Now, I know that some of you are going to look at this title and immediately become baffled, but I promise you that there is some method in my madness. I’ve decided to use these two very different films to make a point which has been bothering me for some time now. Despite their overwhelming difference – Wild Things being an American movie from the late 90s and The Disappearance of Alice Creed being an English film from 2009 – the two films have a crucial factor which I wish to exploit and thought that each proved a good example of two versions of the same principle…

The point in question is twists and turns that can happen in a film which are basically utilised to catch the audience off guard. Now, of course this is an immensely useful for filmmakers to employ, however, this should be viewed with caution. Sometimes, priducers can go too far with this concept, in the same vein that going on a rollercoaster which constantly spins in circles can make on violently sick. It should not be forgotten how much people love the familiar. If you don’t believe me, then just take a look around at all of the sequels and adaptations and remakes of films out there. Astonishingly, 74% of the highest grossing films in the last ten years have fallen into one (or more!) of the above categories. Repetition is great for producers because they have a guaranteed audience already and repetition is great for viewers because they often get a kick out of being able to ‘predict’ what will happen in the films they are viewing.

Audiences do indeed love that feeling of mystery and not knowing where a film is leading – this has been proven time and again with the success of such ‘twist’ endings a la The Sixth Sense. However, where I believe Wild Things went extremely wrong is that they took this idea too far, stretching the unexpected way beyond its limits. This film, for those of you who haven’t seen it, follows the story of two teenage girls who accuse one of their teachers of raping them. A trial ensues and the film proceeds to take one bizarre twist after another which I soon found tedious. The producers just kept switching everything around so that on quickly becomes confused and cannot find a single character of plot-point that one can hang one’s hat on and say, ‘this, here, this is my rock, my constant’. It was utterly ridiculous, but I didn’t ever see where it was heading, so I’ll give it full points for that one. So, my future advice to Mr John McNaughton is to ease up on the twists within the story, once you exceed double figures, you know you’re onto a loser. Viewers do not like to be confused – fact.

In contrast to this, I thought the film The Disappearance of Alice Creed had its fair share of twists and turns, but it just worked. This film takes us through a kidnapping which ends up going not quite as planned, giving us a steady stream of surprises. But the big difference between this film and Wild Things is the fact that the audience is not left in a perpetual state of confusion during the entire course of the film. As each shock is delivered to us, we get given enough time to comprehend and interpret the events so that it sinks in and we can easily follow the story. Maybe what helps to simplify the problem is that the film consists of a cast of just three characters, meaning there are fewer elements that the viewer has to try to keep track of.

I have a feeling that a lot of people reading this will think that it is probably very arrogant of me to presume that I’m speaking for the majority when I am, in fact, just one person. But I believe that when people watch films, they want to understand them, and with understanding them comes the enjoyment. Perhaps I am being too reductionist in my argument, but filmmakers who delight in baffling audiences is a concept lost on me. Please don’t misunderstand me, I’m not a complete moron who needs every detail of a film to be spoon-fed (in fact, I quite enjoy analysing films at a deeper level) but I do think that producers should not lose sight of what they’re aiming to achieve. These are just my own observations as an avid film watcher, attempting to shed light on such a crucial problem