Don’t Worry Darling appears to be the next big psychological thriller hit – one that introduces big ideas and leaves audiences pondering the contents of the story long after they left the theater. Though the film has seen a divisive response from critics and fans, it still sets the tone for a sub-genre of mystery.
This sub-genre includes the films that center around a major plot twist or an ambiguous ending. These are the mysteries with shocking endings that are meant to leave an imprint on their audiences after the credits roll. These films can be re-watched with new value, or left to be continuously pondered.
Gone Baby Gone (2007)
Ben Affleck has spoken on his love for films with darker themes, making Gone Baby Gone the perfect fit for his directorial debut. Starring Casey Affleck, Michelle Monaghan and Morgan Freeman, Gone Baby Gone takes audiences on a troubling ride along with two private detectives searching for a missing daughter.
Though the film itself is expertly done, the ending is the clincher. The two detectives are faced with an impossible situation and choice, on which they find themselves disagreeing. Because of the ambiguity at the end, the audience is then left with the same moral dilemma to solve.
Mystic River (2003)
The 2000s saw a number of films like Mystic River, which feature a great director coming together with a fine script and massive Hollywood star cast for a great production. Audiences who love this type of film couldn’t ask for much more and Mystic River uses the paradigm of its stars to its advantage.
The characters of Sean Penn, Tim Robbins and Kevin Bacon are all childhood friends who have been tied together by a murder mystery. Though the whodunit itself proves to be quite intriguing, the film is more about the dynamic between these men and their loss of innocence. The result can be difficult to handle, but it sure is thrilling.
The Third Man (1949)
Starring Joseph Cotten and Orson Welles, The Third Man is a postwar noir mystery that holds up to modern standards. With an entrancing soundtrack that fits the film with perfection and a cast of great actors, The Third Man is a strong piece and metaphor for its time period.
Following an author investigating his friend’s apparent murder, the film offers a number of twists and turns as he searches for an alleged “third man” who was on the scene of the death. With gripping chase sequences and tense dialogue, the film’s overarching themes about the start of the Cold War are what make it so excellent.
Shutter Island (2010)
Martin Scorsese isn’t exactly known for his work in the mystery genre, so Shutter Island proves that the director is truly master of all. Scorsese’s addition to the mystery and psychological thriller genre is tense and mind-bending, centered around a major plot twist.
The film causes its audience not only to question the events of the story, but to question reality itself. Shutter Island is one of the more re-watchable mysteries, as clues can be found laid out everywhere about the eventual twist. Some thrillers are so complex that audiences should take notes, and Shutter Island is certainly one of them.
Released from a mysterious prison after 15 years, a man is sent to track down those who imprisoned him. A plot description does not get much more intriguing than that. And Oldboy from Park Chan-Wook delivers on all expectations and more.
The film is definitely one of the hardest to take in, as its violence can be disturbing, at times. As another film with a terrific plot twist, Oldboy handles the twist’s delivery exceptionally, though it is just one of the many shocking moments along the way.
Gone Girl (2014)
David Fincher’s catalog of films has a number of great mysteries. He’s behind some of the most confusing thriller movies ever made, with Gone Girl being one of the most thrilling. Following his wife’s disappearance, Ben Affleck’s Nick Dunne instantly becomes the prime suspect. The highlight of the film is Rosamund Pike as Amy Dunne, in a tremendous villain role.
Unlike most films that deliver their plot twist towards the end, Gone Girl presents its twist early on and out of nowhere. The rest of the film shows the fallout of this great twist, culminating in a haunting ending.
Memories Of Murder (2003)
Memories of Murder is one of the earlier works of the Academy Award-winning director of Parasite, Bong Joon-Ho. Though it hasn’t been as celebrated by international audiences, the film is just as strong, following a serial killer in rural South Korea.
The film is weirdly funny, as it follows two simple-minded detectives as they continuously try to put a lid on a case they simply have no answer for. As it continues to linger on them for years, the film leans more into themes of law enforcement competence. It’s one of the many thriller movies that truly nail its final scene.
There are a number of films that take place in Los Angeles and follow a private detective, but few are on par with Chinatown. Following Jack Nicholson’s Jake Gittes, the lead finds himself in a web of corruption and deceit following the murder of a man he was sent to investigate.
The film’s story runs deep into the historical context of Los Angeles’ development as a city. Chinatown tackles themes of patriarchal corruption and the American Dream, giving a take on it that is much in line with the pessimistic views of the ’70s. The script and resulting movie are widely celebrated as some of the best ever.
Which of David Fincher’s mystery films is the strongest could be debated forever and there’s no right answer. Se7en, however, does have the most lingering ending, as the film is crafted towards its major climax. This climax is one of the most quoted scenes in cinema, and has resulted in tons of Brad Pitt memes.
Like with Fincher’s Fight Club, Se7en’s plot twist and wild ending was so impactful that its lines became a part of the cultural lexicon. The film nails its landing, and the results are forever haunting. Se7en is a thriller that could even be considered horror, with some disturbing imagery throughout.
Mulholland Drive (2001)
David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive is the definition of a film that lingers with its audience. Its dark themes and dream realities provide a ton of room for theorization and analysis from its viewers. The story follows a woman just arriving in LA from the Midwest to discover another woman lost with amnesia.
The two attempt to solve the lost woman’s identity, only to realize there is a lot more happening than what meets the eye. Like with many of Lynch’s works, the film explores ideas of dreams and reality, with his usual staple of ambiguity. Lynch treats hid audiences as the detectives, offering pieces of a puzzle for them to sort out.