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  • Adaptation., starring Nicolas Cage, starts as an amusing dramedy about a scriptwriter suffering from a writer's block, but slowly turns darker and darker, with elements of a thriller, until in the climax the protagonist's comical twin dies. It still tries to end things on a high note, though. Another key shift is when Charlie asks Donald for help on his screenplay; due to the highly self-referential nature of the movie, it's implied that everything after that, all the drugs/guns/sex, is being written by or on the advice of Donald. The thing to remember is that Donald's the only character in the movie who isn't a real person.
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  • In-story example: in Addams Family Values, a rebellious Wednesday transforms a cheesy Pocahontas musical into a terrifying action play.
  • This is one of Alfred Hitchcock's favorite tropes, and one that's unfortunately a bit spoiled by how famous his movies have become:
    • Psycho in its first third, is a heist film, with Marion scheming to embezzle $40,000. Then Marion checks into the Bates hotel under an assumed name and it becomes a psycho slasher film.
    • The Birds starts off as either a quirky romance between two awkwardly charming leads, or perhaps a psychological thriller featuring a paranoid Stalker with a Crush. It's only as the A-plot's gradually eclipsed by the inexplicable bird attacks that the movie's true nature as apocalyptic horror starts to become apparent.
  • The original Alien was a haunted house movie in space. Aliens, while retaining much of the horror elements of the previous film, is otherwise straight out sci-fi action... and it works perfectly. And then Alien³ shows a return to the haunted house style of the first film. And then another shift with Alien: Resurrection, which is actionized like Aliens. And then Prometheus tones down both the horror and the action and instead becomes an intriguing, thought-provoking story about mankind's place in the universe and the eternal search for God, which is related somewhat tangentially to the Alien films.
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  • Angel Heart begins as something of a gritty period piece mixed with noir in a similar sort of style to Chinatown before turning into a particularly dark whodunnit, and then going into Surreal Horror before the final act brings us into psychological terror and the supernatural.
  • Audition does this. The film starts out like a romance film, with a middle-aged widower holding a mock audition to find his perfect mate. Things go along this vein for quite a while, until brief scenes start popping up showing the man's "soul mate" alone and acting very creepy. The horror doesn't really start to kick in until after the halfway mark.
  • Australia goes from screwball comedy to western to war movie throughout the film.
  • Each film in the Back to the Future trilogy, while broadly described as "sci-fi comedy", plays with a different genre. The first is a fish out of water comedy that lampoons 1950s and 1980s culture by viewing the former through the lens of the latter. The second is more densely plotted, dials up the sci-fi and is dark by the trilogy's standards. The third places Marty and Doc in a double-barreled predicament reminiscent of the first film, only this time using the Wild West as its backdrop.
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  • A pronounced shift occurs between the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer film, a parody of vampire horror flicks, and the subsequent TV series which, though it had its share of witty banter, was from the start a much darker and more dramatic effort with strong tragic elements. Joss Whedon's original movie pitch was in fact more in keeping with the tone of the series, but ended up a comedy thanks to Executive Meddling. In contrast, both the WB and the UPN networks allowed Whedon the creative freedom to realize his intended dramatic treatment. While the movie is not what Whedeon originally intended, the movie still has its fans, could be considered as one of the few cases where the Executive Meddling didn't hurt the movie, and some fans think it actually helped.
  • Birdemic deliberately imitates The Birds by going from a romance to an apocalyptic horror with Anvilicious eco-tracts, only this time so abruptly you can practically hear the gears grinding.
  • The John Woo movie Bullet in the Head starts as your typical Heroic Bloodshed movie involving three triad gangsters looking to make a big score. But then they go to Vietnam, where The War is in full swing, and the movie becomes a psychological war drama akin to Apocalypse Now and The Deer Hunter that tears apart the bond between Blood Brothers which in Woo's other movies was all but unbreakable, before going into something combining the two for the finale as one of the surviving protagonists goes after the other in revenge for killing the other one. The movie is by far Woo's grimmest and most emotionally devastating movie.
  • Chungking Express starts as an urban thriller, and one third of the way through, becomes a romantic comedy.
  • Click started as a Fantastic Comedy, then very suddenly and very early turned into drama. Guess what part the ads were sampled from.
  • The first two-thirds of Death Becomes Her are a very dark supernatural satire based around the rivalry between Meryl Streep and Goldie Hawn's characters. Then in the last act it not only shifts into an action film but switches protagonists; Bruce Willis's until then secondary character becomes the point of view character for most of the rest of the movie, until the very end which returns to Streep and Hawn.
