"Gone Girl" arrives in theaters Friday packed with intrigue, suspense and a plot twist sure to leave audiences gasping.
Fear not, there will be no spoilers here from the new film starring Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike and Neil Patrick Harris. "Gone Girl," based on the 2012 best-selling novel of the same name by Gillian Flynn, tells the story of Nick and Amy Dunne (Affleck and Pike) whose floundering marriage comes under police and media scrutiny when Amy disappears.
The movie is directed by David Fincher ("Se7en" — see below), who helmed other book-to-film adaptations "The Social Network," "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" and "Fight Club," the latter delivering its own twisted denouement.
Whether the film version of "Gone Girl" differs from the book remains to be seen. Fans of the source material were dismayed when Fincher implied in an EW interview the narrative had been significantly altered during its journey from page to screen, with Flynn herself instigating the changes.
During a Reddit AMA however, the author called reports of dramatic changes "greatly exaggerated."
Refusing to be drawn on the exact variances, Flynn did say, "The script has to be different from the book in some ways — you have to find a way to externalize all those internal thoughts and you have to do more with less room and you just don’t have room for everything. But the mood, tone and spirit of the book are very much intact."
With "Gone Girl" set to surprise audiences, take a look back at these cinematic shockers: (Warning: Spoilers ahead!)
"THE SIXTH SENSE" (1999)
If you've somehow managed to avoid seeing the film that made director M. Night Shyamalan a Hollywood star and the phrase “I see dead people" famous, stop reading and watch it as soon as possible.
In the film's prologue we see child psychologist Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis) shot by one of his ex-patients. Crowe's next case involves a boy (Hayley Joel Osment) who is haunted by dead people who don't know they are deceased.
The twist: In the movie's final moments it's revealed Crowe never did survive the gun-shot wound in the prologue, and he in fact is one of the dead people the boy is communicating with. "Sixth Sense" earned six Academy Award nominations.
"AMERICAN BEAUTY" (1999)
The last year of the twentieth century was a good vintage for shocking cinema with "The Sixth Sense" and director Sam Mendes' "American Beauty" going on to battle for the best picture Oscar. "Beauty," which begins with the narration "in less than a year I will be dead" spoken by resigned suburbanite Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey), ultimately took the best picture honor.
The twist: Though knowledge of the demise is telegraphed in the opening scene, Lester's death at the end of the movie is no less shocking because of the circumstances involved. He's not killed by his uptight real estate agent wife (Annette Bening) who is seen pulling a gun from the car's glove box, but is shot instead by his neighbor, retired Marine Col. Frank Fitts (Chris Cooper). Earlier in the film Fitts, a latent homosexual, believed he had witnessed his son performing oral sex on Lester, and then attempted to kiss Lester himself, with the neighbors rebuttal sending him over the edge and to his gun cabinet.
"THE OTHERS" (2001)
This World War II era-set fright fest follows Grace Stewart (Nicole Kidman) as she cares for her two light-sensitive children in a rambling, gothic house she is beginning to suspect is haunted. Staffed by three recently arrived servants, the house is plagued by specters and odd sounds.
The twist: It is revealed during a seance conducted by the Marlish family who moves into the mansion (the "Others" of the title) that it is Grace and her children who are dead and haunting the house and the new tenants. In a murder/suicide Grace had suffocated her children and shot herself when her husband had left her for the war. In a double twist, it is shown the three servants are actually ghosts themselves of long dead servants from centuries before.
If the vision of Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) being brutally stabbed while in the shower of a room at the Bates Motel only 48 minutes into the film wasn't frightening enough, director Alfred Hitchcock kept the gasps coming until the final scenes in this creepy classic.
The twist: In the finale it is revealed shy hotel manager Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) is actually the murderer, dressed in his mothers clothes. Norman had a jealous love for his mother and poisoned both her and lover ten years before, with the crime creating a split personality within him in order to deal with the matricide. So deranged was Norman that he had dug up his mother's body and stuffed the corpse in order to keep her at home and ease his loneliness.
Serial killer John Doe (Kevin Spacey) is inspired by and sets out to base murders around the seven deadly sins — gluttony, sloth, pride, lust, envy, wrath and greed. Rookie detective Mills (Brad Pitt) and soon-to-retire detective Somerset (Morgan Freeman) are assigned the case.
The twist: In the edge-of-your-seat climax the two detectives are lured to a crime scene where Doe plans to reveal his sixth and seventh murders. To illustrate envy, Doe murders and beheads Mills' pregnant wife (Gwyneth Paltrow) and has her head delivered to their location in a box. He tells the young detective that he admired his pretty wife and had tried to play husband with her. To encourage wrath, Doe reveals Mills' wife begged for her life and that of her unborn baby, a pregnancy her husband was unaware of until that moment. Doe becomes the actual seventh victim when Mills, unable to control his desire for vengeance, shoots him in the head.