The ‘Don’t Worry Darling’ Twist Ending Explained

Warning: This submit accommodates spoilers for Don’t Fear Darling

Early in Don’t Fear Darling our hero Alice (Florence Pugh) begins to suspect that one thing is amiss. Alice and her good-looking husband Jack (Harry Types) dwell in a Nineteen Fifties-era Palm Springs-esque desert suburb dotted with tidy midcentury fashionable houses. Alice and Jack are the picture-perfect protagonists of Olivia Wilde’s controversial and highly-anticipated follow-up to Booksmart, her directorial debut. They’re younger and deeply in love, one in all quite a few {couples} who dwell an enviable life in a city the place nothing unhealthy ever appears to occur.

A cultish determine named Frank (Chris Pine) holds sway over the corporate city, which he has named Victory. Frank has sworn all his underlings to secrecy about their work lives, which suggests they will’t inform their spouses or households. Daily the husbands drive off to a bunker within the desert the place they work on a super-secret venture whereas their companions keep house to scrub, prepare dinner, store, gossip, and drink cocktails by the pool.

The viewers might discover it odd that each one these completely coiffed wives emerge from their homes onto their shared cul-de-sac at the very same time each morning to ship their husbands off to work. However Alice doesn’t catch on to any sort of larger thriller till she cracks a carton’s price of eggs to search out them lacking their yolks. Then, she hears rumors a few youngster that’s gone lacking.

She wanders into the desert, sees the bunker the place the boys work, and begins to analyze her too-perfect world. Over the course of the movie, Alice argues with a collection of males who dismiss her issues as suits of womanly hysteria, however she presses on.

You could be right here since you’re curious concerning the drama surrounding the film, which has at instances overshadowed the movie itself. Perhaps you’ve seen that the advertising surrounding the film hints at an enormous twist. Or perhaps you noticed noticed the movie and wish to dig in deeper into what all of it means.

Right here’s every part it’s essential to know concerning the ending of Don’t Fear Darling.

What occurs within the film?

Alice suspects one thing bizarre is happening together with her husband Jack and their Stepford Wives-like lives in a creepily sunny suburb. The wives are forbidden from going into the desert that surrounds the city or asking their companions about their jobs. They sometimes whisper about what it’s their husbands are literally doing all day and theorize concerning the unusual sonic booms that disturb their leisurely afternoons. The truth that the city is dubbed “Victory” means that the boys are engaged on a Manhattan Undertaking-adjacent nuclear weapon or one thing related.

Issues go sideways when one in all Alice’s associates, Margaret (KiKi Layne), wanders into the desert after her youngster and claims she noticed one thing horrible there. The corporate tells the city that the son died within the desert, additional reinforcing the purpose that wandering off is harmful. However Margaret says the corporate took away her son as punishment for uncovering no matter thriller she discovered. Margaret then slices her throat open in entrance of Alice, seemingly killing herself, although a health care provider tells Alice that Margaret recovered. We by no means see Margaret once more.

Round this time, Alice sees a airplane crash within the desert and wanders into forbidden territory to search out it. As an alternative, she finds the bunker the place all the boys work. She approaches the constructing and, when she touches it, sees a bunch of trippy photographs, together with a collection of black-and-white photographs of Busby Berkeley-style dancers. (These ladies are performing for males, if that imagery wasn’t apparent sufficient.)

She reawakens in mattress and spends the remainder of the film making an attempt to unravel the thriller. In a collection of more and more determined episodes, she confronts her husband, her neighbor and confidante Bunny (Wilde), and Frank. After a crackling banquet showdown, Frank all however admits to Alice that he’s manipulating the folks of Victory. However he leaves the get together earlier than Alice can end her line of questioning, leaving her with spineless Jack. Jack pretends he’s going to run away with Alice however as a substitute units her as much as be kidnapped by a gaggle of males and bemoans his personal unhealthy fortune as she’s dragged away. The mysterious goons attempt to reprogram her via electroshock remedy.

What’s the twist?

It’s all a simulation!

The electroshock remedy doesn’t go as deliberate. Whereas mendacity on the desk, Alice accesses reminiscences of her actual life.

It seems that she is, in actuality, a health care provider, not a housewife. She lives in a dreary condominium and works horrible hours. Jack is her accomplice in that universe too. He doesn’t notably like how a lot Alice works or that she’s the breadwinner of their relationship. The film makes an attempt to up Jack’s creep-factor in these scenes by giving Harry Types very un-Harry Types like hair and garments.

Listening to a creepy podcast with males’s rights activist vibes, he hears about particular VR know-how invented by Frank that permits a person and the girl of his selecting to be plugged right into a ’50s-style universe. The girl, it ought to be famous, doesn’t consent to this venture. Neither is she even essentially the person’s accomplice—she could be just a few random lady that the person presumably…kidnaps? Yikes. Jack indicators himself and Alice up, with out Alice’s consent.