  • The tone of The Dirty Dozen changes dramatically once the team actually starts their mission. The first act could almost be considered a comedy. The second... not so much.
  • Dream House begins as a suspense/horror movie about a man who moved into a house with his family and finds out that a murder had taken place at the home. After he learns that he was really the sole survivor of the massacre at the house, it becomes a movie about his grief.
  • Event Horizon also goes from near-future hard science fiction to Gothic horror that just happens to take place on a spaceship.
  • This happens to the Evil Dead trilogy. The first film, The Evil Dead (1981), is a more-or-less straightforward horror film. Evil Dead 2 is a strange hybrid of gory, serious horror, and slapstick comedy. Army of Darkness drops almost all the horror and works instead as an action-comedy and managed to become the most popular film in the series. The remake of the first film shifts back to that movie's gore-laden straight horror.
  • The Fast and The Furious:
    • First two films and Tokyo Drift are all about racing. Those films emphasized the Japanese import turner car culture among street racers.
    • Fourth film toned down the import cars and give more time to American muscles. There are also some contemporary western feels in it with its desert setting, gunfights (using cars) and a government agent who works outside the law to apprehend a drug dealer helped by a morally ambiguous anti-hero friend.
    • Fifth film is a heist film with only one street racing scene.
    • Sixth film is a car oriented action film à la James Bond or Mission Impossible films.
    • Seventh film is just like the sixth but have a spy thriller feel in it thanks to characters like Mr. Nobody, Deckard Shaw and Mose Jakande.
    • Eight film toned down the thriller feels and put more emphasis on it's spy genre. This film also more comedic atmosphere compare to the previous film.
  • The first half of Flightplan plays out as an interesting psychological thriller, where we begin to believe the main character actually imagined her daughter and was completely crazy from grief. But then it turns out her daughter actually WAS kidnapped, and every single one of her crazy and far fetched ridiculous theories were right, and terrorists actually DID kill her husband and kidnapped the daughter to get her to look crazy. It ends up as just another generic action flick with guns, explosions, and cheesy one liners.
  • The Forgotten begins as a typical drama about a woman who is told by every person in her life (including her husband) that her recently-dead son never existed and gradually becomes a sci-fi about abductions and alien experiments with the human mind.
  • One of the classic examples is From Dusk Till Dawn, which begins as a dark crime drama about crooks on the lam kidnapping a dysfunctional family, but abruptly turns into a slapstick action movie with vampires over the course of a striptease.
  • Funny People starts out as a dramedy with both dark and normal kinds of humor, until the plot involving George's illness is resolved. It soon switches the plot and the mood shifts to more of a romantic-drama with little to no comedy. It shifts back to its normal mood when that plot gets resolved, with 15 minutes of the film remaining, with the changes made in the shift kept.
  • The Godzilla series has done this numerous times (it would have been a tremendous feat not to, considering that at twenty-eight films to date - thirty if you count the two American reboots - it's the longest-running series in cinematic history).
    • The Showa series: Gojira is famous for being a dark, metaphorical, and frightening drama propelled by the human characters. Godzilla Raids Again, being a rushed-out sequel meant to capitalize upon the previous film's huge success, eschewed most of the deeper story elements but retained a similar superficial tone. The third movie, King Kong vs. Godzilla, was a satire of commercialism and marketing in its original Japanese version, a layer of clever subtlety which the American dub did away in favor of a Fantasy Kitchen Sink that was lighthearted but nonetheless played straight. Mothra vs. Godzilla went back to being dark (the darkest of any film since the original despite the presence of a giant butterfly, thanks to a general tone of bitter hopelessness and the huge threat Godzilla poses), but the next film, Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster, continued the lighthearted formula and made Godzilla The Hero for the first time. This style continued, becoming more and more campy as the series went on (with Godzilla vs. Hedorah having a bizarre balance between camp and serious, with graphic casualties and Body Horror on the part of Hedorah mixed in with trippy, surreal imagery and some of the silliest moments of the whole series - Godzilla using his nuclear breath to fly, anyone?), until Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla and Terror of Mechagodzilla (the latter of which has a human sidestory that ends in tragedy for the first time since the original movie) established themselves as the most serious Godzilla movies in over a decade just in time for the series to be put on hiatus.
