It should go without saying, but this is the internet. SPOILERS COMMENCE RIGHT AFTER THIS WAFFLE PARTY.
1. Pan’s Labyrinth —- Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) spends the film immersing herself in a fairy tale quest to find her true father, a king. She avoids the brutality of her everyday life in war-torn Spain and her sadistic step-father, Captain Vidal, by completing tasks to prove her status as a princess. It comes as quite a shock when the finale of the film involves Captain Vidal murdering the spirited and bright Ofelia, regardless of your feelings concerning the cinematic meaning behind the act.
2. Night of the Living Dead (1968) — In a time period where zombies were the unique selling point of this George A. Romero classic, no one expected such a deep social message as well. Not only did we have a black leading man/hero, the other characters were all (eventually) open to his leadership and ideas. The only person to treat him badly was a loudmouthed dick that treated everybody else like garbage too. Then, Ben (Duane Jones) gets to be the last survivor! Er, well. Nope. Nevermind.
3. Final Destination — Yes, yes. It is a movie about Death tracking down those that dared to defy his plans for them. Still, when Terry unleashed a torrent of common sense and shaming on Carter and Alex, no one was expecting that bus to splatter her like a bug. I think everyone in the theater jumped and gasped when Death course-corrected.
4. Pulp Fiction — John Travolta was making his big comeback in a key leading role in Quentin Tarantino’s follow-up to Reservoir Dogs. We watched Vincent Vega and Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson) overcome shooting a dude in the backseat of their car and talk down a pair of diner thieves. Vincent even survived almost allowing Marcellus’ wife to overdose while under his care. So it was a jolt when Vincent bit the big one just like Elvis: on the shitter.
5. Burn After Reading — The Coen Brothers created another quirk-filled world with idiots looking to get ahead with short-sighted schemes. Chad Feldheimer (Brad Pitt) and Linda Litzke (Frances McDormand) think the a CD with the memoirs of a CIA agent on it will be their ticket to money. Unfortunately, Chad decides to hide in a closet while embroiled in his delusional quest and is discovered by a surprised and armed Harry Pfarrer (George Clooney). I expected an ass-beating, not a face-shooting.
6. Seven — In another film filled with grotesque murders, the last thing I expected was for the head of Tracy Mills (Gwyneth Paltrow) to end up in a box being delivered to her husband. Like most other movies, I thought.
7. Serenity — I’m still not read to talk about Wash (Alan Tudyk). Goddamnit, Wheedon.
8. The Dark Knight — Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal) was a wild card in the Christopher Nolan Batverse. A wholly new character created for the big screen, Dawes was the impetus for Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) to give up the cowl. This could have taken many turns in the third movie of the trilogy, but any further actions by Rachel were destroyed when The Joker led everyone on a wild BOOM chase.
9. My Girl — Thomas (Macaulay Culkin) being stung to death by bees was a cruel and unusual punishment. Vada (Anna Chlumsky) didn’t deserve any more death in her life and ripping her closest friend from her while he was recovering her mood ring was just wrenching to see. HE CAN’T SEE WITHOUT HIS GLASSES!!
10. Alien — We all knew that aliens were going to be the big scare of this flick. What we didn’t realize is that those motherfuckers lay eggs in your chest and then they burst out. Kane (John Hurt) was the unlucky crew member to demonstrate the ruthless and predatory creature we were dealing with aboard Nostromo.