We're betting that a lot of the water cooler talk this week will center on 'Shutter Island,' since, not only was it the weekend's biggest movie, but it also has a shockeroo ending, which most reviewers have been careful not to spoil. Which makes us ponder: what makes a good twist ending?

In an age of pre-release hype and Internet script leaks, a truly-surprising twist ending is especially hard to pull off. Yet Hollywood loves them when they're done right because they mean repeat business, since a well-executed twist ending sheds a new light on everything that came before it, sending audiences back to the theater to watch the movie again in hopes of picking up the clues this time around. Audiences like twists because we like getting duped -- up to a point. A good twist ending leaves you feeling admiration at getting played by a master storyteller; a bad twist ending (think 'No Way Out,' or 'Basic') just leaves you feeling played. The ending can't seem arbitrary, non sequitur, or tacked on; it should flow naturally and organically (if only in retrospect) from the rest of the story.
categories Features