DISCLAIMER: This is not a series dedicated to proving men shouldn’t cry, or to suggest ONLY women cry and are therefore inferior. The goal of this series is to dispel the pre-established (yet flawed) notion that being “manly” and being disconnected from your emotions go hand-in-hand. Even the most macho of men enjoy and even shed a tear at films, and the sooner we can admit that the sooner the concept that one sex is better than the other can go away. While the approach to these articles is one of light-hearted comedy, the emotional core is valid. While men might be more hesitant to admit it, movies often times have the potential to make us cry, for example:
A twist in a movie’s plot can change the entire context of the previous run time, necessitating a repeat viewing armed with the newly revealed knowledge. It can also be a crutch that CERTAIN directors lean on so heavily that they’ve become identified as “That guy with the twists”. If you know who I’m talking about, I rest my case.
Normal movie twists can reveal a secret enemy, a hidden agenda, or simply inject excitement into the third act. A “dark twist” is a twist that not only follows those guidelines, but also depresses the hell out of the audience. Finding out Darth Vader was Luke’s father was a great twist, but it didn’t exactly make people want to eat their feelings. Finding out Bruce Willis was dead the entire time is pretty sad, especially when you realize his wife didn’t hate him and was ignoring him, but rather loved him and missed him. I refuse to put any of “His” twist movies on this list on principle alone, but there are plenty of other examples, such as…
1. Dark City
Did you know this movie’s on Blu-ray now? NO?! Go get it! I love this film so much I’ve watched it on laserdisc. Who does that? This movie is a great film noir, which usually means there’s a twist baked in when we find out “Whodunit”. This film not only turns that concept on its head, but then flushes it out the airlock on the spaceship you didn’t know you were on. (foreshadowing?)
The main character is framed for murder, but because of amnesia he doesn’t even know if he’s truly innocent. Then the movie says BTW, there’s weird pale guys that fly around at night when everyone else falls asleep and change things. THEN the movie says BTW the pale guys are creatures that are fiddling with people’s memories. THEN, when you don’t think you can take any more, the film says BTW the ENTIRE CITY they are in is actually a spaceship and no one has any memories of where Earth is or even how long they’ve been abducted. That’s the part that really gut-punches me at the end, that even though the aliens are expelled there’s no hope at all of going home. They’re all stuck on this extremely cramp rat maze of a city in the middle of space.
This film’s main twist is so epic, M. Night pooped his pants when he saw it (allegedly). Teens vacation in a remote cabin, slowly being killed by a monster as any horror film goes. It becomes evident that there’s some sort of military operation facilitating and encouraging this horror. Eventually it’s revealed the reason all horror movies have similar patterns is due to a sleeping elder god that demands particular sacrifices. The horror monsters we know are real, and the stories we tell are just echoes of the time when humanity actually dealt with these creatures.
It’s a twist that not only makes you root for the “Bad guys” but get angry at the selfishness of the protagonists for not dying. Who cares if five teens die if it means seven billion people including children, families, and cherished loved ones live. AND the teens end up dying anyways, taking us with them needlessly. For that, we shed a tear.
Much like M. Night’s films, I must ask you to think back to a time before this film series was considered a joke. Back when two guys woke up in a dirty bathroom chained to the wall, and through low-budget awesomeness we find out about a serial killer who doesn’t actually kill anyone. The idea of giving people a way to save themselves if they’re willing to suffer for it is creepy, especially if the suffering also involves causing suffering to others. Adding the rationale of appreciating what you have makes the villain sympathetic, which allowed Jigsaw to crawl under your skin that much farther.
The dark twist? The main villain of the film turns out to be THE DEAD BODY lying in the bathroom the whole time! It’s easy to get distracted with the shock of hiding in plain sight, but glossed over is the red herring villain, who turns out to be just another victim. Zep was coerced by Jigsaw to do these horrible things, and then he gets murdered for it. Talk about shooting the messenger. And don’t get me started about Cary Elwes sawing his foot off to see his wife and child, possibly bleeding out on the floor of a dirty hallway. (yes I know sequels ruined that, but they sucked anyways)
4. The Mist
Ah, The Mist: A film that did such a good job of making the (human) villain hated, I can’t re-watch it. Horrifying in color and downright terrifying in black and white, this film is a Stephen King film with an actual good ending. And by good I mean so depressing it makes me want to find some random baby and hug it just to feel happy again.
The entire film has Thomas “Punisher” Jayne telling his son that he won’t let anything bad happen to him. Thomas will protect him. Despite all the H. P. Lovecraftian destruction around them, the son believes his dad. Then, as the monsters surround and resources have been spent, Thomas pulls a “Yo dawg! I heard you didn’t want to be killed, so I killed you so you wouldn’t be killed”. He shoots his son with the last bullet, and then the dark twist is that they were moments away from being rescued. He…he shot his son. His wife got spidered to death. I’m sad now.
Ryan Reynolds in a movie that doesn’t suck OR has him shoving jokes into every other film cell? Do go on!
This film could be a play for all the locations it uses. Namely one; the inside of a coffin. Ryan wakes up buried alive, with no idea how he got there or why. Through his limited resources and pure willpower he saves himself. Wait, no he doesn’t, he totally dies! Yep.
Throughout the film he makes contact with an American team (he’s somewhere in the Middle East) that’s looking for him. They suggest they’ve saved someone in his situation before, they tell him to relax. Besides the obligatory hallucination of being rescued, near the end as bombs are exploding above him and threatening to collapse his tomb, the American team tells him they’ve found him. Then there’s silence. Then they reveal they’ve actually dug up the dead body of the person they claim they saved before.
So not only did they lie about saving the last guy, but Ryan Reynolds gets the entire film’s worth of progress thrown out the window, and dies. Goodie.
Like what you see? Secure enough in your masculinity for more? Check out more Guy Cry Cinema or watch Dan on No Right Answer, the weekly debate show that knows what’s really important: Pointlessly arguing about geek culture.