A plot twist is a literary technique that introduces a radical change in the direction or expected outcome of the plot in a work of fiction. In this edition of Trends of Terror, film critic Steve Hutchison reviews 58 horror and horror-adjacent movies with big plot twists sorted from best to worst. How many have you seen?
Face the music!
Song at Midnight is a 1937 black and white production often referred to as the first Chinese horror movie. It is a loose adaptation of Gaston Leroux’s Phantom of the Opera and it comes with a political commentary. It is a musical that contains moments reminiscent of silent films. It even uses written notes that remind of us title cards, but it relies on full dialog and an ambient musical score.
The Phantom is at first represented by a shadow on a wall and later on depicted as a hooded figure with a threatening posture and an invasive speech. He is not the only bad guy, here. We learn to hate sadists, perverts and other alternative antagonists who, in the end, sadly don’t bring much to the story. This is an interesting tale told interestingly, but it is a disjointed one.
The movie’s narrative is chaotic; cacophonic when switched in musical mode. The bad editing doesn’t help. Many shots of crowded rooms result in anarchic character blocking that create confusion. Most of the dialog is overly dramatic, unrealistic or stretches to no end, while deep tragedies go unnoticed due to bad emotional timing in one on one conversations. Expect an unpredictable classic.