    • The Heisei series: The Return of Godzilla, with its horror elements meant to contrast against the image of child-friendly campiness that most of the previous series had established in the minds of the general public while using the nuclear power motif more as a plot device than something to deal with thematically, is perhaps most similar in genre and tone to the second movie. Godzilla vs. Biollante, in addition to tackling themes of the pros and cons of genetic engineering and the ethics of science and business practices in general, also featured a heavy element of espionage, broadened the more underplayed science fiction elements from the previous film, and began introducing mystical concepts like Miki Saegusa's psychic powers and Erica's soul being transferred to Biollante. With the next two movies, the series quickly evolved into an outright science fiction Fantasy Kitchen Sink (though the final film, Godzilla vs. Destoroyah, is easily the saddest and one of the darkest of the series in spite of retaining the sci-fi/fantasy mix that most of the movies leading up to it had established, with a bittersweet ending in which Godzilla is Killed Off for Real, but in the process causes Godzilla Junior to mutate into a fully-grown Godzilla to replace him).
    • The Millennium series: Godzilla 2000 and the movies following it have been primarily based in general sci-fi action, with Godzilla 2000 being the darkest, the subsequent Godzilla vs. Megaguirus being the lightest, and the two Mechagodzilla movies being somewhere in-between. The big exception is Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack!, which returned the series back to its original roots once again via the most violent and horrific interpretation of Godzilla's character of the entire franchise, with fantasy elements replacing most of the science fiction that usually forms the basis for each movie. The last of the Japanese entries to date, Godzilla: Final Wars, was a bizarre, crazed tribute to the campiness of the Showa series. It took the plot of the classic Destroy All Monsters and turned everything in it Up to Eleven while simultaneously injecting seemingly-random references to contemporary sci-fi action movies (most obviously The Matrix) left and right and doing much to give itself a unique tone through the replacement of the orchestral score traditional to the series in favor of rock and techno music.
  • The Hangover and its first sequel were both gross-out comedies, but The Hangover Part III is more of an action film with darkly comic elements thrown in.
  • Il Ragazzo Invisibile starts off as a teen Sex Comedy, before turning into a superhero action film half way through.
  • Hot Fuzz spends the first half humorously deconstructing Nineties action film clichés, and spends the second half playing every single one of those clichés straight.
  • Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is set in The '50s and based on science fiction of that era. All three previous films were more heavily based on adventure serials of the pre-war period. This is disputed by some of the film's detractors who argue that it's just the same adventure serial formula from the first three films, except with a vague sci-fi element in it.
  • James Bond codified Tuxedo and Martini spy fiction, but sometimes it tries to be something else.
  • Jaws starts off like a drama horror film that slowly builds suspense and makes some statements on society through various townspeople. Then, a few minutes after the halfway-mark, it launches into an epic Moby-Dick-style battle at sea with the shark and just the three main characters.
  • Kill List sets itself up as a pretty standard (if unusually gory) crime thriller/hitman movie; then, about two-thirds of the way in, a weird, vaguely druidic Cult shows up, and the film abruptly shifts into horror territory.
  • Legally Blonde should end about 2/3 through, as technically Elle has accomplished her revised goal (instead of chasing Warner, she has become a serious person). Instead, she gets applied to a legal case. It's still a fun movie, and the musical revises this by making Emmitt a legitimate romantic lead that you want Elle to be with at the end.
  • The Oscar-winning film La Vita è bella (In English, Life Is Beautiful) begins as a very charming, but rather generic romantic comedy, except that it happens to be set in Mussolini's Italy, and the characters are Jewish. Now, flash forward three years. The male and female leads are now married, have a son, and the Holocaust is about to start. Amazingly, it remains a comedy, only with a different premise: the father starts telling his three-year-old son wild stories to protect him from the truth of what is happening.
  • Little Miss Sunshine is essentially straight (and often rather bleak) drama for the first 20 minutes or so, only becoming a comedy about 20 minutes in when the actual road trip starts. The DVD Commentary confirms this was deliberate.
  • The Lost Boys begins as a bleak, played-straight vampire horror film and then takes on a humorous tone in the third act, with the teenage heroes spouting such lines as "Whoa, death by stereo!"
  • The Lost in Space film does this in relation to the original show. While the show was mostly a family-based sitcom disguised as sci-fi, the film is a straight sci-fi drama.
  • Masters of the Universe starts out like your normal sci-fi film, but as the focus shifts to Julie and Kevin, it almost feels like a Teen Drama, at least until Skeletor's forces make their appearance. The film then mostly shifts back to sci-fi afterwards.
