13 Movies That Completely Changed In One Scene


Being surprised by a movie is one of the unique joys that cinema can offer, a feeling that is nearly impossible to replicate elsewhere. Every time we watch a movie we’re investing something, usually a healthy (or unhealthy) portion of time and money, and the hope is that we’ll have a return on this investment in the form of being entertained, feeling feelings, and receiving inspiration.

With this comes expectations that we tend to wish will be fulfilled, which is often where genre comes into play: the anticipation that because we’re seeing a science fiction or western or horror movie (or the surprise of an animated movie, like Up, featuring possibly the most elegant tear-jerker sequences ever conceived), a certain set of familiar concepts and sensibilities will come across.

There is pleasure in having these desires fulfilled, but also in having them be upended or subverted without warning. Movies that make this subversive tendency the point of their existence can be incredibly powerful. Some are more subtle about teasing expectations for us to latch onto and then taking us in a different direction completely. And there are lots of movies where this happens in one scene, where we think we know where a movie is going until a particular moment or set of moments gets thrown at us and we become disoriented or stunned in silence and pause.

This can occur in the very beginning of a movie or at the very end, but its effect is profound no matter where it pops up. Even if it’s incredible subtle and beautifully underplayed, those surprising scenes or moments make us sit up in our chairs and take note that this is not the movie we were expecting. In the best instances, that’s an exciting realization.

Here are 13 movies that completely shift gears before our eyes over the course of a single scene.

Comments (368)

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  1. MattyV83says:

    Where is “Audition”? That movie completely changes with a phone ringing.

    1. Charlene Thurstonsays:

      The Hindenburg. That one changes when the ship blows up. 😉

      1. Lukesays:

        Star Wars. Completely changes when the Death Star contractor says, “Hey, Dark Lord, do you want a vertical shaft three meters wide installed that will allow photon torpedoes to penetrate to the core of the battle station and start a chain reaction that will cause a big explosion that kills everyone on board?” and he says, “Oh, heck, sounds expensive and we are over-budget, but let’s do it!”

  2. Daniel Elfordsays:

    Agree with the previous comment, ‘Audition’ should be there; it is famous for being an hour of light family drama, before descending into Hell! I would also mention ‘Martyrs’?

    1. Jek6says:

      I agree with From Dusk Till Dawn. When I read the title to this article, that was the first film that popped into my head. I also thought of Kick-Ass right after that. I was clueless about this movie (I didn’t even know it was from a comic book when I went to see it.) I thought it was another quirky, light hearted Apatow-esque comedy, Then Hit girl storms into the scene and brutally kills a bunch of guys and the whole film changes. I was shocked (and loved it, by the way) and it was a pretty dark comedy from that point on. Also Pan’s Labyrinth did this too. As soon as that knife came out, This was no longer a “family fare” movie.

  3. Stevesays:

    What about From Dusk Till Dawn? I had the chance to see it openning night. before having read reviews, and just laughed my ass off when suddenly the film went from road trip to blood bath!

    1. Frosty319says:

      Correct !!! This should be number one. It’s basically two movies.

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    3. LiamTsays:

      i agree. i’ve seen a few of these here and DTD suddenly changes genre and everything in 1 scene. brilliant movie too!

    4. Gabrialsays:

      I agree! D2D changes so suddenly and completely in that one scene! It was awesome. How did it not make it ot this ist?

    5. MikieNoLikiesays:

      I figured this article was built around From Dusk Til Dawn and it wasn’t even in here.

    6. Dave Clarysays:

      Predator, too. I did not see a trailer for this film when I saw it for the first time, and was getting popcorn when the opening shot establishes just where the Predator’s coming from. But this film goes from traditional Arnold guns-and-one-liners movie to HOLY SHIT in an instant.

    7. MutinyofSensesays:

      I clicked on this blog wondering where “From Dusk til Dawn” ranked, very surprised it wasn’t mentioned

      1. C-spotsays:

        Ummm it’s number 13. unless it has been added since

    8. Yeah I remember that one.

    9. Zacksays:

      I only clicked the goddamned adbait to make sure this made the list! WTF!?

    10. x1134xsays:

      Its number 13 on the list I just clicked through.

    11. John Crandallsays:

      WTH you all going on about. It is #13

    12. Guestsays:

      Maybe they changed something? Because it’s #13.

  4. Iam_Spartacussays:

    How about Million Dollar Baby? The first half looks like a Rocky type underdog tale, then WHAMO! We’re hit with a morality play on Kevorkianism, talk about a shift in gears.

    1. @mamoladksays:

      Million Dollar Baby broke with her neck. Total crap movie:

      I want to! I want to!
      train me please!
      I can! I can!I can! I can! I can! I can! I
      Please kill me!
      please kill me!

      1. @mamoladksays:

        was somehow added by the page.

      2. @mamoladksays:

        those /click and /snap things were somehow added by the page

      3. Chris Carpenter Ourslersays:

        That is too bad…I thought it gave the comment a whole new feel.

    2. googoosays:

      Absolutely. It’s hard to believe Million Dollar Baby isn’t here.

  5. freya9says:

    Kill List is a good example. It starts off as a kitchen sink drama then becomes a gritty gangster film before ending up something much stranger.

  6. Vincent Galianosays:

    “I’m always surprised that Inglourious Basterds isn’t universally regarded as Quentin Tarantino’s singular masterpiece.”
    I’m surprised some people actually liked that film. For it’s not only his worst film, it’s the beginning of the end for him. He shows he can write amazing dialogues in the worst scenes ever (and I don’t even think about the stupid plot), can’t direct foreigners (the french actors are horrible_I’m french). He’s for me the most overrated filmmlaker of history. He did two good films and that ‘s it. it’s always about vengenace, and it’s always taken from other people’s films.

    And yes, Audition, or From dusk till dawn, deserved more places in this list (interesting subject) than most films in it.

    1. Asashii Fustazisays:

      The Dogs is his greatest film for me, 1992 one hell of a year for the ULTRA violent movie with Tarintino leading the charge!

    2. Chris Carpenter Ourslersays:

      I find most of his movies sweaty and overly excited…i like his portrayal of strong (read not simply whores or mothers) women characters. I loved the kill bill series. But in general, it feels like he is trying too hard. He should trust his writing and character development more.

    3. ColBatGuanosays:

      That he called Inglorious Basterds more tense than No Country for Old Men tells me all I need to know about this reviewer.

  7. ZeroDarkThirtyisInsipidTrashsays:

    There is absolutely nothing “brilliant” about Zero Dark Thirty.

    1. Scrapper Keepersays:

      Or so you say.

      1. texshelterssays:

        Or so you say, and why? Doesn’t reason count for anything anymore?


  8. JONNYDOEsays:

    Hey Steve,you took the words out of my mouth..From Dusk
    Till Dawn started out very Quentin Tarantino..(Cool.).Infact the movie is really good….UNTILL Selma Hyack does her table dance that is absolutely HOT!!..Then it all went to SH#%…I almost pissed myself after the whole friggin cast became blood thirsty VAMPIRES…………Come on with that GARBAGE..give me a break

    1. Jay Champagnesays:

      From Dusk til Dawn; the only vampire movie you should probably stop watching before the vampires show up.

  9. gltofficsays:

    hmmmmm. On the title page is a storyboard clip from UP showing the picture album scene. One of the most heartfelt and endearing clips that turns a so so premise into a beautiful homage to his wife. And then it is NOT in the list given. Seems the site layout crew had a better handle on a single compelling scene idea more than the author.

    1. Darren Rueckersays:

      Hate to break it to you, but the author and layout crew were one and the same. The image’s inclusion without explanation was deliberate, I assure you.

      1. Charlene Thurstonsays:

        Why do you “assure” us? What are the facts upon which you base your assurance?

      2. Brandy Jean Evanssays:

        It’s his article…He deliberately put the picture there…. symbolism, foreshadowing, what have you.
        Buh-bye now.
        Unless you were being funny, then yes, it was funny, and my comment is void 😉

  10. tihmtahmsays:

    Hmmmmm… Million Dollar Baby should definitely be on that list!

  11. joesays:

    The place beyond the pines should be on this list. I’ve never seen a movie change like this one possibly ever. It was pretty amazing to.

  12. This is only ten movies not then all… Chill out

  13. “I’m always surprised that Inglourious Basterds isn’t universally regarded as Quentin Tarantino’s singular masterpiece.”

    Without the Basterds who were so jarring to the tone of the movie, it probably would be…

    1. chiffmonkeysays:

      Then you missed the film’s secondary darker meaning. It is a parallel opposite to Nation’s Pride. Zoller and Raine are essentially the same character, up against mindless Americans and Nazis respectively performing ridiculous acts of violence and being praised for it. The Basterds are SUPPOSED to be jarring, they are propaganda poster boys, only in a propaganda version of history could they possibly kill Hitler after all.

  14. I disagree with Killing Them Softly… the final scene was the great, but a scene is dealt a disservice when the actor delivering it doesn’t own the role -Brad Pitt was the weakness of the film – that scene doesn’t change much, it just clarifies the message (here’s my review to flesh out my views on this film if you’re interested: http://inthekan.net/reviews/killing-them-softly-review/)

    Also, I think for me 50/50 changed the moment the doctor mentioned Cancer – after what was meant to be a routine checkup. I didn’t know anything about the film before seeing it, so everything changed with the ‘C’ word.

