Each year in cinema gives us countless movie moments, scenes that come to represent the films themselves as well as becoming part of the cultural zeitgeist for that year, if not longer. There is no exact formula for what makes a movie moment, but whether it is surprising, emotionally moving, frightening, gut-busting or just plain badass, it has to be memorable. There is also a sub-category of movie moments that are defined simply by the visceral reaction they elicit in audiences; these are the WTF movie moments.
These moments leave you shocked, aghast, disgusted or confused, with the common denominator being that they all evoke an instinctual “What the fuck?!?!” from audiences. This year provided more than its fair share of WTF movie moments, but as lists demand, we have separated the wheat from the chaff and whittled it down to 10. This is far from all-inclusive, so let us know what movie made you say “What the fuck?!” this year in the comments, but here are our 10 best WTF movie moments of 2018.
Warning: The following will contain SPOILERS for multiple 2018 movies. So if you haven’t seen a movie, just skip past that entry if you don’t want to be spoiled.
Probably more than any other genre, horror movies produce the most WTF moments and that makes it more difficult for a horror movie, where we are expecting this, to truly shock us. Ari Aster’s Hereditary does just that. After suffering an allergic reaction at a party, Alex Wolff’s Peter rushes his sister Charlie, played by Milly Shapiro, to the hospital. Peter is panicking, wracked with guilt and fear and he is driving recklessly. As Charlie’s throat closes up she sticks her head out the window to try and get some air. Peter swerves to avoid an animal in the road and boom, Charlie is decapitated by a pole on the side of the road. The sickening sound and the reality of what just happened is reflected on Peter’s face and our own, as we think, ‘Did they really just do that? What the fuck?’
Ready Player One-The Shining Sequence
Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One is chock full of Easter eggs and fun references to classic films, but by and large, they provide warm, nostalgic fuzzies more than anything that would qualify as a WTF moment. But Steven Spielberg is a low-key horror master and the quest for the Jade Key ended up being one of the film’s most memorable moments. The action took place in a recreation of the Overlook Hotel from The Shining and featured a truly WTF sequence, especially for those unfamiliar with The Shining. Aech meets the creepy Grady twins and escapes a hallway filled with blood only to enter room 237 and find that its guest is not quite as appealing as she initially appears. It is shocking, disgusting and completely nuts and thus qualifies as one of 2018’s best WTF movie moments.
Annihilation-The Doppleganger Dance
If there were an award for most WTF moments per movie in 2018, Annihilation would probably be the front-runner. Whether it be the intestines moving like a snake in a cut-open stomach or the faceless bear making an eerily human sound, Alex Garland’s sci-fi film, like the novel it took its inspiration from, is full of WTF moments. It saves its biggest WTF moment for last though when, upon finally reaching the lighthouse, Natalie Portman‘s Lena faces off with her double, born from her own blood, she battles herself. There is a suffocating feeling to the scene, coupled with the unearthly score and like Lena, we don’t know what is going on or if escape is possible. This mindfuck of a scene ultimately leads to the film’s ambiguous ending, where we are left with a question of whether it was Lena or her doppleganger that made it out of the Shimmer.
It’s not just horror and sci-fi that provided truly WTF moments at the movies this year, comedy contributed as well and there was no more raunchy comedy this year than Kay Cannon’s Blockers. The film finds John Cena, Leslie Mann and Ike Barinholtz’s characters on a mission to stop their daughters from losing their virginities on prom night. They wind up in a situation where, to gain entry to a party, they have to participate in a chugging competition with high school kids. Only this isn’t your standard chugging. Determined to protect his daughter’s purity, John Cena’s Mitchell accepts a beer funnel into the less traditional end and attempts to chug. When the cops arrive, he freaks and the funnel spits the butt beer back into the face of Ike Barinholtz’s Hunter. It is gross and hilarious and the whole time you’re thinking ‘what the F, is this actually happening?’