  • Million Dollar Baby begins as a scrappy underdog sports movie and turns into a thoughtful but depressing drama about spinal cord injury and euthanasia.
  • The movie Miracle Mile starts out as an indie romantic comedy. It sure doesn't end that way.
  • Mulholland Dr. starts off as a convoluted but intriguing mystery/thriller centered around an amnesiac woman trying figure out who she is, then goes into lesbian romance, then goes into mind-boggling weirdness.
  • On Dangerous Ground begins its first half first like any regular Film Noir, but the mid-to-end is a bit more of a romance with a dash of noir.
  • Pitch Black is a Survival Horror film with a Dwindling Party and a Token Evil Teammate. The sequel The Chronicles of Riddick promotes the Token Evil Teammate to the main character and makes him the center of a Space Opera. The third movie, Riddick, is a return to the small-scale Survival Horror genre.
  • Plan B starts out with all the makings of a romantic comedy of errors about a man so desperate to win his girlfriend back that he's willing to pretend to be gay to mess with her new boyfriend's head, but gradually evolves into a genuine Queer Romance as the girlfriend becomes increasingly sidelined by the relationship between the two male leads.
  • Predator. The first hour is your standard Ahnold Eighties action flick, with an elite squad of all-American hardasses going into a Banana Republic to rescue some CIA spooks from Dirty Communists, with plenty of pithy one-liners and Stuff Blowing Up. The rest of the film is a genuinely suspenseful thriller/horror as this squad is gradually picked off by an invisible and superhuman alien hunter.
  • The 2007 film Sunshine starts out as a hard sci-fi film about a mission to reignite the dying sun. Then, at almost exactly the three-quarters mark, it suddenly becomes a horror film in space.
  • Every Scooby-Doo movie starts with Mystery Inc solving a mystery, and ends with Mystery Inc fighting an army of the undead/ cat monsters/ ancient samurai ghost / ancient witch ghost. The movie in question, Zombie Island, which could also count as a Deconstruction in a way, starts off with the Gang getting together to solve a few mysteries, matching the typical comedic feel of the original show but, in the middle, it becomes a supernatural horror mystery movie with very little comedy that gives you some very brief clues as to what's going on at Moon Scar island, in a way that worked. (This can partially be explained by the fact that Zombie Island was in fact a Dolled-Up Installment— the script began life as an episode of SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron, of all shows; when it was abruptly canned, the script was cannibalized for an episode of Jonny Quest: The Real Adventures, and eventually Zombie Island.)
  • Due to its episodic nature, and a rotating set of writers and directors, the Star Trek movies tend to shift dramatically from one genre to another with each film, often in response to previous movies' reception.
  • Hancock starts off as a lighthearted comedy about a Jerkass Super Hero and the ad executive who tries to reform him. Then halfway through the movie it turns into some weird mythological romantic tragedy something-or-other...
  • Devils On The Doorstep changes over the course of its running time from a black comedy to an even blacker drama by the end.
  • The entire Batman franchise tends to go through this (usually depending on the director, and not just the movies either.)
  • The third and final Infernal Affairs film made a Genre Shift from twisty but rational gangster film to all-out Mind Screw Psychological Horror, baffling many fans.
  • Them! starts out as a detective story, investigating a couple of mysterious disappearances in the American Southwest. Then the heroes are attacked by giant irradiated ants.
  • French movie He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not plays like a romantic lighthearted movie about an affair between a married man and a woman until the second half. Then, things get much darker.
  • The Break-Up starts as a semi-romantic comedy about a couple in the last parts of their marriage. About halfway through you realize it turned into an uncomfortably sad and bitter look at the central couple's role in the divorce, and the divisive effects it has on the couple's friends and acquaintances.
  • Kill Bill Volume 1 is a kung fu action thriller that's given an excuse plot and little consideration as to character or story development. Kill Bill Volume 2 is a character-driven, plot-heavy ode to the Western. Both Volumes were originally intended as one four-hour movie.
  • In a bizarre example of this trope happening in a trailer a Jack Black film initially appears to be a Judd Apatow style slacker in love romantic comedy set in New York, then suddenly shifts gear into science fiction territory with a trip into the Bermuda Triangle, then finally reveals itself to be a modern re-imagining of Gulliver's Travels. See it for yourself here.
  • The Prestige begins as a romantic tale of a professional rivalry between magicians, and ends very much as Science Fiction.