    I agree with the comment’s that Million Dollar Baby should be here, and I would add Almodovar’s “The Skin I live In” – which hinges on one scene as your brain does the math and puts the pieces together, once that final piece falls into place, everything changes…

    Also, maybe, The Prestige, The Birds, this list could be endless if you really go into it.
    – Interesting

  15. tHE iTCHsays:

    crying game & dusk till dawn…WTF!

    1. CTedsays:

      Crying game… yup forgot about that one.

      Matrix too is a good example someone said above.

      1. Jay Champagnesays:

        How can anyone forget the Crying Game? A fairly banal romance story turns into emotional torture in one second.

  16. Salvador Daleksays:

    “…the way I have come to think of it, as his most mature and coherently realized piece of work to date…”

    Too derivative, corny, and fantastic to be mature.

  17. Arvidesays:

    Not Psycho? One storyline turns into another at the stroke of the knife.

    1. Psycho gave permission for the rest of these to shift gears. Sure, today, you know Janet Leigh is doomed from the start. But killing off the star in the first forty minutes and shifting from morality play to horror movie slapped ’60s moviegoers hard across the face.

      How does Psycho not make this list?

      1. jsmith0552says:

        Psycho doesn’t make the list because we live in a Tabula Rasa generation that doesn’t recognize anything over 10 years old as being significant. Also, the primary reason so many movies, songs, and books can borrow liberally from things that have already been done, (and oft-times better executed) and be hailed as the most original, inventive thing since sliced bread.

      2. Charlene Thurstonsays:

        Exactly. I was struck by how this “reviewer” hasn’t seen a very wide range of films and doesn’t know so many of these “totally original” moments are in fact literal rip-offs.

      3. Jamessays:

        Yeah, obviously the reviewer is too young to know about The Crying Game (1992). That movie basically defines this genre.

      4. Appomattoxsays:

        Agree. Kept waiting for “The Crying Game” to show up on the list then realized all the movies he cited were of recent vintage. That movie had 2 right turns as I recall. Also, “Vanilla Sky”. The last scene suddenly made clear the entire confusing film. I still play the last words over in my mind: “Wake up David. Wake up”.

  18. Dubstersays:

    How the hell can you say Inglorious “changes” in 1 scene, and then list the very first scene of the movie ? Sort it out.

    1. Marcel Samsonsays:

      To me, IB changes EVERY scene. I don’t really feel it is a coherent movie experience, more a collection of (often insanely cool) scenes….

      1. bananna hammocksays:

        QT’s movies have always been episodic in nature, with some kind of overarching theme or presenting different facets of a story acting as a bow to tie it all up. .

    2. SonzTwinsays:

      This piece is clearly not ‘sorted out’ – both from fulfilling its pretentious billing to showing good evidence of good sense or basic writing skills.

    3. EnoughStupidAlreadysays:

      You and the article’s writer have both been linguistically lazy. However, the author never explicitly stated that the change had to happen at any specific point in the movie.

      Clearly the author was discussing movies that have one tone/ambiance/genre and take on a wholly new one afterwards. Inglorious Basterds opens as if it were a sad Holocaust movie. Instead, its move Castle Wolfenstein.

      1. Dubstersays:

        “Changes in 1 scene” IS being explicit. “Move castle Wolfenstein” ?
        The only linguistic issue here isn’t laziness, it’s your failing grasp of the English language. Jog on.

      2. EnoughStupidAlreadysays:

        One letter and I fail at the language? You can’t even use punctuation correctly, the question mark goes inside the quotation marks. Also there should be a comma after the word “scene,” but before the word “IS,” which should not, strictly speaking, be capitalized.

        You failure here isn’t a desire for good grammar. Its your staggering arrogance in light of your own incompetence. Jog on.

      3. Dubstersays:


      4. Katsays:

        The question mark does not go inside the quotation marks as it was not part of the quote. By putting the question mark inside the quotation marks, you are incorrectly quoting.

        You are also incorrect stating that a comma should follow “scene”. If you truly believed this, you should have applied the same rule to your own comments.

        Stay in school, kids.

      5. Toby Wongsays:

        who will win this battle of grammar?! oh the humanity, I can’t watch!

      6. Mannysays:

        Actually, a comma could be used if we argued that for reader clarity it was necessary. Commas can signify pauses to help the reader understand what is being said. (I’m not an English Major, just read it and got curious.)
        He did use commas after his quotations though.

        What I am more concerned with is the fact there is a question mark present without a question. Forget that quotation is or isn’t correct… What exactly is being asked? It should be a period and that does go inside the quotation.

      7. Guestsays:

        *Question mark should not be inside quotation marks
        *No comma required after scene, neither in his sentence nor in yours
        *Comma after correctly – should be a colon or a hyphen, or possibly a full stop
        *Sentence begun with ‘Also’, although this isn’t a formal essay so somewhat acceptable
        *Spelled capitalized’ with a ‘z’ (Although acceptable in American English)

        *Missed the ‘r’ from ‘your’
        *Full stop after grammar – should be comma or a hyphen

        *Missed apostrophe in ‘It’s’

        If your whole comment was a poor attempt at satire or irony (which is likely considering your display name) then please forgive the corrections.

      8. Lauren 'Lozz' Conduitsays:


        *Question mark should not be inside quotation marks
        *No comma required after scene, neither in his sentence nor in yours
        *Comma after correctly – should be a colon or a hyphen, or possibly a full stop
        *Sentence begun with ‘Also’, although this isn’t a formal essay so somewhat acceptable
        *Spelled capitalized’ with a ‘z’ (Although acceptable in American English)
        *Missed the ‘r’ from ‘your’
        *Full stop after grammar – should be comma or a hyphen
        *Missed apostrophe in ‘It’s’

        If your whole comment was a poor attempt at satire or irony (which is likely considering your display name) then please forgive the corrections.

      9. TheSpasticAvenger .says:

        I love that you grammar NAZIED the grammar NAZI, well done you win the internet.

  19. surgical ikesays:

    “a man severing off his own arm” how else do you sever a limb- On? Up? Down?

    1. SonzTwinsays:

      Don’t get started on his writing ‘skills’: did anyone catch him saying “still over” (instead of ‘spill over’)? PLEASE: if you know you can’t write (and you SHOULD know), ask a friend who does to check your work before posting on the internet. It’s embarrassing.

  20. TemporalSwordsays:

    You missed one. The Usual Suspects. Anyone who says they saw the final scene coming is bullshitting you, and it repaints the entire movie in one single masterstroke.

    1. shashwat001says:

      I too was surprised where Usual Suspects have gone. The last scene and the movie didn’t happen.

      1. Derriksays:

        Agree, 6th sense, Fight Club are a couple of others

      2. CiaranMacAoidhsays:

        But those are just twist endings. Brilliant and all, but I think that’s different from a movie shifting gears suddenly and keeping on going for another hour. Usual suspects is a reveal, not a gear change.

    2. Adriansays:

      The best movie which changes in one scene (and this is not debatable, it’s a fact) is Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Conversation”

  21. Tierra Rideoutsays:

    Also Children of Men, when the coffee shop blows up, when before it was just a man getting his morning cup of joe. Definitely set the tone for a great movie.

    1. Clemerysays:

      Again though… this is an early scene that serves to set the tone of the movie, rather than change it half way through.

  22. Guestsays:

    The Crying Game.

    1. Bobsays:

      Yeah, this is really THE example.

      1. Elizabethsays:

        Yup, that was the first one I thought of.

      2. Jamessays:

        Same here! But obviously the writer is either 12 years old or ignorant–or both. And what’s with the fact that people have never heard of most of these movies?

  23. Paul Rhyesays:

    No Man on Fire?

  24. lostboy408says:

    I utterly despised Cabin In The Woods to such a degree it was unbelievable! Fuck that movie

    1. bfg666says:

      Please go fuck yourself instead.

      1. bigevilworldwidesays:

        Awww someone is butt hurt that not everyone like shit ass cabin in the woods…..That shit was retarded and it’s embarrassing that shit like that gets made and then called horror…..

        Let me guess little nitwit you also thought that World War Z was a great film also?

      2. bfg666says:

        My butt is fine, troll, unlike your neurons as it seems. Talk about retarded! Is your life really so pathetically empty that you feel the need to act like a baby? Did Momma rock your cradle too close to the wall or something?

        The fact is Cabin was the most brilliant twist on the genre since the first Scream but you seem to lack the ability to process it.

        By the way, wrong guess. I couldn’t care less about WWZ therefore didn’t go see it.

      3. It was NOT a horror movie; that’s where you first went wrong. It’s called “satire” or loosely “parody”. Dictionary.com, people. Use it. Do your homework before making stupid comments.
        The commenter beneath me hit the nail on the head: Cabin in the Woods has a lot more in common with Scream than it does with any straight horror movie.

        My work is done here. Be kind to your server.

