In one of the craziest and weirdest horror films of the 21st century, James Wan show the world clever and the filmmaker wasn’t kidding when he said the 2021 feature was an entirely different beast to his past works. clever stars Annabelle Wallis as Madison Mitchell, a woman tormented by shocking visions of brutal and violent murders that just happen to be reality. Now we all know the insane twist that comes in the final act of this movie, which is that Gabriel is a parasitic twin of Madison, and the tumor has invaded Madison’s body to do his heinous and bloody deeds, which are the visions that Madison saw.
Bonkers Twist Creates Bonkers Plot Holes
I won’t pretend that this crazy twist doesn’t create plot holes. If Gabriel was using Madison’s body, how the hell did she gain spider monkey abilities, like the ability to jump off an entire building during the chase with Detective Shaw, or even have the strength to throw a scary hospital bed? Gabriel was basically invincible, but Madison is a normal human being. That’s not the only problem when it comes to the jaw-dropping twist, but some of the best plot twists in movie history also come with plot holes. David Fincherit is fight club has one of the best plot twists in movie history, but when you rewatch the movie, you end up wondering how Jack and Tyler Durden can be the same person in some scenes. Or Seenwhich makes you wonder why Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) needed to pretend to be a corpse the whole time he had surveillance cameras watching Adam and Dr. Gordon.
There are breadcrumbs to follow
Nonetheless, the twist still elevates the overall feature, and it’s even more fun to watch the clues that lead to the shocking plot reveal. It’s like The Sixth Sense, in that you can sit back and separate every Easter egg from the film that the filmmakers have cleverly planted. The opening scene is a huge red flag of obvious clues: Dr. Weaver’s (Jacqueline McKenzie) the campy line from “It’s time to eliminate cancer” is the most obvious, but one of the more subtle nods is the adorable panda socks that Gabriel/Madison notably wears when doctors dragged his body towards the chair. It reminds JoJo Rabbitwhere Taika Waititi punched the audience in the face with Rosie (Scarlett Johansson) shoes. Although we don’t see the socks again, the emphasis on them told the audience that this was a woman’s body.
The next big clue is during the incident where Gabriel is freed, which is when Derek (Jacques Abel) slams Madison’s head against the wall. Throughout the feature, blood always drips from Madison when she’s lying on something, or more specifically after Gabriel commits a crime. However, one of the more subtle clues is the scene where Madison locks the bathroom door. The lighting scheme is exactly the same as the window in Gabriel’s hideout in the attic. This indicates that they are in the same location, as this lighting pattern is not in any other scene outside of the house.
The first half also makes a notable deal on Madison having three miscarriages. It all comes down to Gabriel using his fetuses to keep himself alive. On the more subtle side, the second victim Gabriel pursues is Madison’s biological mother, Serena May (Jean Louisa Kelly). Quite wisely, her introduction reveals that she’s the biological mother, simply because she looks like Madison. In fact, I actually thought it was Madison in the first few minutes before we got a close, personal photo of her face, but the similar wig is a dead sign that she’s related to a tormented girl. Interesting dialogue was spoken before Gabriel captured Serena: “Some say the ghosts of the past still haunt these tunnels.” It’s a clever way to highlight the complex relationship between Serena, Madison, and Gabriel without making it obvious that there are connections between the three in such an early scene.
Given that this film is presented as supernatural, the transition to viewing the dead was smart, in that audiences didn’t link Madison to Gabriel because the story is so familiar. James Wan knows this and plays on our expectations by taking the film in directions that have a “been there, done that” vibe, but in reality, Wan is literally telling us that Madison’s body is committing these murders. When you actually watch the movie, you see how “in your face” these clues are; However, it wasn’t just the clues that led to the shocking twist, it was the fact that we as audiences expect the type of film we’re watching.
Marketing plays a big role
The ad led us to believe it was something in the vein of The Conjuring, Amityville Horror, or dozens of other ghost stories. Reminds me of the way David Fincher missing girl has been marketed. In trailers, the movie comes across as your stereotypical murder mystery painting Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) as the man behind his wife’s disappearance. However, once you see the movie, then the curtains are drawn when you realize that a psychopath (Rosamund Pike’s Amy Dunne) tries to destroy her husband’s livelihood by portraying him as a violent and abusive man who probably killed his wife. Now, everyone who read the book knew the story, but for fans who haven’t read it, you have an unforgettable theatrical experience once the true story unfolds.
Once this moment in clever is revealed, so the breadcrumb trail and filmmaking masterclass make you really appreciate what James Wan managed to pull off. Is the movie perfect? God no, but as mentioned above, clever isn’t the first beloved twist-filled film that contains plot holes. From the brutal murders that revealed more clues to Gabriel and Madison’s past to the low-key Easter eggs strewn throughout, through to the third act, clever is one of the most memorable horror films released in recent times. Whether you loved it or hated it, it’s hard not to appreciate the clever way James Wan told this bizarre tale of a girl and her psychoparasite brother.