The Plot Twist Gamble

Nothing like a sudden turn of the wheel that leaves the audience in disbelief. But what happens when the audience actually disbelieves? Screenwriters are aware of the double edged sword quality of plot twists: they can make a story successful almost by themselves, but can also turn against it if they come off as predictable or implausible.

In some genres (horror, thriller) they have become an expected, almost mandatory device. Robert Wiene’s The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) set the foundations for the use of narrative unreliability in films. And it’s already a great example of a twist that didn’t only aim for shock- it also tried to provide a solid justification for the visual and narrative styles of the film.

Night Shyamalan’s irregular career illustrates both the rewards and the risks of subjecting the story to a plot twist. The recent success of Split may have brought him to a second youth, but for many years, the ‘Shyamalan twists” served more as a burden than a perk, becoming the smoking gun that proves and defines the film’s failure.

So what makes a good plot twist? If Aristotle stated that good art should be both unexpected and inevitable, contemporary screenwriters like William Goldman have pinpointed a reality that Hollywood has exploited well: that a controversial ending may still work effectively if it’s at least satisfying.

Some examples of films with memorable plot twists are:

(1941) The Maltese Falcon

(1958) Vertigo

(1960) Psycho

(1968) Planet of the Apes

(1973) The Sting

(1973) Soylent Green

(1973) The Wicker Man

(1980) The Empire Strikes Back

(1987) Angel Heart

(1992) The Crying Game

(1995) The Usual Suspects

(1995) 12 Monkeys

(1996) Primal Fear

(1999) The Sixth Sense

(1999) Fight Club

(2000) Memento

(2004) Saw

(2006) The Prestige

(2016) Arrival

Stuart Little Script

Year:1999
Director:Rob Minkoff
Written by:M. Night Shyamalan (Screenplay), Greg Brooker (Screenplay)

Script Synopsis:The adventures of a heroic and debonair stalwart mouse named Stuart Little with human qualities, who faces some comic misadventures while searching for his lost bird friend and living with a human family as their child.
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Wide Awake Script

Year:1998
Director:M. Night Shyamalan
Written by:M. Night Shyamalan (Writer)

Script Synopsis:A feel-good comedy about the laughter, excitement and fun that come with being a kid! Joshua is a thoughtful 10-year-old looking for some simple answers to life's eternal questions. The problem is that no one - including his concerned parents and his 5th grade teacher - seems to be making any sense!
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Unbreakable

Year:2000
Director:M. Night Shyamalan
Written by:M. Night Shyamalan (Writer)

Script Synopsis:An ordinary man makes an extraordinary discovery when a train accident leaves his fellow passengers dead -- and him unscathed. Is he truly unbreakable? The answer could lie with the mysterious Elijah Price, a man who suffers from a disease that renders his bones as fragile as glass.
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The Village

Year:2004
Director:M. Night Shyamalan
Written by:M. Night Shyamalan (Writer)

Script Synopsis:When a willful young man tries to venture beyond his sequestered Pennsylvania hamlet, his actions set off a chain of chilling incidents that will alter the community forever in this atmospheric thriller featuring a star-studded cast.
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The Sixth Sense

Year:1999
Director:M. Night Shyamalan
Written by:M. Night Shyamalan (Writer)

Script Synopsis:A psychological thriller about an eight year old boy named Cole Sear who believes he can see into the world of the dead. A child psychologist named Malcolm Crowe comes to Cole to help him deal with his problem, learning that he really can see ghosts of dead people.
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The Last Airbender

Year:2010
Director:M. Night Shyamalan
Written by:M. Night Shyamalan (Writer)

Script Synopsis:The story follows the adventures of Aang, a young successor to a long line of Avatars, who must put his childhood ways aside and stop the Fire Nation from enslaving the Water, Earth and Air nations.
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The Happening

Year:2008
Director:M. Night Shyamalan
Written by:M. Night Shyamalan (Screenplay)

Script Synopsis:When a deadly airborne virus threatens to wipe out the northeastern United States, teacher Elliott Moore (Mark Wahlberg) and his wife (Zooey Deschanel) flee from contaminated cities into the countryside in a fight to discover the truth. Is it terrorism, the accidental release of some toxic military bio weapon -- or something even more sinister? John Leguizamo and Betty Buckley co-star in this thriller from writer-director M. Night Shyamalan.
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Signs

Year:2002
Director:M. Night Shyamalan
Written by:M. Night Shyamalan (Writer)

Script Synopsis:A family living on a farm finds mysterious crop circles in their fields which suggests something more frightening to come.
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Lady in the Water

Year:2006
Director:M. Night Shyamalan
Written by:M. Night Shyamalan (Author), M. Night Shyamalan (Screenplay)

Script Synopsis:Apartment building superintendent Cleveland Heep rescues what he thinks is a young woman from the pool he maintains. When he discovers that she is actually a character from a bedtime story who is trying to make the journey back to her home, he works with his tenants to protect his new friend from the creatures that are determined to keep her in our world.
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