Possibly the most shocking end to any movie in history came in the final moments of The Sixth Sense when child psychiatrist Dr. Malcom Crowe (Bruce Willis) realized that he was a ghost.
Since then, there have been numerous films with similar themes. We saw characters turn out to be dead when everyone thought they were alive, some fooled us into thinking they were dead but turned out to be alive, some were frozen, some were lost – but they all kept us guessing until the very end.
Here are 12 of those films.
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!!!
The Sixth Sense (1999)
The granddaddy of them all, Bruce Willis plays a child psychiatrist helping a tormented young boy who sees dead people, then discovers that he is one of them.
Early in the film, he is shot by one of his former patients, but we’re led to believe that he survives because he is shown alive and well later on right before he starts treating Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment).
But in the end, we’re shown that he still has the wound from the gunshot and just didn’t see or feel it… because, well, he wasn’t alive.
The Others (2001)
Two years after the The Sixth Sense shocked the world, this super-creepy chiller was released.
The story is about a mother (Nicole Kidman) and her 2 children living in post-WWII who suspect that their home is haunted. Early in the movie, we see a group of people in the present performing a seance, during which the table begins to shake violently. We’re then taken to the past where the main plot unfolds.
Paranormal events plague the mother and her children who are apparently sensitive to light and are always kept in rooms where sunlight can’t enter. They hear noises, see ghosts, and generally are terrorized by unseen forces.
At the end of the movie, we’re shown that the mother was the one shaking the table from “the other side.” It’s also revealed that she killed her children and then herself, and the seance was being performed by ancestors of the family trying to communicate with the dead children.
Vanilla Sky (2001)
David Aames (Tom Cruise), an heir to a publishing company survives a car accident but is left horribly disfigured, after which he is tortured by nightmares of murdering the girl he loves.
While he is trying to figure out the truth in the present, we’re taken back to the past when he was evidently able to resume his normal life after surgery. In the present, his memory becomes clearer and he learns the truth about his nightmares.
We learn that doctors weren’t able to help him and he was left to suffer from his injuries. No longer able to cope, he kills himself after signing up with a cryogenics company called Life Extension which allows people to live in their own controlled reality while in a frozen state. He ultimately finds out that his whole life after the accident was a dream.
After discovering the truth, he is given the option to go back into this dream state or wake up to reality. He choose the latter.
Ten people stranded at a motel in Nevada try to find out how they got there as they’re killed off one by one. It turns out that they’re not real, but instead just the multiple personalities of a convicted murderer.
We then realize that nothing we’ve been watching is actually happening in real life. We also learn that doctors have been trying to identify the one “evil” personality that committed the real crimes.
In the end, after we find out that they chose the wrong personality, we discover that the little kid no one suspected was the culprit.
The cast is led by John Cusack, Ray Liotta, and Amanda Peet.
When her daughter vanishes during a cross-country flight, a woman frantically searches for her while everyone else on the plane claims that she was never on the plane.
In the beginning of the film, we see the mother (Jodi Foster) mourning the death of her husband. Then later on after her daughter goes missing on the plane, the plane crew finds out that she had also died and was never on the plane.
For a moment, the mother believes them, but after seeing visible evidence that her daughter was indeed on-board, she continues searching for her and at the end finds her in the engine room of the plane.
After a plane crash, surviving passengers Claire (Anne Hathaway) and Eric (Patrick Wilson) develop a relationship as they try to help each other cope with the trauma. During this time, Claire begins to suspect that she is being followed by someone while Eric experiences paranormal events that ultimately lead him to discover the truth which he explains to Claire.
Nobody on the plane survived the crash.
The ending is sweet and uplifting as we see Claire’s estranged sister Emma visiting her apartment where she finds a card from Claire that says her life is incomplete without her sister.
The Lazarus Project (2008)
Ben Garvey, an ex-convict is executed after being involved in a robbery that goes horribly wrong resulting in multiple deaths. When he awakens and finds himself working as the groundskeeper for a church, he is told that he was given a 2nd chance by God.
He’s not sure what to believe, but does remember that he had a wife and daughter he had to leave behind. But after being told that nothing he sees is real and that he is actually dead – he finds out that he is part of a dangerous experiment conducting human trials, and that he was never executed.
He eventually returns to his family who thought he was dead the whole time. Starring Paul Walker and Piper Perabo.
The Uninvited (2009)
After mourning the death of her mother, a young girl tries to commit suicide and is sent to a psychiatric institution. When she returns home, she reunites with her sister Alex (Arielle Kebbel) and begins to suspect that their father’s new girlfriend might have a sinister motive for wanting to be part of the family. It turns out she doesn’t.
Anna (Emily Browning) eventually remembers that she was responsible for her mother’s death, and also discovers that Alex was killed along with her. It’s in that moment she realizes that Alex was just in her imagination the whole time.
A woman (Melissa George) and her friends on a sailing trip get caught in the Bermuda Triangle and end up on a different yacht where they encounter other versions of themselves who try to kill them.
This one is way too convoluted to even try to explain. The simplest explanation is that they’re caught in some kind of a time loop which they can’t seem to escape. It’s definitely worth watching, but you’ll probably have to do it multiple times in order to really understand it.
Dream House (2011)
When Will and Libby (Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz) move into a new house with their children, they learn that a brutal crime had taken place there in the past. They’re told that a man had killed his wife and children, and is now a patient at a nearby mental hospital.
After Will decides to visit him in the hospital, he slowly realizes that he and the patient are one and the same. He then learns that he was only imagining his family was still alive this whole time.
In the end, we learn that Will never killed his family, and was only sent to the hospital so that he could be treated for the trauma of not being able to save them.
The Frozen (2012)
Early in the film, we see a woman (Brit Morgan) and her boyfriend arriving in the forest for a camping trip. We then see them riding snowmobiles on the outer edge of the wooded area and crash, but come out alive.
Almost the entire movie takes place in the forest where the woman tries to escape after her boyfriend dies. After experiencing horrifying visions, she eventually finds her way out and walks into a small town where she discovers that she was killed along with her boyfriend in the snowmobile accident.
Flight 7500 (2014)
On a flight from LA to Tokyo, paranormal events start to take over the plane as the passengers start dying off one by one in bizarre ways. As they try to figure out what’s happening, they see a news story on one of the TVs about how their flight lost communication during the flight and how all the passengers were killed inexplicably.
In the end, the passengers see their own dead bodies in another section of the plane.