What’s better than a suspenseful, intense, and well-written thriller? One with a brilliant twist no one expects. As numerous examples from cinematic history show, clever plot twists and gripping thriller movies go hand in hand and offer unforgettable viewing experiences designed to shock in the best ways. For better or worse, some of these thrillers have even become synonymous with their infamous twists, which often significantly change the films’ stories.
From classics like Se7en to contemporary international sensations like Parasite, the best thriller movies with plot twists are a treat to see for the first time. Without spoiling any of the films, the greatest ones seamlessly weave together intrigue and tension, building up to their surprising revelations that transform viewers’ understandings of the twisty movies’ narratives.
Director Martin Scorsese‘s Shutter Island is a neo-noir psychological thriller that chronicles the experience of two U.S. Marshals in an asylum on a remote island. Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his partner Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo) are tasked with investigating the disappearance of a prisoner from the Ashecliffe Hospital but soon discover something more sinister along the way. Teddy, in particular, begins to question the island, his perception, and even his partner as he uncovers a conspiracy.
Shutter Island‘s isolated setting greatly contributes to the film’s dark atmosphere, which hints at the distressing revelation that changes everything about the two investigators’ roles in the story. DiCaprio is fantastic as the troubled Teddy, whose personal issues get in the way of their work on the island and who is soon forced to confront his past to move forward.
Shutter Island is streaming on Paramount+.
Oldboy is a masterpiece of South Korean cinema and an instantly recognizable violent action thriller movie for fans of the genre. Directed by Park Chan-wook, the movie follows Oh Dae-su (Choi Min-sik), an unassuming drunkard who is mysteriously imprisoned for 15 years without ever being told the reason. Upon his equally seemingly arbitrary release, he goes on a brutal quest for vengeance against those responsible but soon finds himself walking into a twisted conspiracy.
Oh Dae-su’s tragic arc on Oldboy reveals its true unsettling nature toward the end of the movie in one of the most infamously disturbing plot twists in film history. The real reason for his suffering for over a decade is more complex than anyone would expect, but be warned, the jaw-dropping shocker is a repulsive moment that has to be seen to be believed.
Old Boy can be rented or purchased at various digital vendors, including Amazon Prime Video.
Retiring and disillusioned police Detective William Somerset (Morgan Freeman) is partnered with the newly transferred and naïve David Mills (Brad Pitt) in Se7en, where a serial killer is committing grisly murders based on the seven deadly sins. As the duo tries to keep up with each new murder, the killer’s crime scenes reveal more about his troubling motives.
Directed by David Fincher, Se7en is one of those movies known for its legendary plot twist. The unforgettable moment in the 1995 film is still part of pop culture, with numerous memes ensuring that even those who have never actually seen the film will still know about that desperate question, “What’s in the box?” With a 4k remaster released this year, it’s worth revisiting the classic crime thriller not just for its iconic scene but also for its innovative cinematography, palpable tension, and strong performances from Pitt and Freeman.
Se7ev is streaming on Fubo TV.
Parasite rightly became an international sensation when it first premiered in 2019, winning four Academy Awards and making history by becoming the first non-English-language film to win the Oscar for Best Picture. The film that turned director Bong Joon-ho into a household name has a deceptively simple premise, as it’s centered on the poor Kim family, who, by posing as skilled workers, infiltrate the lives of the wealthy Park family.
Bong Joon-ho’s widely acclaimed social thriller film uses contrast to tell its powerful story, from the difference between the Kim and Park family’s living conditions to the subtle nuances in their actions and reactions to something as normal as fruit or rain. Its stunning midpoint twist further emphasizes Parasite‘s social commentary while also turning the movie into a genre-bending nail-biter that only gets more thrilling from there.
Parasite is streaming on Max.
Anyone who was even slightly aware of pop culture back in the late ’90s and early 2000s will know the first rule of Fight Club. David Fincher’s famous subversive thriller film follows the Narrator (Edward Norton), whose insomnia and consumer-driven life leads him down some strange paths. He forms an unlikely friendship with soap salesman Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt), and together, they create the titular club as a way to rage, release, and rebel alongside like-minded men.
Fight Club‘s overarching narrative is inextricably linked with and dependent on its mind-blowing twist, which is one most audiences are likely already familiar with. The jarring revelation before the end of the film, alongside the movie’s edgy visual style and gritty tone, underscores Fight Club‘s strong anti-capitalist message that’s still just as applicable today.
Fight Club is streaming on Hulu.
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