Don’t even say “there’s a big twist”

To me, writing a decent movie review requires a lot of tightrope-walking. I want to inform the people but avoid getting too deep into jargon. I want to be confident in my opinion but not be damning to those who view a movie differently. And I want to describe the film accurately without revealing stuff that will alter the reader’s film-watching experience.

So refraining from spoilers should be common sense. They’re designed to surprise and catch the audience off-guard. Put it this way: if you wanted to shock someone with a bucket of ice water to the face, you don’t want to tell them beforehand. The impact hits hardest when you don’t brace for it.

But let’s warp this analogy a little. Instead of telling someone “I’m gonna throw a bucket of ice water on your face,” you say “You will soon experience a sudden cold sensation.” It’s not outrightly stating what will be done, but it does prep the person for some kind of shock. If you host a YouTube prank channel/are an asshole, you want to preserve all the shock you can before throwing a bucket of ice water on an innocent person’s face.

In the same sense, we all want to work together to preserve the shock of a film’s twist. To do that, not only should we not spoil it, we should avoid mentioning that there even is a twist.

I get the temptation, especially from those lucky enough to experience a film before everyone else. A shock ending knocks you on your ass in its final few minutes, you’re instantly hyped with cascading emotions, and all you want to do is express the astonishment you felt when “a certain plot twist caught me completely by surprise.”

But don’t do it.

That twist hit you hardest because you didn’t know there’d be one. When you tell others that there is one, the impact becomes forever softened. It can even prompt them to play “guess the twist” before it happens, which often ends in, “I told you so” or “…my twist was better.” Expectations will be mangled.

My heart goes out to M. Night Shyamalan, cursed to forever be known as The Twist Guy. Even if some of his films were complete wastes of time, money and emissions, the twists in his better films aren’t taken as seriously as they could have been.

It’s partly his fault. It’s partly Robot Chicken’s fault. But let’s make sure we’re not at fault when it comes to talking about movies with great twists.

Comment on the actors. Comment on the themes. Comment on the spectacle, the music, the sound, the editing, the cinematography. There’s so much to tell other people about the films you love, but sometimes, it’s what you don’t say that has the biggest impact of all.