  25. Dansays:

    All of these films are comparatively recent to the one I’m going to suggest. I agree that this list is one person’s opinion and that cinema, like all art, is subjective. We should celebrate that rather than argue over it. However, I am surprised that ‘The Great Dictator’ isn’t in there. It’s not Chaplin’s finest work, but it contains his finest scene – which utterly transforms the film and makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. You will feel both angry with yourself for laughing at the antics of Chaplin mocking Hitler throughout most of the film and inspired by his benevolent rhetoric. It’s the bravest career move I’ve ever seen an actor / director take. If you haven’t seen it, go and watch it, right now, for the sake of humanity.

  26. Sadiesays:

    For me, the “shit gets real” moment in 50/50 is when his chemo friend dies. Up to that point it’s all fun and games until Adam is faced with the reality that cancer can, in fact, be deadly. That’s what ultimately triggers his change in therapy and his breakdown in the car. Although I agree that the scene in the hospital is quite a powerful one.

  27. Your English Profsays:

    Umm, I think I must have watched another set of ten movies because I didn’t agree with any of this analysis. In most of the instances the scene changed the writer’s previously preconceived notion of the movie not the movie itself. And I agree with the layout comment – why the Up graphic?

  28. Ian Michael Enriquezsays:

    This article seems limited to very recent films. There is no question that From Dusk Till Dawn would be at the top of this list for movies that change in one scene. And a film that made me rethink the whole movie after one scene would be Frailty. A very underrated film that should have put Bill Paxton on the map.

    1. patheticlionsfansays:

      Yes, Frailty in the montage at the end changes everything.

  29. GeorgianRevivalsays:

    I remember the collective gasp of the audience in Cache (Hidden).

  30. Ian 'link' Fletchersays:

    Audition for me.

    1. usirasays:

      I agree! It’s a better example than some of the films in the list, anyway.
      The part where the sack moves always startles me.

    2. Betta Mommasays:

      Oh my! That movies flips script in such a jarring way – defiantly a better choice than every entry on this list!

  31. Jud3nsays:

    The Coen’s base their stories on the idea that humans, by nature, act selfishly. This is the same ideology shared by James Madison. Read the Federalist papers and really study why our government is the way it is.

  32. obloodyhellsays:

    “Inglourious Basterds”? Really?
    “Restraint”? Really?
    Ahhhh…. yeah. Sure.

  33. Charlessays:

    Cliffhanger. When she falls.

    1. CTedsays:

      opening scene, how does that change the entire tone of the movie…..

      1. Charlessays:

        If you read the Zero Dark Thirty and Cabin in the Woods entries you’ll find opening scenes qualify as “a change from what you expect the movie to be like”.

      2. CTedsays:

        First, that is ridiculous because those expectations are personal not the fault of the trailer of the movie or the adds. I expected zero dark thirty and cliffhanger to be exactly what they were, and cabin in the woods was vague in it’s trailers so you had no true expectations (unless you made them up).

        Cliffhanger in no way changed in tone becuase of that first scene. Just because you expected her to be saved after you started watching doesn’t mean the movie changed. Many many “hero” movies begin with a loss of some kind, it’s almost expected. Had that scene been cut (or he saved her) nothing about the movie as a whole would have changed much – therefore the scene doesn’t change the movie.

  34. mlauzonsays:

    “The Cabin in the Woods has to be one of the most delightfully surprising mainstream movies of the last ten years, an unexpected gem of a film that came out of nowhere last year and amazed audiences with its self-awareness and incisive takedown of some of the worst offenders in the world of horror clichés.”

    That’s why it was shelved for approx. 3yrs, the movie was stupid, boring, and I am just being nice!

    1. bfg666says:

      Daring, innovative movies often have a hard time getting made and/or released. Ask Terry Gilliam.

  35. laonefayesays:

    No Stay?? Everything in that bizarre film came together to make perfect sense in the ending scene. Let’s not forget the iconic Sixth Sense or Fight Club (for those who watched it before reading it), either.

    1. A.Moresays:

      Those are plot twists, but they do not actually change the tone or genre of the movie. The Sixth Sense always is a horror/mystery/drama for example, it does not change that with the twist.

  36. Clemerysays:

    Seven Psychopaths!!

    The film is ultimately one of those “the movie they’re writing is the movie we’re watching” types, and starts out as a clever and witty crime caper with oddball characters and cracking dialogue, reminiscent of films like Snatch.

    Then, about half way through, there is a scene where the screenwriter talks about how it would be cool to flip the genre on its head and finish the movie with nothing but people talking to each other… and that is exactly how the movie panned out, completely ruining the enjoyment of everything that had come before it. What was looking to be part of my top 5 for 2012, didn’t even make the top 20!

    On a separate note, I agree with the other commenters who point out that a film’s opening scene (such as Inglorious Basterds) doesn’t really qualify for this topic.

    1. Actually, to provide a counterpoint, I loved the change in tempo and the ending (which was not just people talking). Different strokes for different folks.

  37. Drew P. Wienersays:

    James Franco Dumb ASS

  38. TheTuckstersays:

    From Dusk til Dawn and Million Dollar Baby should be in this list.

  39. d12says:

    I would mention Miracle Mile, in one phone call it goes from goofy love story to Armageddon.

  40. Janglemuffin Trapnosesays:

    The Usual Suspects… duh…

    1. Betta Mommasays:

      damn good choice

    2. CTedsays:

      Solid choice, as is fight club above

  41. Jonas Barrossays:

    Three movies I watched that changed everything in one scene: 1) From Dusk Til Dawn, 2) The Sixth Sense and 3) The Matrix.

    1. bizbirksays:

      Ad in “The Game” with Michael Douglas

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  43. Taniasays:

    What about ‘Sixth Sense’. The ending makes you question the entire movie and watch it a second time!

    1. gltofficsays:

      Sorry. Bruce Willis sitting down to lunch with his wife with no table setting and non forthcoming pretty well gave away the ending early. Or having once been a waiter gave it away for me.

  44. blabidybloop90says:

    I only ever heard of 2 of these movies…

  45. Two more that came to my mind….Leaves of Grass and The Lonliest Planet. The first turns from a slightly amusing comedy into an incredibly dark comedy. The second revolves completely around one scene that occurs about halfway through and changes EVERYTHING in the relationship between the two main characters.

  46. bad list reviewersays:

    this list has lost all credibility when bridge to terabithia isn’t on it. if there is one movie that should bumpuzzle you it’s that one.

    1. bfg666says:

      Got anything that’s not a predigested dumb thing for kids?

      1. Tobias Daviessays:

        Have you watched Bridge to Terabithia? Don’t be fooled by it’s trailer.

      2. Betta Mommasays:

        They are right bfg666, that movie is lumped up.

      3. bfg666says:

        Yes I did. Unfortunately. Almost as dumb and generic as that Narnia monstrosity.

      4. Tobias Daviessays:

        It’s…nothing like Narnia. Narnia is an actual place in the film for starters, while Teribithia is 100% created by imagination and it’s imagery counts for about 20% of actual screen time.

        Narnia- Three kids discover magical land in which a magic queen has taken over and they must help it’s inhabitants reclaim it.

        BTT- A young boy is bullied at school.Has no friends until a new girl befriends him, who is also bullied but she teaches him how to react positively. She also opens up his imagination, until something tragic happens and his life is turned upside down but to cope he takes his sister to the land they “created”.

        Yeah, they’re definitely comparable.

      5. bfg666says:

        They both depict a fantasy land that’s a designed-for-kids (read: willingly dumbed down) generic mashup of other fantasy lands, as if kids couldn’t process original and non-condescending material. That they have different stories matters not in this regard.

      6. harmonixamsays:

        Yes, that’s the point. It is at first a generic fantasy film, much like Narnia – that is, until one specific scene that changes the tone of the entire film. It suddenly goes from generic fantasy to heartbreaking tragedy.

        That’s kind of the point to the entire article and the original comment.

      7. bfg666says:

        I know that, thank you. All I’m saying is they could have at least tried to put some effort in the fantasy side of this movie. It’s hard to find anything heartbreaking when it starts so badly. This Terabithia movie simply failed to connect with me.

  47. Mr. 9says:

    I should’ve asked to have been slapped in the face with dick instead of reading this pointless, pointless article.

    1. bfg666says:

      It’s not too late to do it.

      1. bfg666says:

        How come there are idiots to downvote jokes? Not that I care, mind you, but it’s just downright stupid.

  48. yourmomsays:

    the cabin in the woods? Seriously??? That movie sucked, and I saw those whole thing coming from about 10 minutes into it…I don’t get what everyone thinks is so great about that movie

    1. Craigsays:

      It sucked big time.The massive, intelligent, unexpected twist that everyone talked about turned out to be… well, shite.

    2. CTedsays:

      Great film. but no scene changed the tone of the movie so doesn’t need to be on the list. Cabin in the woods is a very tongue in cheek look at the horror genre. It’s brilliant when you see what Joss was doing with the movie.

      1. bfg666says:

        Yeah, but apparently some people are unable to grasp the cleverness and humor of Whedon’s works.

  49. Ollysays:

    He missed “Babe: Pig In The City” from the list. I guess some people will never learn…

  50. Craigsays:

    How From Dusk til Dawn got missed out I will never know…

  51. zirtocsays:

    Fight Club, anyone? That story seriously changes gears a couple of times, but certainly toward the end where it goes from uneasy wittiness to just horribly gruesome.

