A lot of horror movies don’t have a nice ending, but writer/director Stewart Thorndike’s ranges from the clear to the confusing Bad things definitely ends up at the end that causes more headaches.
So what is the hotel horror really about and what does this psychologically twisted ending mean? We’ve done our best to break it down below.
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what is Bad things around?
At least the premise is simple enough. Bad things sees four friends – Ruthie (Gayle Rankin), her partner Cal (Hari Nef), Maddie (Rad Pereira) and Fran (Annabelle Dexter-Jones) – travel to spend the weekend at Ruthie’s newly inherited hotel. Dubbed the Comley Hotel, the hotel is no longer operational and Ruthie is torn between selling it (which her mysteriously absent mother, played by screen icon Molly Ringwald, apparently wants her to do) and keeping it as a business opportunity (something what Cal wants). them to do). To make matters worse, Ruthie has her own grim childhood memories of the place, and it’s said to be haunted by the ghosts of people who have died there over the years.
Tensions within the group mount as the weekend progresses. Ruthie is clearly not herself, Fran’s presence doesn’t seem welcomed by anyone but Maddie, and cracks begin to show in Ruthie and Cal’s relationship. Soon the characters have visions reminiscent of Stephen King’s The glow amidst the halls of
Overlook Comley, and the threat of violence is in the air.
What happens at the end? Bad things?
As you probably guessed, this threat is becoming a reality. But the big question is: how much of it is it? Strictly speaking real and how much is in the minds of the characters?
To put it in the order we watch it, things get spooky when part-time hotel worker Brian (Jared Abrahamson) is pursued through the hotel and murdered by a chainsaw-wielding assailant wearing a hoodie and Ruthie’s sleep mask. Later, the same attacker traps Maddie’s arm in a door, injuring him. Ruthie is held accountable by her friends but maintains her innocence.
Fran is the next to die. While attempting to take Ruthie out of the hotel, Cal hits her on the head and then pushes her through a window. Fran survives the fall but trips backwards and falls into the frozen pool.
Eventually, Maddie ventures into Suite 324 and discovers Ruthie’s mother, who appears to have been killed by a fire extinguisher. Realizing the horrifying truth, Maddie and Cal attempt to escape the hotel, but Ruthie pursues them both through the snow with the aforementioned chainsaw, seemingly hacking them to pieces.
You could see on the surface Bad things as a story about a woman who loses her mind and goes on a homicidal Jack Torrance-style rampage. But is everything as it seems?
Ruthie has visions of a version of her mother, played by Molly Ringwald.
What really happened to Ruthie’s mother?
The key to the story and Ruthie’s state of mind seems to lie in the mysterious figure of Ruthie’s mother, Mrs. Auerbach. Writer/director Thorndike clarifies and describes the importance of this relationship in a statement emailed to Mashable Bad things as “an unrequited ghost love story between a mother and a daughter”.
“I wanted to erase the societal norms of what a mother and daughter are — not subtle, loving, passive, healers — but epic and frightening and active,” she says. “It’s a tribute to that first primal relationship and how fuzzy and complex it can be. Especially an unrequited one.”
In fact, from the very beginning of the film, Ruthie’s mother’s absence is almost a presence in itself. Ruthie appears to exchange sporadic text messages with her mother. When Brad is looking for Ms. Auerbach at the Comley Hotel at the beginning of the film, he notices her car outside and says he wants to check her room. But Ruthie insists her mother isn’t there. “Your car doesn’t work,” she explains.
It’s also clear that the relationship between Ruthie and her mother is strained at best and abusive at worst. Early on we hear a story about how Ms. Auerbach accidentally left her daughter at the hotel when she was a little girl, leaving young Ruthie alone for days, undergoing treatment for frostbite. Cal also hints that Ruthie’s mother is pressuring her to sell the hotel.
But it’s only at the very end of the film that we realize exactly where Ms. Auerbach is: she’s been lying dead in her hotel suite the whole time. The implication is that Ruthie killed her out of malice and revenge. It turns out that Ruthie has her mother’s phone and is probably texting herself all the time.
How much blood is Ruthie really shedding?
Did Ruthie really go on a killing spree?
While it’s likely that Ruthie did in fact kill her mother, the other murders in the film are far less clear cut. For example, in the final sequence, when Ruthie is slaughtering Cal and Maddie with a chainsaw, there’s a shot where you can see people walking past calmly in the background, like everything’s okay. Is it possible that the whole sequence is happening in Ruthie’s head and she’s totally disconnected from reality at that point? And if so, what else happens at the hotel only happens in Ruthie’s head?
Thorndike is so good at merging delusion with reality that it’s hard to say for sure. I would argue that Ruthie’s murder of her mother actually happened as that seems to be the trigger for everything else that follows. I also think it’s likely Ruthie murdered Brad since three different characters see his body. And considering he was in a relationship with Ms. Auerbach and began to suspect a crime, the motive seems to be there.
But as for the other deaths? I’m not sure. First off, if I had to guess, I would say that Fran is never coming back to the hotel. Halfway through the film, she is abandoned at the train station and I think her return, considering how sudden it is, is one of Ruthie’s delusions. Finally, I don’t think Ruthie actually kills her two remaining friends at the end of the film. I think that’s on her mind too – one last murder fantasy about burning everything down. The passers-by who wander around unsuspectingly are the proof.
Bad things is now streaming on Shudder.