Ever wondered why we, as an audience, have a much higher affinity for plot twists than we do for those overtly romanticized happy endings? One could argue that there is a certain satisfaction in racking our brains to guess exactly what the twist will be. Or, we favor these movies simply because we love to be surprised. To drive the point home, while you may not always remember the hero getting the girl, you will always, always remember Keyser Soze correcting his limp and delivering that shudder-inducing monologue with which he began ‘The Usual Suspects.’
We seem to be content with films that are either able to blow our collective minds or leave us with a lingering question by the times the credits roll. Plus, what is a better way of getting that jolt than from the comfort of our couches, courtesy of Netflix, anytime we want? Not to typecast, but it is surely a true thriller fan’s most vivid dream come true. So, without further ado, here is the list of some movies that you can expect to blow your mind.
20. Before I Wake (2016)
This fantasy horror takes a look at Jessie and Mark Hobson, a couple that adopts 8-year-old Cody Morgan after unfortunately losing their own child, Sean, when he drowns in the bathtub. Starring Kate Bosworth, Thomas Jane, and Jacob Tremblay, the film is actually not your typical run-of-the-mill horror production. Furthermore, the script mixes the conventional elements of the genre with a beautiful and touching story. When everything is considered, ‘Before I Wake’ does not blend into the many movies that have preceded it in this field.
19. The Woman in The Window (2021)
Child psychologist Anna Fox develops agoraphobia after her separation from her husband and lives alone in a Manhattan apartment. Unable to leave, she begins spying on her neighbors and notices a new family move in next door. Gradually she befriends the matriarch as well as the child of the family and learns that the father might be a tad abusive. Determined to catch him in the act, Anna keeps spying and suddenly notices the mother, Jane Russell, being stabbed to death. Although she immediately calls the police, a different woman arrives on the scene and claims to be Jane throwing the child psychologist’s mind in a spiral. As the plot progresses, Anna’s reality keeps falling apart, and she begins second-guessing and doubting herself, leading to a massive twist that viewers won’t see coming.
18. Lucid Dream (2017)
This South Korean sci-fi mystery chronicles the quest of a young journalist who is still searching for his son three years after he was kidnapped. As a last resort, the father turns to lucid dreaming in order to crack the case. The plot may remind you of ‘Inception,’ but at the end of the day, ‘Lucid Dream’ manages to differentiate itself from the Christopher Nolan production. (For one, the ending isn’t really up for debate in the Korean movie). You can also check this film out for the stellar performances given by Kyung-gu Sol, Soo Go, and Hye-Jeong Kang.
17. Dangerous Lies (2020)
Katie lives quite a normal life and works as a wealthy elderly man’s caregiver. The film portrays her family as having fallen on hard times with Katie’s job making ends meet. However, fortune seems to smile on her all of a sudden as the caregiver inherits her patient’s massive estate, much to everyone’s surprise. However, with money comes trouble as she is drawn into a world of deception, murder, and crime. Thus unravels an uneasy and suspenseful game of cat and mouse, which will keep the viewer guessing until the very end.
16. The Invisible Guest (2016)
This Spanish mystery film is simply remarkable. It stars Mario Casas as Adrián Doria, a successful business person and family man. But he is arrested for allegedly murdering his lover, Laura Vidal. While out on bail, his lawyer hires a well-known defense attorney, Virginia Goodman, to strengthen their case. She tells Adrián that the prosecution has found a witness and that he needs to tell her the whole truth so that she can do her job properly.
The movie is a breath of fresh air when it comes to the genre, and focuses more on the plot and the development of the characters. We recommend watching ‘The Invisible Guest’ when you crave a compelling narrative and no additional frills.
15. In The Shadow of Iris (2016)
A loose remake of Hideo Nakata’s ‘Chaos,’ this erotic thriller looks at the mysterious disappearance of Iris, the wife of a wealthy banker in Paris. A mechanic named Max is the one who has asked for the ransom. But a police investigation reveals that the story is not as simple and straightforward as it seems.
This French production features Romain Duris, Charlotte Le Bon, and Jalil Lespert, with the latter also serving as the director. The plot encompasses constant twists and turns that will keep you on your feet, and the dark thriller is one that you can watch when you’re in the mood for something more exotic.
14. Cloud Atlas (2012)
One of the most divisive films of modern times is ‘Cloud Atlas.’ The response to it was quite discordant: a few critics gave it a standing ovation, while others termed it one of the worst films of the year. Professing a theory not too vastly different from the butterfly effect (but with more grandiose), the movie particularly drew criticism for its narrative structure. The seemingly random cuts that separate its telling of multiple plots across six eras in time (that are all connected to each other) were quite different for the genre. However, this uniquity is what draws you towards the film, and the ending also cements your likeness for it. As is the case with a lot of films that incorporate plot twists, it has a “love it or hate it” kind of consensus, but you simply cannot ignore its vision and scope in trying to tell the story differently.