  52. ComicBookKidsays:

    lol.. Where’s fight club?

    1. bfg666says:

      In plenty other comments already.

  53. How about “To Be Twenty”? Or “Martyrs”?

  54. Mahesh Sabharwalsays:

    Sixth Sense has to be on this list.

  55. Stephen Smithsays:

    The one that got me was Identity with John Cusack, the ending of that blew my mind…amazing movie.

    1. roysays:

      an interesting movie as it unfolds and your trying to figure out along with cusack whats happening. and the mark if the quality of the film is you can enjoy it a second viewing even after you know the ending.

  56. texshelterssays:

    The shower scenein Psycho changed movie history and the tone of the movie from strange to dark. Not only were audiences shocked at the violence, but it was shocking to see the tragic end of a main character, a Hollywood starlet nonetheless.


  57. SinisterKidsays:

    Mulholland Dr., yo!!!!!

  58. Ericsays:

    TLDR; Let me list a number of recent movies that were generally well received and then tell you they deserved more credit than they got.

  59. Seansays:

    For me, it was The Devil’s Advocate. I went to see it with a bunch of friends not knowing anything about the movie, and became locked into the sense that it was one of those trial/lawyer movies. I was interested enough, but then came the dressing room scene. Suddenly one of women became disfigured and evil and demon like, and I shot up in my seat feeling thoroughly disoriented and thinking WHAT THE HELL?!? I stayed on the edge of that seat for the rest of the movie.

    1. Miss Moneypennysays:

      While I loved The Devil’s Advocate, you gotta admit, from the moment we meet Al Pacino, you knew he was the devil! lol

    2. Vanessa Hutchesonsays:

      His name was “John Milton.” That has all the subtlety of being hit head-on with a freight train.

  60. McMuguetssays:

    Iron Man 3, as soon as they revealed the whole Mandarin sketch, shit went downhill

    1. bfg666says:

      On the contrary, it was possibly the most brilliant idea the writer had and the whole thing was wonderfully played by Kingsley. I get that it’s not every fanboy’s idea of the Mandarin but if you can put your sectarism aside for a minute and consider the change objectively, you’ll realize it actually was much better than to include him straight from the comics. I mean, a wacko with delusions of grandeur and 10 magic rings? Yeah right, absolutely not cheesy at all!

      1. McMuguetssays:

        I think the way he was being adapted to the big screen was fantastic, a modern day terrorist-like villain? Great. I’m a fan of the comics for sure, but the Mandarin isn’t precisely a character that has aged well. That being said, the ‘twist’ felt unnecesary, the movie could have kept the character as it was and, in my humble opinion, it could have still felt like a proper villain according to what the movie had shown up to that point. The twist was more a gimmick to me, it didn’t add anything, if anything, it gave us instead a replacement for the Mandarin who was far less engaging and interesting than what Sir Ben Kingsley had done so far. The man was killing it as the Mandarin, I wish things had stayed that way. That’s how I see it anyway, I get why lots of people loved the movie and that’s fine by me, I just wasn’t one of them.

      2. bfg666says:

        I, for one, loved that this fearsome terrorist leader was really just a facade for the devious Killian and that the man was in fact a whiny actor. It showed that Killian had masterminded the whole thing since the very beginning (if you recall, the Ten Rings were the terrorist group who abducted Stark in IM1) and that he, the real Mandarin, was truly Iron Man’s most dangerous foe, just like in the comics.

        I saw the second part of Kingsley’s role as a hilarious commentary on the vanity of actors who can be whatever they choose to be in front of the cameras but often are petty assholes in private.

        The only gripe I initially had with the change is that the Mandarin wasn’t chinese anymore (OK, half-chinese, but still…), but the original character had somewhat racist undertones now unacceptable by today’s standards and Kingsley is such a terrific actor that it was soon forgiven.

  61. Peter Rubinsteinsays:

    what about empire strikes back, you forget the shock of The Vader reveal after all these years. It changed our perception of the film & the whole trilogy, it still can shock even now, when you now it’s coming.

    1. bfg666says:

      It changed our perception but not the nature of the movie itself, contrary to From Dusk ‘Til Dawn for example, which went from road-movie to gorefest in the blink of an eye.

  62. Ryansays:

    Good idea for an article, crappy list.

  63. john wilsonsays:

    As everyone else Auditio comes to mind, and dont forget High Tension (haute Tension) or even Full Metal Jacket for that manner leaving training scene and jumping into war

  64. Donnysays:

    What about fight club?

    1. bart Hellemanssays:

      You can’t mention it here because of the 1st and 2nd RULES 🙂

  65. Inuransays:

    Seagall’s final scene in Executive Decision is one of those for me. Each of the films in the Cornetto trilogy also has a scene of that sort, which suddenly and drastically changes the tone of the film into something completely different from what it started as.

  66. Mauriciosays:

    Dont agree with most of them. What about million dolar baby? Thats a twist and complete change of tone, in like one second.

  67. Richardsays:

    Why do I have the strangest feeling that this is really just a list of the author’s favorite films, and he’s just trying to get us to agree with him?

  68. CTedsays:

    Cabin in the woods was great but it doesn’t ‘change’ in one scene if it is the first scene. Same with zero dark thirty. No change there at all. It was the movie everyone thought it was going to be.

    How about sixth sense. That’s a movie that changes in one scene, even if you did see it coming (many didn’t).

  69. YayMayorBeesays:

    The Forgotten was one of the best “change in one scene” movies.

    And Cabin in the Woods was probably the best movie of 2012. You also forgot John Dies at the End.

  70. Jose Antonio Moreira Treviñosays:

    Ed Norton in Primal Fear… that scene when extremely timid Aaron transforms into psycho/killer Roy to the complete amazement of Richard Gere´s character… Amazing and I for one didn’t see that coming!

    1. KIRAsays:

      Totally agree about Primal Fear. Also with a lot of the missed examples like The Sixth Sense, The Matrix, etc. But basically those are movies with huge plot twists. Is that what the author meant? If so why didn’t he just say that? Two other great plot twists are in No Way Out (when it comes out that Kevin Costner’s character is a….Russian spy? I think?) and The Village (where the entire time period of the movie is changed in a 5 minute scene). I agree with whoever commented that only this decade’s movies were considered.

      1. Jamessays:

        Problem is that the writer has no sense of the larger history of movies and their twists. Probably just got an AA in communications from a local community college.

    2. Derriksays:

      ^ this

  71. Gypsysays:

    What about “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” For most of the movie, it’s the story of the failing (or failed) marriage of a college professor and his wife. And in one scene, it suddenly stops being that and turns everything you’ve assumed about the characters on its ear.

  72. TheCoresays:

    Where the hell is From Dusk Til Dawn? EASILY number one. It goes from Tarantinoesk crime flick to gore crazy comedy horror in one fkn scene. Epic epic epic fail here

  73. Stabeezysays:

    Kick-Ass. I know it is a little main stream. The entire feeling of the movie completely shifts when he gets stabbed.

  74. Lambertinisays:

    1996 Blood and Wine. The first movie I ever saw that used that kind of plot twist. Everything was going in one direction and then… WAM! “What the heck is happening???!!!” That was the reaction of the whole audience when she took a club and… Opps! Now that would be telling. Wouldn’t it?

  75. voodoochild1975says:

    I always thought the opening scene in Basterds was an homage to The Good, The Bad and The Ugly’s opening scene as Angel Eyes approaches the ranch house. To me, seems EXACTLY the kind of thing Tarantino would do, and I can’t believe it was a coincidence.

  76. Michael Lsays:

    I would say the turning scene in the Matrix where NEO comes out into the real world would be a major game changer, shifting the tone of the film from a weird combination of dark & bright to just pure darkness.

    ANd I agree that From Dusk til Dawn should definitely be on the list, as no film has been quite as drastically different before and after a single scene. At the beginning, it’s a road film but with a dark edge, particularly with Tarentino’s character. But after that, it is an even darker bloodbath vampire film with just about everyone dead.

    And I’m not sure if this would qualify, but the scene in which one of the Heathers dies provides a slight shift in tone, from a somewhat generically nihilist teen film to a very dark comedy.

    Finally, this was not a Hollywood film, but a mid 1990’s HBO TV movie called The Second Civil War shifts tone in the latter 20 minutes of the film. The film revolves around a conflict between the governor of Idaho and the President of the United States, and most of the film is a satire of politics and the media. However, in the latter 20 minutes, shots are fired and soldiers are killed on the air, with a reporter getting caught in the line of fire at the end, and thus the closing tone is much darker than the rest of the film suggests.

    And I”m not sure if I could attribute it to a single scene, but another political comedy called Man of the Year shifts tone a bit. It starts out as a fairly light-hearted thriller, as Robin Williams plays a late night comedian who runs for president on a whim suggested by an audience member. After a more serious campaign fails, he turns his campaign into a comedy routine. And he wins. After the win, the shift focuses to a more thriller approach, revolving around a company’s efforts to suppress the knowledge that there was a major computer glitch that altered the election. From then on, the film is much more serious.