When Alice returns “house”—nicely, to her Nineteen Fifties simulation house—she flinches as she kisses Jack, and extra real-world recollections flood in. She finally confronts Jack, and he explains that he made this selection as a result of she was depressing within the outdoors world working horrible hours. Now she simply will get to calm down by the pool. He needs that he by no means needed to go away the simulation himself, however he does so he can go to a job within the outdoors world day by day and fund his creepy daydream.

Alice screams that she selected her so-called depressing life, that she favored her so-called depressing life. That’s the difficult factor concerning the patriarchy: It typically disguises itself as home bliss.

She then accidentally-on-purpose kills Jack. Bunny exhibits as much as reveal that she is aware of they’re residing in a simulation. Bunny is there voluntarily as a result of she misplaced her youngsters in actual life and she or he will get to see her pretend youngsters there. (An odd revelation contemplating that each one the messiness and pleasure of youngsters appears to be sapped from Bunny’s offspring. They’re mere automatons.) She additionally mentions that, by the way in which, should you kill a person in digital actuality he dies on the surface. (Why? Don’t give it some thought an excessive amount of). Alice doesn’t appear all that unhappy about murdering her controlling loser of a husband, and I don’t blame her.

Bunny, a font of essential info, tells Alice to run to the bunker within the desert. It’s the one technique of escaping the simulation. Once more, why? Maybe as a result of Wilde wished to movie a cool chase scene with old-school automobiles. Alice simply barely makes it. The tip.

Okay, so what was with that airplane?

Alice watching a airplane crash kicks off the whole journey. Was it a glitch within the VR expertise? It’s onerous to think about that Frank would purposefully program that into the simulation.

What about that second when Alice nearly will get crushed to loss of life whereas cleansing?

Alice has a number of trippy experiences, just like the wall of her home almost crushing her to loss of life and the dance class hallucination. Is {that a} glitch or Frank messing together with her head as some form of punishment? It’s by no means made clear.

Can ladies die within the simulation?


Apparently not. Bunny particularly says that if males die in digital actuality they die in actual life. Why would ladies be the exception? Unclear.

Margaret slashes her throat early within the movie and disappears. She both died by suicide in actual life or discovered that killing herself was the one method to escape the simulation.

How does Alice eat or go to the toilet whereas utilizing the simulator?

Even when Alice’s security isn’t threatened contained in the simulation, how is she surviving outdoors of it?

We see Alice hooked as much as the simulator machine in a mattress. Didn’t any of her coworkers or household ask about her going lacking? Or any of the ladies? As soon as she’s connected to the machine within the mattress, how does she eat? And the way does she go to the toilet? Does Jack must maintain that? That would appear to zap a whole lot of the “romance” (and the citation marks are doing a whole lot of work there) from Jack’s fantasy with Alice in dream home land.

Why did Frank’s spouse stab Frank?

The standing of Frank’s spouse Shelley (Gemma Chan) all through the film is a thriller. Does she know that she’s residing in a simulation like Bunny? Or did Frank trick her? Presumably the latter: He discovered easy methods to seize his spouse in his Nineteen Fifties suburbia fantasy after which podcasted about it to different insecure males internationally.

On the finish of the film, when Alice is making her escape, Frank is speaking on the cellphone along with his in-virtual actuality safety about easy methods to cease Alice. Shelley casually walks over and slips a knife into Frank. Why does she do that now? Did she simply work out what Frank was as much as? How did she determine it out, since Frank stays opaque on his cellphone name? Did different clues like Margaret slitting her personal throat or Alice confronting Frank at a cocktail party not tip her off?

She additionally makes a remark about the way it’s now “her flip.” Her flip to run the simulation? Is she going to assist ladies entrap males there? Change the simulation? Escape? We’ll by no means know as a result of we by no means see her once more.

Why did Harry Types dance at that firm get together?

There’s a scene in the course of the film when Frank promotes Jack, after which Jack does a extremely lengthy, elaborate dance onstage at a celebration whereas Alice has a breakdown within the toilet. I’ve completely no rationalization for why this scene exists within the film. Perhaps there’s a Dance Dance Revolution mini-game inside this digital actuality universe.

Jack’s dance does encourage the boys of Victory to begin chanting about how they’re creating the long run in a fashion that’s paying homage to Nazi rallies.

What are the influences on Don’t Fear Darling?

The obvious touchstone for Don’t Fear Darling is The Stepford Wives. For the uninitiated, Stepford Wives is a horror novel-turned-movie (launched in 1975, adopted by a 2004 adaptation with Nicole Kidman) that satirizes males’s reactions to ladies’s liberation. It facilities on a photographer named Joanna who strikes together with her husband to an eerily excellent city. All of the housewives are vapid, unusually dedicated to housekeeping, and subservient to their husbands.

