7 Shockingly Unexpected Movie Deaths That Had Us Gasping In Disbelief

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psycho(WARNING: This article contains huge spoilers for each and every film, so if you haven’t seen it, get watching!)

There’s nothing I love more than when a film surprises you. Too often nowadays, films are full of clichés that enable you to predict their every move. They’re too scared to depart from the formula in case they upset the audience or (more often than not) the studio. Some films dare to be different though and rip up the rule book, leaving us all bemused. Below are seven of the most shocking death scenes in cinematic history. These are the scenes that made us jump out of our seat in shock.

7) The Dark Knight

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Has there ever been a better superhero movie than this Batman sequel? I don’t think so. Christopher Nolan dared to take the genre where it had never been before and created a highly unpredictable rollercoaster ride of thrills and emotion. The most shocking moment in the film is when The Joker reveals to Batman that the love of his life (Rachel) and Harvey Dent are about to get blown to smithereens and he can only save one.

Of course, Batman (being Batman) thinks that he can save both, and we as the audience are certain that he will too! However, we’re all left in a state of trauma after the building where Rachel is being held hostage blows up, leaving Bruce and the rest of us heartbroken.

6) Deep Blue Sea

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This one may be more amusing than shocking, but it’s still extraordinarily unexpected nonetheless. It features Samuel L. Jackson giving a shouty, inspirational speech that gets cut short when a killer shark jumps out behind him and gobbles him up.

The CGI is pretty terrible and the setup is so unintentionally hilarious that it’s impossible to take seriously. The moral of the story is don’t shout inspiration when you’re standing near open water and a hungry shark is on the loose.

5) Psycho

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This death scene is so well-known now that it’s impossible for modern audiences to be shocked by it. However, just imagine being a clueless audience member in 1960. It’s a rainy day, so you decide to pop down to the local cinema to sample the new Hitchcock movie starring Janet Leigh. The story seems quite familiar so far — a woman on the run with a bag full of cash — typical noir stuff, right? Wrong! Suddenly she makes a seemingly unimportant stop at the Bates Motel about halfway through the film, takes a shower and gets viciously stabbed by the motel owner’s mother. It’s an astounding plot twist where the film goes from innocent thriller to full-blown horror and changes the course of the narrative completely. It’s absolutely brilliant, as is the final horrific twist in the last scene.

4) Pulp Fiction

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It’s a well-known fact now that no character in a Quentin Tarantino movie is safe. However, with his second feature, audiences were still getting to know Quentin’s little quirks that we all love him for today. John Travolta’s death in Pulp Fiction is particularly unexpected due to the film’s non-linear narrative. We spend most of the movie with his character and then we suddenly shift to Bruce Willis’ story, where he mercilessly guns Travolta down after he emerges from the bathroom. Bad things happen whenever that man enters the bathroom — he just needs to learn how to control his bowels.

3) The Departed

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Leonardo DiCaprio is no stranger to dying in films, but it looked as though he was sure to survive the Martin Scorcese directed gangster epic The Departed until, of course, he didn’t. It comes entirely out of nowhere and goes against every rule in the Hollywood book of rules. You just can’t kill off the main hero right at the end, but Scorcese went there and we love him for it. The way it’s executed is pretty unexpected, too, as Leo goes down an elevator and gets shot in the head as soon as the doors open.

2) Tony Manero

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Before Chilean director Pablo Larraín went on to mainstream success with his political drama, No and the more recent Oscar-nominated Jackie, he made this peculiar little drama about a man obsessed with Saturday Night Fever. It’s a darkly comic and highly disturbing look at mental illness, which features a couple of incredibly shocking death scenes at the hands of our John Travolta-obsessive protagonist.

One involves him bashing a cinema projectionist’s head in after his local theater stops showing Saturday Night Fever. However, the most shocking murder he commits is near the beginning where he helps a little old lady get home. She invites him in and the two of them watch TV until out of nowhere he slams his fists on her skull repeatedly, killing her. The stillness of the scene makes for terrifying realism and the idea of pointlessly murdering an old lady is horrifically disturbing.

1) Caché/Hidden

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Michael Haneke’s suspenseful thriller centers on a family receiving mysterious video tapes that feature recordings of their house. Each one gets more and more intrusive and it becomes clear that the target is the dad, Georges, who has been harboring a dark secret for years. It’s a terrifically twisty thriller that always engrosses and has just enough ambiguity to leave you haunted by the spiraling mystery. It also features the most shocking death scene I have ever seen in a film.

When Georges confronts a suspect in his flat, in mid-conversation the man grabs a nearby razor and violently slashes his throat. The camera never moves, making the death scene seem all the more raw and realistic. Georges’s reaction is also incredibly genuine: He doesn’t shriek or run out of the room, he simply stands in a state of shock and tries to contemplate what has just happened, as does the audience.

Oh look, you made it to the end without getting bumped off. What’s the one death scene that left you in a state of disbelief?

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Fat Girl (A Ma Soeur!) (2001)

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Director: Catherine Breillat

Stars: Anaïs Reboux, Roxane Mesquida, Libero De Rienzo

Fat is fabulous!

Sex-obsessed director, Catherine Breillat has only gone and done another film about sex! Well, actually Fat Girl is over a decade old now so she’s done a few more sex-related films which I’m yet to see. In fact, Fat Girl is my very first taste of Catherine Breillat and I’ll definitely be tucking in for more if they’re all as tasty as this one. For those who don’t know, Fat Girl tells the story of a chubby 12 year-old gal and her sexy fifteen year-old sister who may as well be called Lolita.

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The film is pretty short and simplistic but it definitely leaves a lasting impression. I suspect that most people would find it boring because the scenes are extremely long and drawn out. The longest bit must be the extended foreplay scene in which Lolita and her fancy man are on the verge of doing the dirty deed. Not one moment of the film bored me though. I found myself sucked into its atmosphere of stark realism and drawn to the engaging characters.

I was also really impressed with the young actors. Anaïs Reboux who plays the fat girl in question was particularly enthralling. It’s important to bear in mind that she was only twelve years-old at the time of filming and it’s a fairly challenging role to play which deals with adolescence, sexuality and sibling rivalry. There’s a lovely tender moment between the two siblings where they lay on the bed and joke together. It feels very genuine and just goes to show how brilliant the two actresses are and how realised their characters are.

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The film builds up to an awkward car journey which ends in a genuinely unexpected and shocking way. Many people have condemned the ending for being shocking for the sake of it; however I don’t think that’s true. If you pay attention to the first 70 minutes you’ll spot a lot of foreshadowing and find that it actually has a lot of meaning which is important to the overall story. I think it’s just the sudden change in tone which people find jarring and off-putting. I’m all for unpredictability though.

Quite a lot of people also complain that the film is basically child pornography masquerading as art. The BBFC even cut the DVD release of the film “relating to potential harm, to address the specific danger that video enables the scene to be used to stimulate and validate abusive action.” I’d disagree. The scene in question isn’t gratuitous (I watched the uncut Australian version) and in my unprofessional opinion isn’t harmful or erotic to the rational human mind. It’s also very important to the themes of the story.

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Prudes should also note that the sexy sister was actually eighteen years-old at the time of filming and that the erect penis is actually prosthetic! It is a graphic film, but it is also a film all about sex and sex does tend be to be graphic. I’m not sure why people get so disgusted about graphic sex scenes in films. We all have sex in real life so why is watching it on a screen so repulsive? Anywho, Fat Girl is not a porn film. It is an interesting story about sexual awakening. It’s beautifully acted and directed, and also has a wonderfully immersive atmosphere. I’d particularly recommend it to fans of the new French extremity and European art films.

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