  77. Matrix, Sixth Sense, Million Dollar Baby, Next

  78. Pete Howellsays:

    Richard Lester’s Petulia is another film to add to this list. It goes from quirky to grim in a heartbeat.

  79. smokeysays:

    Harold and Maude, Apocalypse Now, Thelma and Louise, Twelve Monkeys, Jaws…

  80. Michaelsays:

    “spill over”* #9

  81. kamotekidsays:

    the eye… gave me the creeps when she saw her reflection
    brave… good start, then came the bear, wtf?!?!
    dusk till dawn… 2 different stories
    iron man 3… for whatever the intention they have, they just killed batman’s joker or superman’s luthor

  82. Guillermo Mooresays:

    “Being surprised by a movie is one of the unique joys that cinema can offer, a feeling that is nearly impossible to replicate elsewhere”.
    Silent Hill 2 (PS2) and Silent Hill Shattered Memories (Wii) laugh at your statement as the twist in those stories can only be possible in video game form

  83. slone13says:

    Unfortunately, after that truly amazing opening scene of Basterds, it was all down hill from there.

  84. Joshsays:

    What about the movie Sunshine?
    It goes from a very scientific themed movie, to a fanatically religious theme in the blink of an eye

  85. James Lovesays:

    Hard Candy
    The Prestige

  86. OldUncleDavesays:

    Barton Fink changed completely in one scene. Nearly knocked me outta my chair.

  87. Miss Moneypennysays:

    I’m surprised The Usual Suspects wasn’t on here. Killer Joe too.

  88. Blainesays:

    what about Psycho, Planet of the apes and Star wars empire strikes back

  89. Narsesays:

    The Game and Of Course Frailty that final scene changes the perspective of the entire film

  90. James Brownsays:

    How could you leave out “The Crying Game”?

  91. postuliosays:

    Wow. I could not agree with you more, Darren, regarding Killing them Softly. I watched the movie and was not sure what to think, it was mediocre and predictable the entire way until the end, where something clicked and all of a sudden I was slapped in the face with what the movie was truly about. I couldn’t put it into words, but the entire film changed in that final scene, it changed so intensely that the shockwaves reverberated throughout the film changing every scene’s meaning.

    I couldn’t put exactly what I experienced into words, but thats why I’m not a writer and you are. Kudos.

    P.S. If In Bruges and Killing them Softly seem like they have similar structure it is because they are made by the same person 😉

  92. Renato Banagudossays:

    This list is nothing without Usual Suspects, revealing Keyser Soze’s identity was the epitome of a movie twist. This list is crap.

  93. Any Non Ymoussays:

    no mention of The Crying Game?!?

  94. Deathwish the Hunsays:

    Say Anything has a monumental shift when we realize Ione Skye’s father has been hiding something….

  95. Ahmed Ayaz Khansays:

    what abt “The book of Eli”!

  96. timbosays:

    Angel Heart

  97. Alexissays:

    I love your analysis of The Cabin in The Woods! That has got to be my favorite horror movie. So many people in my town saw it, with the hype that it was, like you said, a classic slasher film. Everyone said it was cliche and “nothing new”, failing to see that it was merely using those horror film cliches as a form of satire. I personally loved it, because, again like you said, there was nothing in the trailers that gave way to what the movie was about, it hilariously and subtly mocked poorly done horror films, and it sends a powerful message to viewers, but it’s not spoon-fed to them. If you don’t pay attention, you could mistake it for a crappy slasher flick, and not a work of satirical genius. Sorry if I’m rambling, but it’s so nice to see one of my favorite films praised and respected in the same way that I do.

  98. Rolf Yngvesays:

    This is really a good piece of writing, And a brilliant dissection of scene and dramatic turn. Bravo.

  99. Playhousesays:

    While I like your impetus here, the simple summation of the ‘Before’ series tries to distill something far more vast in a few words that are dismissive and don’t do the films justice. I don’t think the comparison was entirely apt or fitting.

  100. MegaSolipsistsays:

    The problem with Inglourious Basterds is that it was boring. You had sudden, brief bits of intense violence inter-spaced between long bit of lengthy monologue. That ‘intense’ scene at the beginning lasted for almost half an hour.
    Yes, Christoph Waltz was brilliant in it, but Tarantino always relies on some good actors and brutal violence to distract people from the weak dialogue and poor plot. The young German hero soldier was a shy, likable young man, until Tarantino needed to kill him off, so he immediately did a 180 and became a violent, domineering pig. For no reason whatsoever.
    I did enjoy Django Unchained, but Reservoir Dogs is by far his best. It was the only one with a clever plot and sharp dialogue. Kill Bill isn’t even worth mentioning.

    1. “Quentin Tarantino … weak dialogue.”

      Oh, do tell us how all those peers, critics, film societies, and actors clamouring for a chance to speak some Tarantino dialogue are wrong and you are right. It’s your chance to set the record straight and correct a vast oversight of all these eminently unqualified people!

      Drown us in your wisdom!

      1. MegaSolipsistsays:

        He has some good quotes, but the rest of it is just bland. That’s the reason why there is always a person quoting scripture, the make the dialogue seem more meaningful.

      2. Sure, if you say so. I’ll just defer to your expertise.

      3. MegaSolipsistsays:

        Thank you, you should.
        Can you actually remember any great Tarantino quotes just off the top of your head?

      4. Yessir, I can. My fave involves a certain Asian-American gently discussing her aversion to Chinese or American pejoratives. Anyway, it’s an unfair question as I memorize dialogue for fun (usually with a lingering scorn for never having made the cast of my high school Shakespeare productions).

        But I digress.

      5. MegaSolipsistsays:

        You mean the one where Lucy Lui decides to speak in English for no reason other than to show the others she is serious? She’s surrounded by Japanese people who all speak Japanese, and I don’t think any of them spoke English, though maybe a few of them might. She even needed a translator. That whole scene was terrible, especially the part where she ran across the table and cut that guy’s head off.

      6. Well, so much for trying to end on a cordial note.

      7. MegaSolipsistsays:

        Perhaps I am being a bit harsh. I admit Christoph Waltz has good lines.
        “Oh, you silver-tongued devil, you.”

  101. Alex Lesliesays:

    sideways is in my top 10 least favorite movies. so was burn after reading.

  102. Mjsksays:

    I didn’t really like Inglourious Basterds. I prefer Quentin Tarantino’s other stylized, fun movies. Inglourious Basterds was just too mainstream and bland. I know a lot of people will disagree with me.

  103. Rufusstansays:

    If I’m looking at movies like that, its going beyond the straight reveal like in The Usual Suspects, to the point where it changes your perspective of everything that happened before. Things like:

    Angel Heart (as mentioned earlier)
    Fight Club
    Dark City
    The Machinist
    12 Monkeys

  104. SkyeGaborsays:

    Its mean we will watch full entertainment in One scene of the 10 Movie.I can not believe it that what could be Possible for that it?


  105. Canadiansays:

    Uh, Psycho?

  106. PBastillesays:

    Salvador. 1986, Oliver Stone Dir., James Woods and Jim Belushi. Pretty funny movie until they come across the bodies at the roadside.

  107. James Pricesays:

    How about Sixth Sense? That scene was the whole hook of that movie.

  108. joesays:

    so who is the gir on the cover for the list

    1. Jay Champagnesays:

      she’s the main character from Cabin in the Woods

  109. EmaWeatherfordsays:

    A Lots of Movie can be change in One scene .


  110. Dave Clarysays:

    For me, I think near the conclusion of Constantine, the scene where Johnny finally breaks down and prays for help is one of these moments. The prayer is brilliant in its simplicity, honesty and need — and God’s subtle answer raises this movie from average Keanu action film to something amazing.

  111. Tim Westsays:

    Where the hell is The Ringer? If you judged it by the trailers alone, you would think it was about making fun of the Special Olympics when it was actually something totally different and warming. Yeah, you knew at the end of the film Jeffy would remain friends with the others, but it was more enduring.

  112. Tim Westsays:

    Oh yeah, where is Choke?

  113. rerun717says:

    “Basterds” is one of the most suspenseful movies ever. I consider it Tarantino’s greatest film.

  114. No love for “Un borghese piccolo piccolo”? Massive fail.

  115. roger ebertsays:

    Beyond the Pines !!!! – the shift made me vomit my expectations for the film all out the window

    1. Dick Carsonsays:

      Ebert nailed it with that one! no other film in the history of time has had such a massive and invasive para-dime shift in plot and character developments. Also, this list is sh!t and the author should be massacred..

      1. f00768500says:

        Sorry to go all “grammar cop” on you, but sn’t it “paradigm”?

        …unless you were going for a deliberate pun!

  116. Neiblessays:

    Children of Men

  117. OnECenTXsays:

    “….The tension throughout this movie makes No Country for Old Men’s tensest moments seem like Home Alone by comparison.”

    REALLY!? N.C.f.O.M. scene at the motel is the most intense scene I’ve ever seen!? I.B. opening sequence is intense….. But NCfOM’s motel sequence is by far more intense.

  118. Joey Gonzalezsays:

    From Dusk Till Dawn?

  119. Gagandeep Singh Bainssays:

    the uninvited….

  120. Caseysays:

    I would add “Unbreakable: to this list. Did not see the ending coming

    1. f00768500says:

      THANK you: was starting to wonder if anyone would pick up on that one after the “Sixth Sense” mentions!

