Six Movies That Pull “The Old Schizophrenic Switcharoo” Move On Us


You do know about the old schizophrenic switcharoo move, right? Well, pull up a soapbox, my friends, and I’ll give you the long and the short. The old schizophrenic switcharoo is when a film, upon its completion, reveals that some (or in some cases, all) of the characters (and some major plot points) in the movie were not real, and were a figment of the narrators (or protagonist’s) twisted mind. Some films have used it to amazing effect, as you will see on this list. But there are some films that use it so poorly that it feels like s slap in the face to the intelligence of the audience. I will do my best to give liberal examples of both.

Also, please be aware, there are some MAJOR SPOILERS for a few films you may not have seen, so tread forth with utmost caution. Also, and one final disclaimer, in most of these cases I know it is technically disassociative  identity disorder (or split personality), but that just wasn’t as much fun to use as a name for this article, so know-it-all needs not tread and remind me. That just might piss both of me off.

Best Examples:

Fight Club


Not-so-subtle hints like this throughout the movie made people like me kick themselves when the reveal finally happened.

I truly believe that the Tyler/Jack connection in Fight Club may very well be the best schizophrenic switcharoo in all of cinema. Why? Because it is all laid out for us in a way that is super obvious, yet very few of us figured it out before the bomb was dropped (unless you read the far superior book beforehand), and it was all executed flawlessly. It was also perfectly within the boundaries of reason to think that someone who is falling apart, hasn’t slept in months, and hates his life could go on to create an alter ego that is everything he’s not.

I mean, you guys do know my real name is Raymond, right? But Remy, who wears the cranberry leather coat and has the annoying mohawk, he always wins out.

(Editor’s note from Remy: Yes, yes I do.)

A Beautiful Mind


” When I gaze out through the maths, I can foreverzzz.”  Actual quote from this film. Okay, maybe not.

This is another example where it is sort of laid out for us, and we should all know, but it is executed with such class and grace, and all illuminated by some stellar performances (which, for these movies to work, they need to be), so we tend to lose sight of it until the ending. A Beautiful Mind is the true (?) story of mathematician John Nash, and how to came to be beloved in his field, but how he also had to face down personal (and pretty much literal) demons, in the form of other people and thoughts, plaguing him at all times as the result of schizophrenia.

Unlike the other movies on the list, this A Beautiful Mind resonates that much more because it is based off of a true story, which makes it all even that much more unforgettable.

44 Inch Chest


I feel SLIGHTLY bad spoiling this movie, but atleast you know it exists now, which few of you did.

Okay, so you may not have seen this movie, but I genuinely don’t believe this will ruin that for you. What I found remarkable about 44 Inch Chest was, first off, the performances in this film are stunning, and you will find yourself transfixed by the acting power on the screen and the undeniable force behind the dialogue. Next up, and the main reason I admire it and it is here, the film does not try to hide the fact that the characters in this film are probably a part of the main character’s mind. I figured it out long before the ending, but also, aware that there was nothing hidden, so I didn’t figure out anything. Wait, I am getting ahead of myselves.

44 Inch Chest is a movie about a man named Colin Diamond (played BRILLIANTLY by Ray Winstone) who finds out his younger wife, whom he cherishes to Shakespearean levels, has been cheating on him and is leaving him for another man. He reacts to this by having a complete mental breakdown, and he calls his old gang up to get back together one last time and teach this bloke a lesson. Yes, Bloke, it is a British film, and it oozes that badass Brit appeal throughout it’s entirety. And the actors in this film are unbelievable. All I have to say is Ian McShane as a homosexual, and you should all be lining up to see this film. And it is quite clear when all these characters get together that they are just all part of his psyche, but it is done incredibly well, and the performances in this film will blow your mind. A film for people who truly appreciate acting as an art.


Secret Window


Get it? The unraveling of his own sanity at his own hands! Oh, fuck you, symbolism!

Maybe it was because it came out so close in proximity to Fight Club, so I was jaded. Maybe it was because it felt like this was when Johnny Depp began to phone in his performances. Maybe it was because I knew the story it was based on, and even THAT didn’t impress me. Who knows, but when we find out that the killer in the movie that has been “following” Johnny Depp, is actually Johnny Depp, it was about as shocking as seeing that ending coming from a mile away.

And the funny part is, Stephen King had written the whole thing BEFORE he wrote this, and it was called The Dark Half, which ALSO got adapted into a film. How’s THAT for a twist ending.

Hide and Seek


” Oh, I mustn’t have JUST DONE THIS.”

Much like the above mentioned movie, Hide and Seek wanted to use big names to get people in the door, but had little substance and rational underneath it. And it was all so contrived, it was impossible not to see the ending coming from a mile away. Wow, they made Dakota Fanning look like a goth kid, all this crazy stuff going on MUST be her. It can’t be the “always sleeping” DeNiro character, no, that makes NO sense. Whammo. Lame ending.

And if we are supposed to feel resolve or resolution at the end of the movie for the Dakota character, we don’t. One, she has been through Hell, and now lost both her parents. And two, why the shit did she perpetuate his insane behavior the whole time? THAT, my friends, makes NO fucking sense and makes her no less guilty than him. She allowed people to come over, hang out and get close to this insane, rambling madman, knowing they would end up dead. I believe that is called “accessory to murder”.

