How many times have we’ve seen the movie where good prevails over evil and love was here all along and everyone lives happily ever after… Those movies are all fine and good but the movies that completely catch you off guard and have the bad guy defeat the good guy are the ones that can really stay with you. There have been quite a few of these movies over the decades and I’ve been really wanting to create a list of these movies for a while. So here are the top 10 best movies where the bad guy wins over the good guy.
10. One flew over the cuckoo’s nest
Let’s start the list off with a Jack Nicholson classic where he plays a mental patient. The movie follows a the mental patient R.P McMurphy, played by Nicholson, as he finds himself unable to cope with the strict rules and standards of the oppressive head nurse, Nurse Ratched, played by Louise Fletcher. No matter what McMurphy does to try to make his, and the other patients, stay at the hospital more pleasant, Ratched is always there to take him down a notch. One very important element that makes a great villain is that you automatically hate them and want to see them fail. Nurse Ratched is just the most stuck up, controlling and manipulative bitch you could ever come across, which makes her a great opposite to our main hero, the rebellious, carefree and fun-loving McMurphy.
One night McMurphy decides he’s had enough and throws a huge party with the other patients and even invites some girls. However when Nurse Ratched finds out what has taken place, she manipulates one of the younger patients to confess what happened and sell McMurphy out. This leads to the younger patient committing suicide and causing McMurphy to go nuts and try to strangle Ratched to death. He fails to do so and Nurse Ratched has him lobotomized so that he can never talk about what took place. So McMurphy ends up brainless and Nurse Ratched comes off as the scared victim… What a bitch.
9. Primal Fear
Primal Fear is much lesser known movie but is definitely worth checking out. It stars Richard Gere as a high-priced lawyer, Laura Linney as a District Attorney and courtroom rival and Edward Norton as a scared young alter-boy convicted of murder in one his first big movie roles. The movie is about a weak, frail young man named Aaron who is accused of killing a famous public figure/priest very brutally. Richard Gere as Martin Veil, the lawyer, is called in to question Aaron and soon doubts that such a innocent and weak young man could ever even think about murder.
However, as Martin pulls back some of the curtains on the case he finds out that the murdered priest was actually a pedophile who often recorded Aaron having sex with other alter-boys and young girls. This makes Martin think that he could have done it but then he finds out that Aaron did do it… As his other personality, Roy. With this new information, Martin has Aaron committed to mental hospital to get proper treatment for his condition and the two share a true bonding moment while in the cells. Until Aaron reveals that there was no multiple personality disorder, in fact there was no Aaron, and that he killed the old man because he just wanted to and that he has killed before and that he will kill again. Unable to deal with what he has done and the fact that Aaron will be released in 6 – 8 months, he exits through the back of the building to avoid the media and deal with the rest of his career
8. The Usual Suspects
A boat is destroyed, people are dead and the only answer is a crippled survivor who witnessed to whole thing. The Usual Suspects is told through the narrative of Verbal Kint, a man who cannot walk straight, who retells the story of what happened at the docks, why people are dead and what Keyser Soze, the most dangerous man on the planet, has to do with all of this. The actual movie follows five criminals who meet during a random police lineup and join up for a huge robbery. The robbery is successful and they make a trade-off with man named “Redfoot” who offer them another job to rob from a rich jeweler but they then find out it was drugs they were after and the job came from Keyser Soze who is known to some as just mythical figure from Turkey who is also a criminal mastermind. The group agrees to work for Keyser Soze but things quickly go sour and Soze decides that he doesn’t require their services anymore and has them all murdered with only Verbal as a survivor.
From the story that Verbal was telling the cop, he puts to together that Keyser Soze was the leader of the five, Dean Keaton, played by Gabriel Byrne and Verbal leaves the station in distraught knowing that there is a bullseye on his back. However, the police officer starts to think about the story and then puts notices that the names used in the story are just merchandise names that Verbal saw in the office, including his own name. We then see Verbal walking down the street as he starts walking more and more straight and then gets into a car with his associate. Then the police officer runs out trying desperately to find Verbal/Keyser Soze and he just misses him. And like that *poof* he’s gone.