13. Apostle (2018)
Set in 1905, ‘Apostle’ follows Thomas Richardson as he travels to a remote Welsh island, intending to rescue his sister, who is held captive by a mysterious cult. Upon meeting the cult and its leader, he learns how the unfertile land was changed through animal sacrifices. He then realizes that his sister, Jennifer, was kidnapped for ransom as the cult can’t afford unlimited animals. However, problems follow him from the moment he sets foot on the island, including a terrifying assassination attempt on the cul leader, which leaves Thomas injured. Besides, while trying to hide from the natives, Thomas even comes across the island’s diety, an old woman engulfed in roots and trees. As the sinister plot unfolds, it pulls the city-dwelling Thomas into the dark world of blood sacrifice and paganism, leading to a mind-blowing twist at the very end.
12. ARQ (2016)
Directed by Tony Elliott, this film premiered at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival and was later picked up by Netflix for international distribution. ‘ARQ’ is set at a certain point of time when the world’s energy resources are getting depleted. This has created an intense situation between big industries and governments.
The central character of the film is an engineer who, along with his girlfriend, is hiding with a machine that can generate unlimited energy. They realize their lives are in danger when a number of armed men break into their hiding spot. But each time the central character named Renton dies, he wakes up in the same room. This makes him realize that he is stuck in a time loop. The film uses this concept quite interestingly, and on top of it, ‘ARQ’ brings in a twist that immediately changes our perception of the situation.
11. The Paramedic (2020)
The protagonist is Angel Hernandez, who works as a paramedic. His girlfriend, Vane, and he are trying to have a child together, but it turns out that he has fertility issues. He also hides this fact from his girlfriend. One day, while taking a patient to the hospital, the vehicle he is in meets with an accident, and consequently, he becomes paralyzed from the waist down. Soon, Angel turns into a man who becomes obsessed with tracking his girlfriend’s every move, and the movie explores how he copes with his disability. Although the premise may sound familiar to you, we believe that this film should be given a chance for the harrowing script.
10. The Discovery (2017)
When it comes to this film, think of science fiction with undertones of romance. Robert Redford plays Dr. Thomas Harbor, a man who has conclusively proven that the afterlife does exist. However, suicide rates shoot up and Will, his son, holds him accountable for this situation. On a ferry, Will (Jason Segel) meets Isla (Rooney Mara), and later, the two go to the compound where Dr. Harbor conducts his experiments. As they find out more about the father’s work, the two also fall in love. ‘The Discovery’ offers something a little different for its genre, and we believe that it could be the movie that you’ve been looking for.
9. Eli (2019)
A Netflix original film directed by Ciaran Foy, the story of ‘Eli’ centers around a little boy who has been affected by a rather rare disease. This has made it impossible for him to step outside his house, which has led Eli to always live a life devoid of friends. After taking him to the best possible doctors and failing to come up with a solution for his problem, Eli’s parents appoint a doctor who is using a cutting-edge method to cure his disease. However, these methods are yet to be sanctioned by the government. As soon as Eli’s treatment begins, he realizes that the house where he is living is haunted and that there are a number of malicious spirits around him. His ordeal keeps getting worse till a shocking twist makes the reason behind his visions clear. Despite the climax catching you off guard, the only problem with the film is that it is much longer than what should have been its ideal running time.
8. Cam (2018)
‘Cam’ delves deep into the many dangers of the internet and how easily one can get trapped into a web of problems that are far beyond one’s control. The protagonist is a girl called Alice who secretly works as a cam girl. Her job is to film herself using a webcam as she indulges in erotic acts. Not satisfied with the number of viewers she gets every month, Alice decides that the best thing for her is to think of something out of the box. So, she comes up with the idea of live-streaming a fake suicide.
This video proves to be rather effective and gets Alice the popularity she has always craved. But things go haywire when a girl who looks exactly like her appears from nowhere and steals her thunder. Alice is rather shocked to see this and wants to pursue the matter to the very end. However, this leads her to a stupefying discovery that is about to change her perception of the internet forever. ‘Cam’ shows us the dangers we constantly need to avoid in the online world, and how everything we do or say always leaves an imprint on the internet.
7. Bird Box (2018)
One of the most popular Netflix original films of 2018, ‘Bird Box‘ stars Sandra Bullock in the lead role as a woman who is facing an apocalyptic threat while trying to protect the lives of her children.