  • Cube 2: Hypercube to the original Cube. The first movie was at least somewhat grounded in reality, with the cube structure obviously futuristic, but still employing normal and believable machinery. The second replaces this with some sort of physically impossible mega-structure consisting of millions of rooms that freely employs Time Travel, intersecting parallel universes, and many more "hardcore sci-fi" contraptions. Cube Zero goes back to the conventions of the first, but partly changes the character point-of-view instead.
  • Lord of War starts out as a politically-minded dark comedy, but slowly turns into a straight (and very depressing) drama as it goes on. Which makes for a really cool metashift as the audience realizes the real cost of the glitz and glamour of gun-running along with Nick Cage's character.
  • The French "thriller" Cache starts off as a thriller, with a couple being video taped by a mysterious stranger. Halfway through the film, the video tapes become sorta irrelevant and the movie then becomes about racial tensions between the French and Algerians. In the end, we never find out who was making the tapes at all.
  • The Terminator series does this. The first flick is a Slasher Movie with a sci-fi bent. The second and third are more action/sci-fi movies that aren't quite as dark. The fourth one is a futuristic war movie. The fifth goes through both war and action, while ramping up on the sci-fi elements.
  • Western, Soldier Blue spends most of its time being a boy meets girl comedy. Until just before the end when it becomes a horrific, searing indictment on the US army's treatment of the Indian population, detailing an infamous massacre, including the dismemberment of children and rape of women, as the main characters look on in horror, unable to stop it.
  • The Sound of Music is a pre-WWII romance in Austria, about a governess teaching a widower and his children to love again, through the joy of music. Until two thirds of the way through, when the governess marries the widower and the remainder of the film is an adventure story about escaping from Nazis. Notably, this last portion of the movie contains none of the non-diegetic musical numbers that were scattered through the earlier part; the characters sing only diegetically, to distract the Nazis.
  • Titanic (1997) is an Edwardian Era romance drama until almost exactly halfway through, at which point the ship hits an iceberg and it becomes a full-on Disaster Movie with a romantic subplot.
  • The Salton Sea starts out as a comedy Stoner Flick. Then the main character reveals to us that he has been an Unreliable Narrator; something he hadn't told us before is about to change everything. In a meta sense, that means a shift to violent thriller.
  • X-Men Film Series
  • Kevin Feige has stated that this was the goal of the Phase 2 Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, as Marvel wanted to diversify the content of their films:
  • The World's End starts out as a comedy about a charming, charismatic Manchild and his more grown-up friends trying to finish a pub crawl that they didn't manage 20+ years ago. The pub crawl is promptly ruined by the protagonist's immaturity, a variety of unsettled business between the friends, and an Alien Invasion.
  • Heartbreakers starts off as a film about a ruthless mother-daughter pair of con artists. The last third turns into a Romantic Comedy.
  • The Guest by Adam Wingard starts off as a mystery thriller while the last twenty minutes are more of an action film with the ending mocking slasher endings.
  • The two Tim Story Fantastic Four (2005) movies were rather straightforward, upbeat superhero stories (as was was the ill-fated 90's version) while the reboot by Josh Trank is Darker and Edgier and much more sci-fi oriented. Trank has said he wants to get back to the characters' roots as science heroes and explorers of the unknown.
  • The 2014 version of Left Behind got one in the process of adaptation. While the book and the 2000 Kirk Cameron movie were more like political thrillers, this version mostly covers Rayford's attempts to land his plane in the aftermath of the Rapture and, as some critics remarked, becomes more reminiscent of 1970s airplane disaster movies like Airport.
  • Rat Fink A Boo Boo Starts out as a dark and sombre horror flick about a girl being stalked by a threatening telephone pranker; then it takes a sudden left turn and becomes a comedy about an incompetent pair of Batman-and-Robin wannabees; literally it becomes a parody of a parody!
  • V For Vendetta is a comic about an anarchist vigilante that engages in terrorism with a plot that gravitates between a political thriller, Noir, and a mystery; V for Vendetta the movie, misconstrues him into a fighter of justice and freedom, when the character in the comic explicitly denounces "lady justice" in favor of anarchy, and the movie itself is an action film slapped with thinly-veiled political jabs at the then current governments of the UK and the USA.
  • Wild Things starts out as a formulaic Clear My Name plot, complete with Bill Murray as a sleazy lawyer trying The Perry Mason Method... until the one hour mark. That's when it's revealed that the defendant was working with his accusers for a damages settlement, but they all have their own plans, which quickly create a Jigsaw Puzzle Plot.

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