilling performance and the screenplay, which was nominated for numerous awards. Grace (Kidman) lives in a huge, empty mansion on a secluded island with her two photosensitive children. As strange events occur, Grace becomes increasingly convinced her family home is haunted.
SPOILER ALERT! The clever twist at the end of the film revealed that Grace, overcome with grief for her missing husband and isolated by the children’s condition, lost her mind, smothered her children and shot herself. The true ghosts were, in fact, Grace and her children all along… the ‘spirits’ we observed actually being the current living occupiers of Grace’s old home.
The Ring (2002)
This film kick-started a period of Hollywood remakes of Japanese horrors, with the likes of The Grudge, Dark Water and Pulse coming in its wake. The Ring follows a journalist, Rachel (Naomi Watts) as she investigates a seemingly cursed videotape, which appears to cause the death of anyone who watches it within a week. After sceptically viewing the accursed article, Rachel and her friend Noah must uncover the truth behind the tape before their seven days are up. The film’s twist ending sees the audience believe that Rachel has beaten the curse – after she uncovers the truth about its creator – terrifying ghost-girl Samara.
SPOILER ALERT! However, it transpires that the curse was not broken but passed on to Noah, who comes to an unfortunate demise. Rachel soon realises that the curse can be passed on by making a copy, and in doing so she saves her son (who has also seen the videotape). When he asks what will happen to the person they give the tape to, Rachel remains silent…
Arguably the most popular and well-known horror franchise in history, early entries in the Saw chronology had clever and intricate plots as well as shocking violence and gore. This is most evident in the first offering when two strangers wake up chained to the walls of a locked basement bathroom with a corpse in between them and no memory of how they got there. Adam and Lawrence soon discover that they are pawns in a deadly game invented by the notorious ‘Jigsaw’ serial killer.
After finding tapes they are each given a task to secure their survival: Adam must find a way to escape; Lawrence must kill Adam by 6pm or his wife and daughter will be killed.
SPOILER ALERT! Witnessing Lawrence hack off his own foot in order to escape will leave you reeling, but the knockout punch comes when the corpse in the centre of the room suddenly stands, revealing himself as the true mastermind of the gruesome plot.
Discover Pet’s shocking twist for yourself on Digital from 6th March and DVD & Blu-ray on 13th March