Fuck that movie.

And One I am Still On The Fence About:

High Tension


Don’t worry, that’s just me out there, so we are TOTES safe in here, BFF!”

Okay, why I am on the fence is simple. High Tension was a great film, scary and super intense throughout, but that ending just left way too many questions unanswered. You can tell me she felt repressed by her insatiable desire for her friend, and she coped with the reality that they would never be together by completely snapping. Okay, you can tell me that, but can you tell me who the fuck was driving the truck when she was also in the back with her friend?

See, as much as I adore 90% of the film, questions like that linger, unanswered in my mind, forever, and that is why it goes into the “On The Fence” category by itself. So which ones did I miss, which schizo twist ending is your fave, and what was I wrong about? Take to the comments and let us know. Get it? Us. Sorry, had to slip one more in.

And before you go, do you want to know what television show is my guilty pleasure and secret addiction? I bet you do….

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  1. Worst:
    Shutter Island. A mental institution decides to create an elaborate story to force DiCaprio’s character to come to accept what he’s done. This involves including other patients (who don’t know what’s going on), and having DiCaprio’s run wild around the facility (again he’s a mental patient). This whole things goes on for *days* and times DiCaprio is completely unsupervised (again he’s a mental patient). Surprisingly, the people running the facility are surprised their ridiculous, pointless, idiotic scheme doesn’t work.

    I would have preferred DiCaprio being a detective and investigating a sinister institution.

  2. Pandorum had one of these twists. It wasn’t awfully executed, I worked it out pretty quickly but my friends were all fooled by it. That film’s always bothered me though because it was advertised as a sort of Dead Space type movie but then it tried to pull a psychological thriller angle and the two stoylines just didn’t mesh together

  3. Pandorum? I actually enjoyed the movie, and the schizophrenic twists throughout. Shutter Island and The Shining also qualify, in my opinion. Donnie Darko is also up for grabs, but it depends on whether you believe he was crazy or actually experienced future visions. Good list!

  4. Identity was another one with that sort of twist. I thought it was very well done, but gave hints that there was something not quite right going on.

  5. I have to say that the ending of Shutter Island was more ambiguous then that. It is heavily implied that he may very well know the truth but would rather be lobotomized then live with that truth.

    Although not a schizo story, I have to say that the twist in The Prestige was very well done. In hindsight, it was so obvious, but I totally missed it. That’s my two cents at least.

  6. Remy, I hear what you’re saying about High Tension and even agree with you to an extent, but I think I might fall more on the “best” side. At the time I hadn’t seen any other movie that intense and seemingly mind-blowing so I think I might be more willing to forgive some of the more loose plot points.

    @Gabbi I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed Pandorum and I think the ending had a lot to do with it. As someone who tries to switch their mind off when watching a movie so as not to try and spoil it for myself during, I didn’t see it coming at all and was pleasantly surprised. Had it arrived at any other ending I don’t think the movie would’ve been that good overall.

    @SumDood I agree Identity was pretty good especially considering the amount of Hollywood names in it. It could’ve easily been a jumbled mess, but instead it was really entertaining with a twist I enjoyed.

  7. Wow, there is a LOT of Shutter Island passion on this thread, huh?
    Truth is, I was right between you guys, which is why it isn’t on list. Didn’t love it but didn’t despise it, either.
    Agree on pretty much all your counts. Identity’s reveal was very well done and yes, @Aether, you get five points for the spotting Stannis!

  8. (((44 Inch Chest))) I didn’t think that the other characters were parts of his psyche, though I can certainly see how/why you’d interpret it that way. I should also mention that I really didn’t like the movie, and felt that it was entirely driven by the awesome (awesome!) actors in it. I absolutely loved the cast; and the tiny bits of story telling that were in it were a lot of fun (Ian McShane was great). But then every time it wound its way back to the main story it just lingered there for what felt like forever. I may be shallow (I am definitely shallow) but I really felt like the movie would take a couple steps forward every time the camera moved away from Winstone, and then rocket back to the very beginning and linger there when he’d come back on camera. Somewhere around an hour into the movie I realized that the story had not moved an inch, it had just been a lot of wimpering with a great collection of side comments.

    I wanted badly to recommend it to friends, but at the same time there was just so little in the movie. I think it would have made a much better short film.

  9. @nick… Mulholland drive is more of a wizard of oz story than a schizophrenia thing

    As for shutter island… The book left the end much more ambiguous than the film did

    And secret window… Yes, very similar to dark half, and yes both got made into movies, and taking it even further, Timothy Hutton was in both. And to be fair to the genius that is Stephen king, the books ending was completely different than the movie ending. But to be fair to Hollywood their ending was better.

  10. High Tension ,, well it seems to me that the girl in the back of the truck was trying to get out as of thinking someone was trying to help her . but in was all herself . in her mind . and plus the keys in the door seeing that the main girl came home alone. so the main girl left then came back and knew that the keys were in the door. plus other things . hope it helped

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