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Overused surprise plots make audiences yawn

By Daily Bruin Staff

May 7, 2002 9:00 p.m.

Beverly Braga [email protected]  

In the past few months, the films that have been released have
ended up being nauseatingly lame. Of these, those containing plot
twists are nothing short of completely silly.

Ever since “The Sixth Sense” oohed and aahed
audiences in 1999 with its “I didn’t see that one
coming” ending, the copycats have come out in full force. The
seeing dead people idea is interesting by itself, but it became the
dead man walking idea that made heads jerk in marveled

Now filmmakers are in love with the concept of creating an
unexpected ending. If they astonish us, the buzz will come.

The history book of horrible movie plot twists is so huge,
it’s not even funny. These types of films go back to before
“talkies” existed. But no one can really remember all
of them because, hell, they were that bad.

Of the films recent enough to be remembered, two come to mind:
“High Crimes” and “Along Came A Spider.”
Released a year apart, both star Morgan Freeman. Unfortunately,
this casting selection is the only notable thing about either

Both movies ended before their actual endings. When it looked
like the film credits were going to scroll up the screen along with
some inane music score, the movie kept on going. The actors
continued acting when the plot seemed to finish. Or so we

The movie continues and then something supposedly startling
happens. Instead of reacting with an “Oh my God! That’s
crazy!” it becomes “Oh my God! That’s
stupid!” Only then do the credits scroll up as we fumble out
of our seats wishing that we had the last 20 minutes of our lives
back. In some painful cases, we wish for those last two hours

Not that these movies were boring because they weren’t.
They merely should have ended earlier, resulting in a better

The movie “Frequency” is a bit different by having a
plot that could have contained two entirely different stories. The
film starts off as a father-and-son bonding flick, then contorts
itself into a murder mystery. A few scenes later, it’s a
suspense thriller. In the end, it returns to the father-and-son
bonding flick. This movie simply wanted to please everybody, and it
was entertaining, for a while. The main story then became lost
within the plot nuances.

Films like these depress moviegoers who are simply looking for a
good story. But there is hope. “The Usual Suspects” and
“Fight Club” exist.

“The Usual Suspects” didn’t win the Oscar for
Best Original Screenplay for nothing. The script and ending are
both great. Like “The Sixth Sense,” it is the kind of
film that needs to be viewed again in order to catch the clues too
subtle to be noticed the first time.

Films that successfully weave in and out of intrigue and make
sense bring the buzz. If there is going to be a tweak in the tale,
let it be one that fits. No stupid story gimmick in the end can
save a clumsily told film. “Oohs” and
“aahs” are more meaningful when used sparingly.

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