Kudos to Jami for defining a good twist. I'll add that it has to make you gasp (just a little bit) and exclaim "What?!". As you can see below, I spend a lot of my time doing both.
Spoiler alerts are implied (even if I don't spoil every single one of these stories).
This is the genre I had the hardest time with. If a television show is done well (and I don't want to regularly watch one that isn't), we know the characters well enough that it's hard to get in a good twist without viewers seeing it coming. And if the show is predicated on twist after twist...never mind, I won't be watching that (see above about "done well").
But there was one extremely well-done show that got in a great twist in recent memory, so much so that to do this day I'm still thinking about it. I refer you to Buffy The Vampire Slayer, and no, I'm not talking about the fact that the slayer was a teenager, that her vampire boyfriend became evil (in retrospect, is that really a twist?) or that the show took place in a Hellmouth named Sunnydale. I'm thinking instead about the Season 6 episode "Normal Again" in which a demon Buffy fought injected her with a venom that made her believe she was living in an alternate reality, namely, that instead of fighting demons and vampires for the last few years, she was really in a mental institution, overseen by her not-divorced parents. She was finally out of a catatonic state, and the doctors said it was essential that if she wanted to get better she had to accept that her fantasy world was just that and kill off her imaginary friends. Which meant that our Buffy subdued her loyal friends and sister to be killed so she could be rid of the fantasy. Ironically, her mother's words in the mental institution inspire her to save her friends, and she defeats the demon who was going to kill them. All was well...until the final scene, in which a catatonic Buffy sat in her cell while her mother and father wept over her.
|Is this for real?|
Honestly, this genre was the reason I wanted to do this blog hop. Because of their relatively short duration, movies are best suited to give audiences a satisfying twist, or two or three or four.
Wild Things, on first glance, is kind of trashy. First spoiled Kelly (Denise Richards) claims to her mother, Sandra (Theresa Russell), that her former teacher (and Sandra's former lover) Sam (Matt Dillon) raped her. Then trailer trash Suzie (Neve Campbell) calls Detective Ray Duquette (Kevin Bacon) and joins the complaint, only to be grilled on the stand and forced to confess that two girls made it up. Sam, having been beaten up by Sandra's thugs, gets a settlement with the help of his possibly incompetent lawyer Bowden (Bill Murray)...and then celebrates with Kelly and Suzie in a cheap motel room! Suzie looks too nervous to wait for her share of the settlement, so after the two girls have a tryst, Kelly convinces Sam to kill Suzie. Later, Duquette, while pursuing a lead about Kelly's connection to Suzie's disappearance, accidentally shoots and kills her. He's forced off the job...and then meets up with Sam. The two go for a boat ride, during which Sam tries to kill Duquette...with the not-dead Suzie! After his body goes overboard, Suzie poisons Matt Dillon and sails off into the sunset.
|What could possibly go wrong with this bunch?|
If what motivated Wild Things was money and revenge, what moved the plot of the classic Laura was obsession. It's got all of the trappings of a good old-fashioned twist, starting with the unreliable narrator and the revelation that the police not only don't have the murderer, they have the wrong victim! Just as Detective Mark McPherson (Dana Andrews) is starting to fall for the deceased Laura Hunt (Gene Tierney), she walks into her apartment without any clue as to what's going on. As McPherson digs deeper, he realizes that Laura's fiance is even worse than he'd thought (and the casting of Victor Price as the down-on-his-luck little rich boy might qualify as a twist in and of itself) and that her best friend Waldo (Clifton Webb) isn't as gentle and sensitive as he might seem. It's a suspenseful classic, and all I'll tell you is that this time the sinister Judith Anderson *isn't* the villain.
|Gene Tierney as Laura Hunt gets to choose between a high strung columnist, a shiftless playboy...|
|Or the detective who fell in love with her picture when he thought she was dead. Er...|
|"Why fifteen years?"|
Confession: you're going to be too busy shuddering under a pillow and covering your eyes to be gasping over this one.
I think it goes without saying that mysteries have a fair bit of twisting in them. We expect them, to a certain extent, so the twist has to be extraordinary to get our attention (and if you go into a book knowing that they're going to be there, it can be even harder to enjoy the surprise). It's a mature genre, so the bar is pretty high. I think I've gone on enough about Agatha Christie's The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, but OH MY GOD. This sneaks up on you, and when it hits you you're kind of astounded. That's all I'm going to say, because it's a great twist.
|The story which proves that it's all about perspective|
|"Good suicides" lets survivors feel better...|
Thanks so much to all of the bloggers who joined me on this journey! Don't worry- we'll be back for more...