The film is set in a time when the world has been ravaged by the presence of a strange collection of entities that has a deadly effect on whoever lays eyes on them. The people who commit this mistake instantly lose their minds and kill themselves. The only way to traverse through this deadly situation is by tying pieces of cloth around one’s eyes to avoid looking at the entities at all costs. Those who have survived this ordeal are heading towards a special community where they are safe from this nuisance. The woman in question also tries to take her children to the same site while navigating some extremely dangerous and violent situations. ‘Bird Box’ is a fresh approach to zombie apocalypse films and its case as one of the best in the genre is also aided by Bullock’s fine performance.
6. The Perfection (2018)
A Netflix original, ‘The Perfection’ is a film that has its fair share of distortions. It boasts of several twists and turns throughout the narrative and makes for a rather exciting watch. The film starts with the story of Charlotte, a talented young cellist who quits her music school after her mother is suddenly hospitalized. Charlotte, a few years later, contacts her teacher, Anton, and heads off to Shanghai alongside him and some other musicians to join an elite music school. Once there, she comes across Lizzie, another one of Anton’s students. It is the meeting of these two characters which starts off a chain of sinister events. ‘The Perfection’ might offer some genre cliches, but this is a film you should not miss out at any cost.
5. Velvet Buzzsaw (2019)
Love it or hate it, there is one thing that you absolutely cannot deny about this Netflix release: it is easily one of the most ludicrous films that you will catch, with an ending that gives the plot’s weirdness a run for its money. There is frankly so much going on: social commentary, art critique, critique on the act of critique, and a horror plot in there somewhere, that you will have little to think about as the film progresses. There is also enough craft involved from the sizeable lineup of actors involved. It is when the film ends that the inevitable questions start coming at you. If you can avoid those, ‘Velvet Buzzsaw’ can be a delightfully weird watch, if you have the taste for it.
4. Fractured (2019)
Netflix has created quite a niche for itself when it comes to producing intense thrillers, and 2019’s ‘Fractured‘ serves as another solid addition to their repertoire. The film centers around a family of three which is on vacation when a tragedy completely changes their lives. The horrific experience begins when the daughter, Peri, gets injured and has to be admitted to a hospital. While the father, Ray, is waiting in the lobby of the hospital, his wife, Joanne, takes Peri for some tests. Being extremely tired, Ray passes out, only to later find out that his wife and daughter are missing. Nobody in the hospital can give him any information regarding the same, and they even deny seeing Joanne and Peri in the first place. Ray realizes that a sinister conspiracy is at work, and he has to get hold of his family before something irreversible happens.
The pacing of the film is brilliant, and it ticks off all the boxes of a psychological thriller. This riveting movie is elevated to a higher status by the powerful performance of Sam Worthington in the leading role.
3. The Crimes That Bind (2020)
This Argentinean thriller follows a mother as both her son and her domestic help are fighting two separate legal cases at the same time. Cecilia Roth plays Alicia, whose maternal instincts guide her to protect her son, Daniel, at all costs, despite allegations of rape and domestic abuse being levied against him by his ex-wife. At the same time, her help, Gladys, is on trial for killing her second child after its birth. What makes this movie worth a watch is the fantastic character development with some rather pertinent conversations about social issues in the backdrop.
2. Black Mirror: Bandersnatch (2018)
Talking of plot twists, this film doesn’t have just one. There are 5 main ones and close to 10-12 that you can reach if you are willing to spend the required amount of time. We all know ‘Black Mirror’ to be a favorite owing to its cerebral subject matter and innovative presentation techniques. However, with ‘Bandersnatch’, both Netflix and the ‘Black Mirror’ team push the envelope to introduce a highly interactive TV to a curious audience.
Akin to an RPG, you are allowed to make choices that lead to separately devised narratives. These further lead to different endings, but you can also go back to make a different choice in case you reach a dead end. The marketing may have been more centered on the gimmicky nature of interactive TV and the need to sell that, but the plot is well thought out and tailored to deliver you the definitive ‘Black Mirror’ experience with an additional edge.
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1. I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Directed and written by Charlie Kaufman, the movie follows a young woman who is traveling with her new boyfriend, Jake, to meet his parents. We keep learning more and more about the protagonist and why she is thinking of ending things with her beau as the movie progresses. But the script houses a certain misdirection that will stay with you even after the credits have rolled. We don’t want to say anything more and ruin the story for you, but be rest assured that ‘I’m Thinking of Ending Things’ will have you racking your brain and pulling at every single thread that was presented during the course of the film.
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