Joanna investigates her suspicions that one thing is amiss within the city whereas her husband spends an growing period of time on the males’s membership. Joanna finds out that the ladies within the city used to have thriving careers however grew to become docile housewives with notably bigger breasts and no remaining curiosity of their earlier jobs. She finally discovers the boys are remodeling the ladies into, basically, intercourse robots. She is betrayed by her personal husband and changed into one herself.

There’s a second within the Stepford Wives e-book by which Joanna briefly returns to town. She observes the working ladies on the streets and describes them “rushed, sloppy, irritated—and alive.” That line fantastically illustrates the distinction between Alice’s actual life as a health care provider (alive) and her imagined one as a housewife (in a trance).

Wilde has additionally cited Betty Friedan’s earth-shattering e-book, The Female Mystique, which chronicled the dissatisfaction of the American housewife and helped launch second-wave feminism within the U.S., as an affect.

The visuals borrow closely from Nineteen Sixties movies just like the Sean Connery James Bond movies, but additionally (extra lately) from Mad Males. The stifling midcentury marriage between Alice and Jack recollects that of Revolutionary Street. Alice’s realization that she is being gaslit and her escape echoes the finale of Get Out. Alice’s title could also be a nod to the Alice who falls down the rabbit gap right into a topsy-turvy world in Alice in Wonderland. The simulation plot recollects movies like The Truman Present and Pleasantville.

What does Don’t Fear Darling must do with The Matrix?

The Matrix is a touchstone, not solely as a result of the whole plot of that film facilities on the hero deciding to unplug from a beautiful-looking however unreal simulation in favor of a grittier life in actuality, but additionally due to The Matrix’s inadvertent affect on the language of males’s rights activists.

In The Matrix, the hero Neo should select between a blue capsule to proceed his delusion or a crimson capsule to get up to actuality. In sure corners of the Web, dissatisfied males use the time period “crimson capsule” to seek advice from the second they “realized” that girls allegedly run the world. Crimson Tablet boards on the Web have turn out to be a spot the place principally white, principally straight males air misogynistic views on ladies and bemoan their diminishing standing in society. (The creators of The Matrix, Lana and Lilly Wachowski, each trans ladies, have since defined that The Matrix is definitely an allegory for popping out as trans, to the consternation of many males’s rights activists.)

Wilde has particularly cited these darkish corners of the Web as inspiration for the villains of the movie. One can simply think about Jack figuring out himself as somebody who was “crimson pilled” when he felt emasculated by his spouse’s incomes potential and sought refuge amongst a group of males craving for a time when males managed ladies’s our bodies and conduct. Satirically, in Wilde’s film, these red-pilled males purposefully delude themselves with a view to achieve again energy as a substitute of residing in actuality.

What do incels, males’s rights activists, and Jordan Peterson must do with the plot?

Quite a bit! The principle antagonists of Don’t Fear Darling are insecure males who wish to management ladies, their careers, and their our bodies. Jack doesn’t really feel like he’s taking good care of Alice—so he takes her as his prisoner. After listening to Frank lecture about males shedding energy in society and needing to show their manliness on a podcast, Jack skulks via the rain in the course of the night time to search out Frank in actual life and signal himself and Alice up for this Victory Undertaking with out Alice’s consent.

We don’t know the motivations for the opposite males sticking their companions or different random ladies contained in the simulation, however we will guess that they’re all controlling and creepy, and their sexual relationships reek of an absence of consent. A lot of these males might be acquainted to any lady who spends time on the Web. And there are particular figures who domesticate followings of disaffected males who, after millennia of having fun with benefits on this planet, blame the development of girls for any present ills.

Wilde informed fellow director Maggie Gyllenhaal in Interview Journal that she based mostly Chris Pine’s character particularly on one such incendiary thinker: Jordan Peterson. Peterson has gained an Web following amongst sad males who blame developments in gender relations for his or her distress. He has made a profession of inflammatory statements about trans rights, gender pronouns, and gender fairness.

“We based mostly that character on this insane man, Jordan Peterson, who is that this pseudo-intellectual hero to the incel group,” Wilde stated. Gyllenhaal stated she didn’t know the time period “incel.” (Bless Gyllenhaal for not being on Twitter on a regular basis.) Wilde defined that it refers to “involuntarily celibate” males, “mainly disenfranchised, principally white males, who imagine they’re entitled to intercourse from ladies.”

Wilde added: “They imagine that society has now robbed them — that the thought of feminism is working in opposition to nature, and that we have to be put again into the proper place.”

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Write to Eliana Dockterman at eliana.dockterman@time.com.