Now I’m putting this on the list strictly because I’m guessing that you understood the entire movie and watched the entire thing without turning it off because you were so confused. The movie follows a man named Leonard Shelby, played by Guy Pearce who suffers from a brain disorder where he forgets things and events almost instantly. He is one a man-hunt for the man who raped and murdered his wife, who he believes is his closest friend Teddy, Joe Pantoliano with information for another friend named Natalie, played by Carrie-Anne Moss. The movie is played in two different sequences where one story is told in reverse and the other story is played in proper sequence and they both intertwine at the end of the film.
So the film is about a man who gets revenge for the brutal death of his wife and he even gets it at the beginning of the movie… How does the bad guy win in this movie? Well, Leonard Shelby frames his best friend for the rape and murder of his wife; even though he knew very well that he was not responsible. Leonard uses his memory disability to create game for himself to feel the satisfaction of destroying the man who “killed” his wife. Then Leonard quickly forgets that he framed and killed Teddy and he can do whole thing over again. This is one of the more creative twists in a movie I’ve seen in a really long time, making your likeable protagonist the actual bad guy is really genius. Too bad more people didn’t end up seeing this movie.
Another great performance from Kevin Spacey to add to the list. Se7en follows two police detectives played by Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman as they try to catch a mass murderer known only as John Doe. John Doe’s style of murdering involves the seven deadly sins where chains a man to a bed for almost a year (sloth), force feeding a man until he dies (gluttony) and a woman is killed by a guy having sexual intercourse with her with a knife attached to a strap-on (Lust). No matter how close the detectives think they are at catching the sick murderer, he always has the upper hand and commits another murder. However, near the end of the film John Doe suddenly shows up and turns himself in and lead the detectives to the location of the last two bodies.
However, when they arrive at the location, John Doe confesses that he was always envious of David Mills’ life (Brad Pitt) and that he always longed for a life that involved a beautiful wife and a beautiful home. William Somerset (Morgan Freeman) uncovers a buried package which happens to be a box that contains the severed head of David Mills’ wife. This causes David to become furious and unable to think straight but then John reveals that David’s wife was pregnant. David then shoots him out of sheer Wrath and completes John Doe’s work. In the end, John Doe completes the seven deadly sins and David Mills will spend a very long time in prison for the murder of a suspect in police custody. Damn this movie is depressing.
5. Rosemary’s Baby
Rosemary’s Baby is just a really creepy and uncomfortable movie from beginning to end and it’s done in such a brilliant way that everyone needs to see this movie. The movie follows a couple moving into the Brampton Apartment building to start a new life but seem to have some trouble with some nosy and eccentric neighbours. One night, Rosemary (played by Mia Farrow) has an intense dream where she is being pleasured by an evil, demonic-looking creature in front of her husband and the other tenants and when she wakes up, she is covered in bruises and cuts. Then a few days later, she learns that she is now pregnant.
However, the neighbours seem to become too involved with her pregnancy and want her to visit their doctor and use their methods of birthing the baby and so forth. During her pregnancy, she suffers from unusual side effects such as severe weight loss, abdominal pains, pale skin and suddenly craves raw meat and chicken liver. Rosemary then learns that her neighbors, their doctor and even her husband are part of a cult who want to bring the spawn of Satan to the world. During the birth of the baby, Rosemary faints due to the pain and when she awakens, she learns that the baby has died due to complications.
When she returns home, she finds her neighbors and her husband surrounding a cradle and tell her the truth about her baby. She refuses to join the cult but feels she needs to take care of her son. The movie ends with Rosemary tucking in the devil-spawned child and rocking the cradle while Satan smokes a cigar and laughs that he doesn’t have to pay child support.
4. The Vanishing (a.k.a Spoorloos)
This movie has one the most intense and, quite possibly, unfair endings in any movie I’ve ever seen. The movie follows a couple named Rex and Saskia who are on a romantic getaway in Paris. The couple stop in at a service, Saskia goes into the station and just disappears without a trace. Rex spends three years endlessly searching for her but he never succeeds… But then he starts receiving letters from her abductor.
Saskia’s abductor, Raymond, soon meets with him and confesses to kidnapping her and that he will explain everything if he agrees to come for a drive with him. Raymond then explains that he is a sociopath who once got the idea of kidnapping after rescuing a little girl from drowning and he has become fascinated with whether he can commit an act of great evil after a committing a good deed. Raymond takes Rex to the service station where he abducted Saskia and then sedates Rex with some spiked coffee.
