I don't see how that isn't a plot twist by this definition.
A twist ending is more deeply rooted in the writer’s theme or message. Your understanding of the twist also brings pre-planted clues together so that you now understand the story’s meaning.
Surprise endings are easy, you just hit the audience with something unexpected. (If you’re a little more sophisticated you can throw out some red herrings beforehand.)
Twist endings are difficult. They require manipulation of the viewer’s powers of insight.
Also see SiL’s answer, he has a nice way of interpreting what McKee is trying to say. But where I disagree with SiL is - well, you can simply read my response below.
It makes you go back and reconsider the fact she gets so attached to the dogs even though they're not real dogs, it makes you reconsider the use of synthetic dogs over other synthetics, it makes you reconsider the world the story takes place in -- sounds like a twist.
You think all these “reconsiderations” are part of Taylor’s thesis? OK, every viewer’s mileage is going to vary. But clearly you put a lot more thought into the “twist” than I did. I got stuck on the first item in your list.Is Julie attached to Maggie?
The storytelling is contradictory.
a. She is fond of Maggie; because she gives her a name, and playfully throws a ball of paper to her.
b. She is not fond of Maggie; because she is so cool and distant when she discovers Maggie in her death throes. (She doesn’t offer any comfort to Maggie. Her facial expression shows annoyance rather than sadness or sympathy. The coverage is in singles - no 2-shots bringing the two of them together in the same frame for intimacy. She euthanises Maggie with a decapitating blow from a spade - is this how you would put down a beloved friend? I think not.)
What’s going on here? [Speculation mode /on]
I think Taylor wanted to hit the “twist” as hard as possible. All other priorities rescinded. So in the beginning she fools us with the naming of the dog thing and the wad of paper. Then, post-robot reveal, she changes Julie’s character completely to make sure we understand that Maggie is a machine, because it goes without saying nobody has feelings for machines, right?
[Speculation mode /off]
I’m not saying it didn’t work: clearly it does, but at the cost of breaking Julie’s character. First she shows one personality, and then, for plot/twist expediency, she shows another. This is a flaw that’s no biggie in a short film - lots of shorts work like the telling of a joke: You deliver the set up - you hit the punchline. No more, no less, and nothing deep and meaningful enough to make you “reconsider” anything.
Containment still feels like it's trying to be a scene from a longer story. It really doesn't use its run time very efficiently.
I don’t pretend to be an expert in short-film script-writing, but I’m beginning appreciate how hard it is. That time restriction is a killer. (Incidentally, not one of the Alien shorts so far has abided by the running time guide of 6 to 9 minutes. They all overshoot.)
I’ve worked on a few short films for friends and colleagues (not as writer), but I never bothered to analyse the scripts I was given. I worked on them for fun and favours. It’s only recently I’ve been thinking about what makes a short-film script work (or not work).
I think I’m slowly making headway.
I’ve learned that you can make some outrageous abbreviations in your story structure, not just in exposition and character setup, but also escalations to turning points. These are the kinds of cuts that would be fundamentally egregious in a long-form story, but, for what ever reason, you can get away with it in a short.
It’s deceptive, because if the beginning of your short script retains the features of a normal 3-act feature film, everything feels entirely proper and even necessary, because it’s so normal; it’s what we’re used to. It never occurs to you that some elements of structure can be discarded and it will still work. (Elements that have probably been hammered into you by writing lecturers and tutors, books by screenwriting gurus, YouTube videos, etc.).
, as much as I enjoyed Albrecht’s little explanatory speech, it probably should have been discarded and the running time used to protract the scene later on for the purposes of tension and suspense. It also needs some kind of plot point after the chestburster emerges. No, not the space debris collision that causes Albrecht to open the airlock, but some sort of statement about Ward’s predicament. That’s my feeling anyway.
Containment is the fourth act where the events of the first three are hinted at.
This is interesting. I did not know Fox had prescribed "stages" for each of the shorts, so that they fitted into an over all arc.