I didn’t have enough room in the headline for this article’s subtitle, which is And Remember When “They Were All The Same Person” Was A Twist? This whole thing has been buzzing around in my head since a recent argument regarding the ending to Haute Tension, which I found sort of ridiculous. It’s the standard “The Protagonist Is Insane And Actually The Killer” (aka “The Split Personality” twist). But I have to say it got me thinking that this trope actually doesn’t bug me as much as the other two, since it usually says more about the characters at hand.
Still, I’m not sure what happened to our brains over the past 14 years, but you can’t call something a twist if everyone knows it’s coming. I feel like horror needs to widen its bag of tricks beyond the “they were dead”, the “split personality” and “the protag is crazy” tropes which seem to be the only three ploys in regular use for filmmakers seeking to pull the rug out from under their audience.
The “dead” thing worked for The Sixth Sense, and it sort of worked two years later with The Others. It also worked in 1962′s Carnival Of Souls. But we’ve seen it employed at least twice more recently in Passengers and The Devil’s Ground. I’m not denigrating those films necessarily, but it should probably end there. Similarly the “split ” angle didn’t even quite work in Identity and it certainly didn’t work in The Ward. It was sort of used in Shutter Island as well, but it worked there because it was actually source of catharsis for its character.
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