  121. Bad Joo Joosays:

    Nice list. I’m intrigued enough to check out some of these films now. A couple of others I’d add include Se7en, where the bad guy surrenders right in the middle of the investigation. Or Very Bad Things, that starts off appearing to be a light comedy, but turns into a bloodbath. The same could also be said about Nurse Betty.

  122. mtspace evolvdsays:

    Mememto…no story has ever been such art! i can think of 4 scenes each blew my mind in 10 seconds and resonated shock waves through me the next 20 times i watched it.

  123. Ched Groundhegginsays:

    Jackie Brown is Tarintino’s best film. It doesn’t resort to the gimmicks of his other films. That being said I thoroughly enjoy his catalog.

  124. jjollasays:

    there is *never* any point to a Coens movie. Each one is basically the same: dimwitted no-gooders from nowehere-usa running fowl of some accident or misfortune as they try to swindle someone. Each movie leaves me completely unsatisfied .. a bit like trying to eat a salad without any seasoning. All Coen movies are vacuous.

    1. Briansays:

      I’d hate to be associated with someone as depressed and void of life and enjoyment as you are. Coen brothers make fantastic movies, if you’re missing the point of them that’s your agenda…not theirs.

      Though Burn After Reading is probably their weakest piece. Can’t stand that one.

  125. Cretiensays:

    “I’m always surprised that Inglourious Basterds isn’t universally regarded as Quentin Tarantino’s singular masterpiece. I would have thought more people would have seen it the way I have come to think of it, as his most mature and coherently realized piece of work to date…”

    That’s because Inglourious Basterds isn’t his most mature work to date, Jackie Brown is.

  126. istravinsays:

    This is the stupidest list I’ve ever read in my life

  127. David Mooresays:

    Movie sucked by Derailed with Jennifer Aniston.

  128. Jessy Southard Strohmeyersays:

    The Invention of Lying. It wasn’t a great movie, but it definitely fits this list. You expect a silly comedy, and then halfway through he’s making up the story of heaven to comfort a dying parent. Never expected to cry going into that one.

  129. Tranmansays:

    Come on. The best movie example of changing completely in one scene had to be “Lean On Me”, where Joe Clark starts down the hallway, and the hallway time warps and the music changes to Guns and Roses’ Welcome to the Jungle. Incredible scene.

  130. He who must not be namedsays:

    Inglourious basterds
    “The tension throughout this movie makes No Country for Old Men’s tensest moments seem like Home Alone by comparison.”

    ……………….. no.

    1. eponymous1says:

      Absolutely. Restraint?! In inglorious Basterds? He must have got a bootleg with the wrong label on the cover.

  131. Lylyzsays:

    Like most, I am not sure about this list.. the fact that From Dusk Till Dawn and the Usual Suspect are missing is beyond me… Verbal walking out with his limp while he’s being figured out only to straighten his walk and turn into badass Kaizer Sose…how is that not a ‘ one scene change?

    Someone also mentioned 6th sense which I definitely didn’t see coming and Primal Fear which is the day I realized Edward Norton was awesome. The day I realized he was genius was American History X where I believe the whole movie changes when he connects with the black guy over Laundry.

    Ultimate one that I think was forgotten though was American Psycho. My word I still don’t understand what the hell happened…

  132. Pizza the Hutsays:

    Ummm Psycho? That was a classic game changer. Everyone thought it was a chase movie until the shower scene.

  133. Neilsays:

    bit late to the party here, but….
    if the first scene is the one that ‘completely changes the movie’ then it hasn’t really changed the movie, it’s just ‘what the movie is’?

    ‘scenes that changed my preconception of what the movie was going to be about’ might be a better title.

  134. SCOTTsays:

    In 1962 a film was unleashed that not only “changed” in a single scene, but it changed the way people watched films in movie theaters by not allowing admission after the film had started. The auteur who made this masterpiece was named Alfred Hitchcock, and he literally invented the dramatic plot-changing practice that this article refers to, referring to it as “killing the McGuffin”- a device that he used in many of his films. The 1st half of the film depicts a woman who steals a large sum of money from her employer and tries to avoid detection by driving out of town en route to meet her accomplice and lover. The second half of the film starts when she is brutally murdered in a shower by a deranged individual in a seedy, roadside hotel. The movie is called PSYCHO. I’m thinking that the film historians who wrote this article may want to look further back than the 1990’s next time- MASSIVE FAIL!!

  135. Mullholland Drive? All the characters switch places after half the film. How is that not in your list?

  136. bmoreskyandseasays:

    The Sixth Sense and (judge me not) Wild Things. Those two movies are the only two where I didn’t see it coming…

  137. Coreysays:

    This doesn’t seem to match the title. The scene described in Basterds is the opening scene, so how did the movie change? For a movie that changes in one scene, try Barton Fink. When we realize what John Goodman’s character is, it becomes an entirely different film.

  138. Archangelsays:

    Dusk til dawn. went rom criminal thriller to vampire comedy.

    Iron Man 3 went from menacing villain to punchline villain

    1. f00768500says:

      Re your choice of IM3: again, YES! And again, why I can’t understand the seething vitriol over it!

  139. nashvilletn79 .says:

    I thought the one scene in 50/50 (at least for me) was when Gordon-Levitt is in Roegens bathroom and he finds the book on cancer. Totally changes your view of their relationship in a single stroke.

    1. nashvilletn79 .says:

      Also, I love QT, but to put Inglorious over some of his other films is debatable in itself. Putting it over Django is insane. That film was amazing and QT always having amazing soundtracks, Django hands down was his best soundtrack. Waltz was phenomenal in Inglorious, but just as exquisite in Django. Then add Fox and Leo’s performances and it’s in a league of its own.

  140. Jay Champagnesays:

    The Crying Game.

    1. f00768500says:

      Yes! THIS!!!

      And Ace Ventura: Pet Detective’s climactic scene was THE best “Crying Game” spoof EVER!

  141. nukemallmansays:

    um…fight club?

  142. DASMOOSHsays:

    Ummm…what about the Prestige? The end scene makes the movie completely different the second time you watch it.

    And also Happy Feet. Funny story about a dancing penguin then it’s all of a sudden about the over fishing problem….Hello……

    1. f00768500says:

      Yeah… that whole scene in the public aquarium where Mumbles went all “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” threw me for a loop!

  143. Keithsays:

    Terminator 3. I thought the film would predictably feature Arnold yet again saving the day and somehow keeping the world’s timeline from being changed. Well, the ending definitely threw me for a loop in that regard.

    1. f00768500says:

      …which is why I can’t understand why so much hate has been piled up against it! I thought T2 was the groundbreaker of the series, but T3 and T:Salvation broke the mould, then broke it again!

  144. redsoxu571says:

    If you think that Waltz’s big scene in Basterds is the product of an evolving career, perhaps you missed the Walken/Hopper scene in True Romance (written by Tarantino but not directed, as he needed the money for Reservoir Dogs). The Basterds scene was always in the director’s tool case, and this just happened to be the movie it ended up in (also, at least some of the tension is likely the result of the fact that we have a Nazi interrogation…those dudes tend to make everyone tense up with their tall boots and long coats).

  145. Chris Macsays:

    And The Departed’s elevator scene isn’t on this list… how??

  146. Benoit Lessardsays:

    Here are movie where a great ending change the film perspective ; Crimes and Misdemeanors, Napoleon Dynamite, Prestige or Usual suspect. A weird shift in the middle of a movie (but i dont think you can pin it on only one scene) is Mafioso (1962).

    1. Gloriana Reginatasays:

      The Prestige, yes! What had been a film slowly layering one sheaf of understanding on top of another suddenly flips into a moment of horror so intense the hairs literally did the standy-uppy thing on the back of my neck – only the second time that’s ever happened to me in a cinema. Compared to that last image of the rows and rows of tank/coffins, the expository reveal from Christian Bale’s character hardly registers.

  147. The original Japanese version of “Audition”. I’ve never experienced a movie shift more radically than that.

  148. xXGrizZsays:

    I completely agree with the author about basterds, I love every Tarantino film (even Death Proof) but Basterds is his masterpiece. I believe Tarantino thinks so as well as evidenced by Brad Pits last line, “Utavitch, I think this just might be my masterpiece.” I think Tarantino was talking speaking to the audience in that line.

    I still think True Romance is his best screenplay though.

  149. Squiggysays:

    Seriously, from Dusk till Dawn is the quintessential example of a moving taking a hard left. Did not see it coming at all.

  150. Pugironsays:

    Well you take Quentin Tarantino serious as something other than a hack who copied every scene he ever “wrote” from some other source, so you’re obviously an idiot trying to use flowery language to appear smarter than you really are.

    1. bumboclotsays:

      Or is the idiot the one that thinks any other director doesn’t do that? Tarantino is the one who does it openly and proudly.

  151. Saurav Singhisays:

    Usual Suspects is supposed to be top of the list!!!
    It literally changes in 1 scene!!!!

  152. teiuteiusays:

    Hancock!! The movie completely changed after the scene when the mother of that kid told Hancock she was her wife or whatever!!!