Rex soon wakes up to realize what Raymond did with Saskia and what he has now done with himself. Rex wakes up in a coffin, buried six feet under the ground where no one can hear him plea or scream. The movie ends with Raymond relaxing above ground at his country home where he is reading the newspaper about Rex’s disappearance and how it is coincidental with Saskia’s disappearance. God, that is so unfair, I thought love triumphs over everything.
3. Fight Club
Definitely a modern day classic that offered audiences great performances from Brad Pitt, Edward Norton and Helena Botham Carter who were just on their way to become movie stars. The movie follows two men, an unnamed narrator (Norton) and Tyler Durden (Pitt) as they create a fight club for men who want to release stress and anger by beating the crap out of each other. All is going well until the narrator suddenly notices that Tyler is forming other “fight clubs” around the nation that are also anti-corporate and anti-materialist. Tyler calls the fight clubs an organization by the name of “Project Mayhem”.
The narrator become scared by what’s going on and decides he wants to leave the organization but he then finds out that not only he created Project Mayhem but he and Tyler are the same person. Hmm, another Edward Norton movie where he has multiple personalities… What a weird coincidence. Anyway, Tyler reveals that he wants to erase debt to the city by blowing up buildings that contain credit card debt records. The narrator tries desperately to stop his other personality from destroying a large chunk of city and the final confrontation has Tyler holding a gun to the Narrator’s head… But the Narrator is really holding the gun to himself and the Narrator pulls the trigger with the bullet going through the Narrator’s cheeks, not killing him, but a bullet going through Tyler’s head… Killing him… metaphorically because technically he never existed.
However, it is too late as the explosives planted in the credit card companies detonate and explode as the Narrator can only watch from the safety of his own apartment building… You know, as I’m writing this, this is a really strange and fucked up movie. But man it’s fucking awesome.
2. American History X
Hey, another Edward Norton movie and probably his best one to date. American History X follows a skin-head racist Derek Vinyard who recounts his time as a part of a neo-Nazi group, his time in prison and his redemption to become a better person. As a new person, he tries to stop his younger brother, Danny, from following the same path of hatred and racism that he did. Danny has been picking up some bad habits from Derek and his skin-head buddies, even by picking fights with some black kids in the school bathroom.
Near the end of the movie, Derek becomes completely reformed having left the skin-head group and started a new chapter in his life while his little brother Danny starts doing better in school. Unfortunately, while stopping off in the bathroom, the black kid he started a fight with earlier in the movie confronts him and shoots him to death. The movie then ends with Derek holding his dead brother in his arms as the credits. This movie doesn’t have a single person defeat the protagonist, in the end Derek’s bad influence on Danny is what killed him. Racism is the enemy kids, the more you know.
1. The Mist
The Mist, on the outside, is just a basic monster movie but on the inside it is something much more. The movie is about a movie poster artist named David Drayton who goes to the store to supplies after a huge storm caused some damage to his house. He goes to the store with his six year old son and estranged neighbor, Brent Norton. When the arrives to the store, a strange mist starts to form around the town and kill anyone who gets trapped in it. To make things worse, one of the townspeople stuck in the store is Mrs. Carmody, religious fanatic who loves to preach the “good” word of god.
As the movie goes on, things get worse and more people start to die which starts to make Mrs. Carmody look better and better to the lost people trying to find peace in the terrible situation. Soon David, his son, and some other survivors decide they need to leave and try to drive away from the mist but they are soon stopped by Mrs. Carmody and her followers who try to sacrifice David’s son to lift the mist away. However, one of the survivors kill Mrs. Carmody and they all dive into David’s truck and keep on driving.
The movie ends with the survivors running out of gas and deciding that they cannot escape the mist, they decide on a suicide pact. David takes the gun and takes out the other survivors, including his son but he has no more bullets for himself. He exits the truck and starts shouting for some creature from the mist to kill him… Only for the mist to start disappearing and the military emerging transporting survivors. David is in shock and falls to his knees and he says to himself “They’re dead… For what” and starts shouting to the sky. One way to interpret this ending is that Mrs. Carmody was right all along about God needing to be paid in blood in order for the plague to be lifted.
Another way to interpret this ending is that you should never give up or lose hope because you never know what will happen and what the future will hold. Either way, the protagonist lose everything in the end and the mist/Mrs. Carmody technically win the bigger picture.