Sorry To Bother You-The Twist
Boots Riley’s Sorry to Bother You takes place in an alternate universe and is a weird blend of comedy and fantasy that produces plenty of WTF moments. But its biggest WTF moment, and probably the wildest movie twist of the year, comes when Lakeith Stanfield’s Cassius Green discovers that the company that has lifted him out of poverty is using people like chattel in a way he never imagined when a naked horse-person falls out of a bathroom stall. It is jarring, confusing and bizarre in a way that few moments can match. These half-human, half-horse mutants, named Equisapiens, are meant to be a hyper-efficient form a labor that reflects the dehumanizing effects of capitalism that the film is critiquing. It is a WTF moment for the ages and one that you wish you could either forget, or experience again for the first time.
Avengers: Infinity War-The Snap
Avengers: Infinity War was the biggest movie of 2018 and it also boasts one of, if not the best WTF moment of the year. Ever since we knew that the Marvel Cinematic Universe was building to a clash between the Avengers and Thanos, there was the specter of possibility that we would see Thanos, with a full complement of Infinity Stones, snap his fingers and wipe out half of the universe as he did in 1991’s Infinity Gauntlet #1. Yet, a lot of people aren’t familiar with the comics. Even if you were expecting the moment to play out, you likely were not prepared for it when it actually happened. I was left thinking, ‘WTF, they actually did it?!’ Yes, yes the directors did. Seeing the heroes fade to dust, as their friends watched on helpless cemented Thanos’ snap, now called The Decimation, with a permanent place in pop culture.
Three Identical Strangers-The Truth About Why The Triplets Were Separated
Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. In a banner year for documentaries, one of the biggest WTF moments came from a fascinating and heartbreaking true story. Three Identical Strangers tells the story of triplets who were all adopted by different families and were unaware of each others’ existence until they discovered one another as young adults. But the story takes a much darker turn once it starts digging into why these three identical siblings were separated and raised with no knowledge of one another. They discover that the nefarious adoption agency intentionally split up the triplets, as well as an unknown number of other twins as part of a research project for a psychologist who wanted to know the effects of nature vs. nurture. It’s a disgusting and jaw-dropping revelation that elicits a ‘what the fuck’ with a heavy tone of condemnation.
Like Black Swan and the miniseries Flesh and Bone, Luca Guadagnino’s remake of Suspiria follows in the proud tradition of stories featuring dance that make you feel like you need a shower afterwards. If you thought the trailers had an unsettling quality to them, that’s just a taste of what the actual film has in store. In one of the movie’s most messed up moments, Dakota Johnson’s character Susie Bannion is dancing for her instructor, played by Tilda Swinton. Thanks to the witch magic at play, Susie’s dancing controls the body of another dancer in a different room. As Susie dances, the other girl is thrown up against the mirrors and has her body twisted and contorted, breaking bones and spilling blood. She is left on the floor, a knot of limbs, soaked in drool and urine. It is brutal and shocking and a truly WTF moment.
Thanks to the internet, YouTube and cell phone cameras, watching people fall and wreck themselves, is a national past time. But despite how often we see this, it can still make us wince. Such is the case in Mid90s. Sunny Suljic’s Stevie is a shy, nice kid, with a rough home life who desperately wants to fit in and look cool to his new friends. So when he attempts to follow them and jump his skateboard across the gap between two roofs, we are rooting for him. That makes his long and shocking fall to the table below all the tougher to watch. At this point you think ‘this kid has got to be dead.’ But he isn’t and he gets up, only to have his head covered in blood. It’s a real WTF moment as you are seeing a fragile kid suffer what looks like major head trauma.
Mandy-The Chainsaw Duel
What would a list of WTF movie moments be without a Nicolas Cage appearance? The actor has given us so many over the years but never has his Nicolas Cage-ness been so leaned into as it was with the fantastical, heavy metal, action-horror movie Mandy. The film finds Nicolas Cage’s Red Miller on a quest for revenge, a quest that leads him into a chainsaw duel with a cult member. Let me repeat that: a chainsaw duel. Red battles the cult member, whose chainsaw is absurdly long and it is just what you would hope it would be: cheesy, ridiculous, bloody and beautiful. It also has a crimson-faced Nic Cage yelling throughout. Simply put, it is a gloriously bonkers WTF moment that you don’t understand how it exists, but are glad it does.
Which WTF Moment Was The Craziest You Saw This Year?