  153. Mike Zodsays:

    No one has mentioned the first “Saw” movie.

    1. scott sprattsays:

      That’s right! and the 2nd one had one helluva twist as well. When that safe pops open (It’s too bad the original writers left after the 2nd film, it killed the rest of the series).

  154. bumboclotsays:

    Strange that the opening scene in Inglourious Basterds actually changed the whole movie. Maybe it went from a blank screen to a moving picture? As far as Tarantino over doing dialogue, this film would probably have benefited from a little more restraint from Tarantino and his endless scenes of dialogue for the rest of the movie, seeing as the quiet opening scnene is the best one. At least QT is a great writer, so he gets a pass, but any other director would be heavily criticized for ignoring the “Show don’t tell” theory of cinema as much as he does!

  155. insert namesays:

    The sixth sense?

  156. sinxcosxsays:


  157. zethonringsays:

    Inglorious Basterds is definitely one of Tarantino’s best, no doubt, but I wouldn’t say it’s his best overall. It was a well realised movie that had its moments but Django had more style and Pulp Fiction is just a modern classic.
    I don’t think it’s fair to compare it to No Country for Old Men either, as much as I love a Tarantino movie I wouldn’t say Inglorious Basterds was even on the same wavelength as the Coen Brothers finest masterpiece.

  158. massays:

    What is the name of the young woman in the thumbnail pic that led me here?

  159. thi86says:

    ‘From Dusk Till Dawn’, Fight Club’, ‘The Cabin In the Woods’, ‘Wild Things’, and ‘Side Effects’. ‘Side Effects’ btw, has one of the most awesome twists that i i’ve ever saw!!

  160. blagossays:

    I think that some people are getting “surprise ending” with “surprise plot shift”.

  161. Eric Von Hollensays:

    cabin in the woods sucked to no end. this article is stupid

  162. Deepsays:

    you forget the sixth sense, unbreakable and the village.. especially unbreakable.. and don’t cop out with “the moment she remains quiet in the restaurant, i knew..”

  163. Keyser Sozesays:

    How the fuck is Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Conversation” not on this list? Not only does the entire movie change in one scene, it changes on a SINGLE INFLECTION of a SINGLE WORD in that one scene.

    1. Keyser Sozesays:

      Also, FUCK Zero Dark Thirty

  164. dazwilmingtonindiesuperstarsays:

    Just clicked cause I wanted to find out who that girl was, anyone know who she is, she is very purty

    1. Bass_Ackwardssays:

      Kristen Connolly (from Cabin in the Woods).

      1. dazwilmingtonindiesuperstarsays:

        Thank you. I hope you get some bass to mouth action in the future 🙂

  165. IronDioPriestsays:

    Full Metal Jacket. That is all.

  166. siobhan o'flynn, phdsays:


  167. Simonsays:

    Strange list. Not what I was expecting. Which, perhaps should have been the theme for your list rather than “Movies That Completely Changed In One Scene”, because, if it’s changed by the first scene, that really just means that you were wrong about the film going in, doesn’t it?

  168. JoyousMNsays:

    I’ve always said the “Burn After Reading” was the perfect movie for understanding the Bush years.

  169. Brian Christopher Comstocksays:

    What about any David Lynch movie?

    1. Brian Christopher Comstocksays:

      I think The Exorcist deserves a mention too. Before the pivotal scene where the girl’s head spins around (and the other unmentionable events), you really had no idea what you were in for.

  170. fazleesays:

    Who is the girl that appeared in the thumbnail that introduces this list

  171. maxwell smartermansays:

    Where the hell is Mulholland Dr, or Funny Games. The “Club Silencio” sequence acts as an interlude to the death of one woman’s idealized version of herself after grief induced delerium clears to reveal the drastic parity between the engenue with chops that astound casting directors and the protector of a vulnerable woman with amnesia to her actual self- a struggling actress involved with the seedy underbelly of LA, and the vulnerable woman in fact posesses all the ideal qualities of the dreamed identity, with the exception of a cruel and manipulative side, she ends up paying for a sadistic display with her life. This is at the very end of the film. How did you miss this?

    1. barfly129says:

      This is the best explanation for what I took as plot holes to date..thanks.

  172. Mikesays:

    and justice for all, best ending in a movie ever

  173. Mike Sugarmannsays:

    > we’re sitting in a pitch dark theater just listening to horrific
    > sounds of 9/11. This is something of a stage-setter, an
    > immediate attention grabber and heart stopper

    And this “reviewer” probably doesn’t even know this is a complete rip-off of Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 911.

  174. Lara Bouillandsays:

    what about now you see me. No suspected Mark Ruffalo as the Head Horseman

  175. pkanextsays:

    Steel Magnolia’s! Sally Field gives an amazing performance of a woman stricken with grief at the loss of her daughter! While standing next to the coffin, she explains to her gal pals the wonder of being there for her daughters first and last breath in this world. The tension was palpable!
    While the whole audience is crying over the loss of Julia Roberts character, Olympia Dukakis grabs their old pal Weezer (played by Shirley McClaine) and puts her directly in front of Sally Field, saying “HIT HER!” “go on, you know you want to!”
    I heard the audience gasp and then as I started to laugh, it began as a swell around the theater, with everyone around me! The next night I took my bff, my cuz and my sis to see it and watch the reactions they had to this amazing movie!
    It was the first time I ever laughed and cried at the same scene! And it’s an experience I will never forget. Almost as good as the first time I saw “Star Wars”, “Titanic” “Gone With The Wind”, and “The Matrix!”

  176. KJTabsays:

    6th Sense, and
    Matrix (blue pill red pill) should be on here

  177. schlaumeier56says:

    I would have mentioned M. Night Shyamalan’s ‘The Village’, a movie that in the blink of an eye changed from being a tense, creepy storybook fable about the meaning of fear and became instead a plodding, anti-climactic unraveling about how the frightening story it had woven unravels into petty, brute reality.

  178. dexsays:

    The Ruins should have made the list. The scene of the first murder (unrated version) set the tone for the rest of the movie.

  179. Tuberskisays:

    Nobody ever mentions Arlington Road. Biggest twist I’ve ever seen.

    1. Darn movie sometimes bothers me at night. Not cool man, not cool.

  180. Jon Tornsays:

    Maybe before your time, but Something Wild with Jeff Daniels and Melanie Griffith is two compeltely different movies – before Ray Liotta shows up and after

  181. T.j. Thomassays:

    Inglourious Basterds: “I’m always surprised that Inglourious Basterds isn’t universally regarded as Quentin Tarantino’s singular masterpiece.”

    So am I. But I think you nailed it when you said that he’d tried something utterly different than what his fans are used to.

  182. Chad Earlsays:

    fight club number 1

  183. Esme Buffaysays:

    I really honestly don’t know what anybody sees in Inglorious Bastards. I honestly just hate that movie so much. If it was solely about the bastards, Michael Fassbender, and Waltz, I would love it. But literally every scene (aside from the great opening scene) with the French girl is just terrible, they’re plodding and tedious and just so damn self indulgent I can’t stand it. It ruins the movie for me, there are great scenes in it and great potential there but it just can’t escape from the crushing weight of the boredom that is the stuff with the French girl. Now I hate criticizing a movie for being boring, I feel like if I felt it was boring then I must not have been appreciating the more nuanced things that were taking place but sometimes things are just fucking boring and that’s the fault of the film maker, not the viewer. If there was an edit where all of her scenes were cut out aside from the opening scene (which she’s really barely in) and maybe her death scene with the Nazi guy I would probably enjoy it, only problem is there would be big plot holes. It’s just a long boring slog through self indulgent dialog, and if you ask me, Tarantino’s worst film.

  184. Prefabfansays:

    Similar to No Country for old Men, where you think this is a movie about two characters, and suddenly in the middle of the film, one is killed! Then the movie is about Tommie lee Jones.. then

  185. Ashsays:

    I agree with a lot of others about Usual Suspect. I mean, the ending, even though it is actually the ending and there’s not that much movie to “change” afterwards, makes you realize you were mind f*cked the whole time! It’s just epic!. But a movie I’m really disappointed is not on this list is Dany Boyle’s Sunshine. It may not be his most famous one, but come on!! It just goes from “t may not be easy but we’re traveling through space to save the world” to “sh*t just hit the fan and everything is falling appart and how the bloody hell are we gonna do this??!”. And the whole movie shifts in one scene, because of one fracking sound! Just one! So yes, I think it definitely deserves to make the list.

  186. Jay Smacksays:

    Lucky Number Sleven?

    Even though it’s very late in the movie, it goes from dark comedy, to simply dark, when Sleven finally has the Boss and the Rabbi tied up…

  187. Heidi McCluresays:

    The World’s End should really be on this list. The events with Simon Pegg in the bathroom scene turn it into a completely different movie than what you thought you were watching.

  188. Derriksays:

    What about The 6th Sense? Fight Club? Primal Fear?

  189. JamesWouldsays:

    Not one single mention about Videodrome? Huh..surprised.

  190. Hywelsays:

    So delighted someone else loves Burn After Reading, a film that makes me fall apart every time I see it. The last scene, along with The Simpsons, Family Guy, Malcolm in the Middle and Blazing Saddles, shows that America can actually laugh at itself.

  191. OPLLCsays:

    The 80’s movie To Live and Die in L.A. should have been number one. The lead character gets killed by a shotgun blast 2 thirds of the way through the movie. The second fiddle takes over the lead role to the end of the movie.

  192. Truthsays:


  193. Trsvis Friesnersays:

    What about David Lynch’s Lost Highway? Polanski’s Chinatown? Hell even Crying Game and Sleep away Camp turned out to have girl with a penis at the end… Didn’t change the films much but were great wtf moments.

  194. Lolasays:

    Lone Star?

  195. Jamessays:

    Geeez.. most of these movies no one’s ever heard of. What about The Crying Game? That should be number one in this category.

  196. Shunk Wsays:

    Great. I haven’t seen a single one of these movies and feel I have missed nothing because of it.

  197. Alex Mercuriosays:

    If this list is meant to be about a plot or tone totally switching gears out of nowhere, then where the hell was Psycho?? We’re on this journey with a woman who just robbed her boss to go be with her man for the first third of that film. We’re emotionally invested in her and her fears of getting caught, and debating right along with her whether or not she should turn around and take the money back. THAT’S the movie we thought we were in! Poor girl gets tired, checks into a motel to rest, then BAM we’re in a totally different film. Genius stuff!

  198. Mattsays:

    Dude, Full Meal Jacket anyone? hello???

  199. Soumyasays:

    Fight club anyone ?

  200. Z_Lauren_Zsays:

    I regard Inglorious Basterds as Tarantino’s masterpiece. Easily one of the best movies I’ve seen in the last decade

  201. mysteryman5485says:

    As I neared the end of this list it worried me, all the movies not mentioned. They saved themselves a bit with ‘From Dusk Till Dawn’. However, as others have mentioned, many of the best movies of this type have been missed.
    ‘Fight Club’
    ‘The Usual Suspects’
    possibly’ Apocalypto’

    But perhaps my favorite has to be John Carpenter’s classic 1988 film ‘They Live’.
    Also, David Jacobson’s under-appreciated masterpiece ‘Down in the Valley’ starring Edward Norton and Evan Rachel Wood.

  202. Bob Barkersays:

    From dusk till dawn I was hoping to see and got as the last one. First time i saw that movie, I was enjoying this up that point awesome heist movie, wondering what path they would take next. I had no clue it was going to turn into a vampire movie. 100% changed the entire plot and emotion of the film more than anything else I’ve ever seen before or since.

    1. InvisibleZombiesays:

      It’s really hard to think of another film that “got me” like that FDTD did! I’m really glad I watched it without knowing anything about it first.

  203. InvisibleZombiesays:

    1987’s horror film “Anguish”, starring the darling munchkin Zelda Rubinstein, throws you for a loop midway through and even after repeated viewings over the years is still a very stressful film to watch! If you’re reading a list like this I’d suggest not reading any spoilers aboiut it if you intend to see it.

  204. OldNHMansays:

    I’m surprised The Sixth Sense wasn’t included. In the scene where the lead, played by Bruce Willis, realizes he’s actually dead, the entire movie changes. Everything you saw previous to that moment changes. Watching the movie the second time knowing one of the the main characters is dead makes it an thoroughly different film.

  205. Guestsays:

    I only know two of these movies…

  206. Nizzemancersays:

    Verbal Kint would like a word with you.

  207. Veronica Davidovichsays:

    Lucky Number Slevin should’ve been in here, consarnit.

  208. Jasonsays:

    I can’t believe they left out The Empire Strikes Back! “I am your father” turned the entire Star Wars saga on its side! That one single line made movie history!

  209. Ezekhiel2517says:

    I think the key to truly understand the message in “Inglorious Basterds” is SPOILER WARNING… the killing of Hitler in the theater. To that point in the movie one could think that the depicted events, maybe were possible or “inspired by true events” among all that happened in that war. But that particular moment changes everything and makes us see the whole movie in another perspective. Here Tarantino is showing how easily History can be rewriting to the winners convinience, and the big part that media have in it. Tarantino even uses a film inside the film to emphasize this. All the factions and characters here are PURE CLICHES, the cortoony yankees with exagerated accents, the evil nazis, the good jews looking for justice, hitler, as a stupid angry little man. Everything in this movie screams DONT BELIEVE WHAT YOU SEE (or hear, or read).

  210. Jonathan Forbingsays:

    Personally, I would argue that the scene that changes everything in “Burn After Reading” is when Brad Pitt’s character is shot in the head. The film became very different after that to me.

  211. Gregorysays:

    I agree with your thoughts on Inglourious Basterds, except I would argue that he already demonstrated his maturity – with a love story no less – 12 years earlier with Jackie Brown. It’s no wonder the reaction to Jackie was more or less muted at the time. It was a total 180 from Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs, and it’s easy to see why Tarantino took six years to finally release a follow-up. So, yeah. Jackie Brown predates the maturity and slow burn of Inglourious Basterds.

  212. Derek Wheelersays:

    I refuse to watch 127 hours because it celebrates a “hero’s journey” that isn’t heroic but rather is one person’s stupidity. If he had stopped a chainsaw with his own genitals we would be laughing at him but because his decision, stupidly, to go hiking in the wilderness alone didn’t kill him we are supposed to celebrate?

  213. The Lone Fedorasays:

    You’re right about Burn After Reading, but you have the ENTIRELY wrong scene. This movie turned into something completely different when George Clooney shot Brad Pitt in the closet. It was going along nicely as a comedy, and suddenly it was reprehensible.

  214. obloodyhellsays:

    Wow. Only seen two of these movies…. LOL.

  215. kid_you_notsays:

    “I’m always surprised that Inglourious Basterds isn’t universally regarded as Quentin Tarantino’s singular masterpiece.”

    Maybe because despite over half a century of propaganda, most Americans realize the Nazis were the good guys.

  216. Paul Thomassays:

    The problem for Inglorious Bastards is the Brad Pitt was God awful in it. I like him, but he talked like he had a cock in his mouth the whole time.

  217. The Cottage. Starts out like a darkly comedic kidnapping caper and transforms into a slasher flick about halfway through.

  218. David M. Sitbonsays:

    You didn’t mention “The Cottage”? It started out as a humorous kidnapping movie with idiot criminals & ended-up as a brutal horror film… Brilliant!

  219. Mikesays:

    Dude – the movie that fits this category more than any other is ‘Something Wild.’

  220. Scott Levinsays:

    Hancock, with Will Smith playing the title role. One scene had dropped jaws and WTF faces all over the theater. That one scene COMPLETELY changed the dynamic of the movie.

  221. Chuck Doubleosevensays:

    I clicked this headline just to see From Dusk Till Dawn in it. I will never forget the first time I saw that movie. Did a complete 180. All of a sudden the bad guys became the good guys, lol.

  222. Riman Rakshitsays:

    American Psycho should have made the list.

  223. bobsays:

    A better title for this article would be “movies that had a pivotal scene”. As everyone else said, movies that completely changed in one scene weren’t on here like From Dusk Dill Dawn (I mean, that’s the most blatant “changed” movie out there. Gangster / Robber / Heist film that suddenly becomes a vampire horror movie after the dance scene), Primal Fear, The Game, god too many to list, and none of them are on this list.

    What a waste of my time reading this article.

  224. Butterfly Dragonsays:

    Sixth Sense is THE movie that defined how one scene could completely change the entire movie.

  225. Shawn Milamsays:

    Surprised Sixth Sense or Unbreakable aren’t on this list.

  226. NMansays:

    What about Dead poets society, that movie completely changed in one scene and unlike half of theses movies it was actually a decent movie.

  227. scott sprattsays:

    No Chinatown? No Unbreakable?

    And I also have to say the end of The Messenger: The Joan of Arc Story was brilliant. When Dustin Hoffman says “let’s pray”, it changes your whole perception of the movie.

  228. ArtRsays:

    2001: A Space Odyssey has great visuals showing space travel in the 21st century as banal and common place. Then, during the second excursion to restore the AE-35 unit, the HAL 9000 computer takes control of the pod and kills Frank Poole. It was shocking along with the subsequent retrieval attempt, the killing of the hibernating crew and reentry into Discovery by Dave Bowman.

  229. ArtRsays:

    I can’t pinpoint the exact scene where Silver Linings Playbook pivoted. I was totally annoyed by almost all the characters in the beginning. Then, it became a charming film and joy to watch.

  230. Aerisotsays:

    Planes, trains and automobiles big plot twist that his wife passed away and that he was lonely was a movie changer for sure.

  231. Bubba1971says:

    The Crying Game, The Usual Suspects and Primal Fear should have been on this list !

  232. McForksays:

    Good article! A good, solid read and well written (which is a refreshing change these days, I’m sad to say)
    I would like to take a moment and apologize for the commenters who complained about films that weren’t on the list.
    Because to me, it’s obvious that a definitive list is impossible. And it’s not like it was titled “The Most..” or “The Best…” or whatever.
    And now I have several films on my to-watch list. Thanks!
    (Although Psycho really should have been on here…;)

  233. FromTokyosays:

    Seems like a lot of people don’t know the difference between twists and a film completely shifting gears to become like a totally different type of movie.

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