I admit it – every time Netflix breaks the ice with a new film coming from Spain, I have serious doubts about pushing the Play button. I am not really sure why. Maybe it is the lack of balance between art and entertainment, or maybe it is the thick accent (Colombian Spanish is my native language), or maybe it is that I just prefer new films coming from the anglosphere. I do not know. Maybe it is a mix of everything. But The Warning (Original Name: El Aviso) – the most recent spanish Netflix fim – has just proved me wrong. Totally wrong.
This film is so well-made and exciting that definitely I will have zero doubts next time I find another spanish release on Netflix. This good impression is a consequence of the thriller nature of the movie, that combines suspense, superstition, mathematics, parallel timelines, and of course, some drama as well. So many elements, that you may find yourself wondering what just happened in the movie when the credits roll. But do not worry, we will try to answer every single question you may have about The Warning. Just keep reading!
1 ^ Who are the main characters in The Warning? How many timelines are we seeing in the movie?
The film has two main characters: Jon (Raúl Arévalo), a brilliant mathematician with serious mental issues; and Nico (Hugo Arbues), a 9-year-old boy who suffers from bullying by 3 of his older classmates.
Jon’s story takes place at the beginning of April 2008, and the story of Nico, takes place 10 years later, at the beginning of April 2018. Both timelines are parallel and they come together (kind of) by the end of the film.
2 ^ What kind of mental illness does Jon have? Did Jon imagine everything? Even the butterflies?
We know with certainty what kind of mental illness Jon suffers just by reading the name of the medication he takes, Risperidone. Risperidone, also known commercially as Risperdal, is an antipsychotic used in the treatment of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and irritability in patients with autism. Near the end of the film, Jon himself confirms that the condition he suffers is schizophrenia.
Is Jon a reliable narrator? Did he imagine everything? What we see in the film are the consequences of his illness? We can not answer these questions without checking the scenes of worms and butterflies along the film.
In several scenes Jon sees worms on his desk, and then butterflies flying uncontrollably all over his place. We could say that these visions are not real, making Jon an unreliable narrator, but when we go to the last scene, where Jon sees Nico in the mirror of the 24 Hours Store, we can infer that the condition diagnosed in Jon as Schizophrenia, is actually an ability to connect with other kinds of realities, perhaps because of its relationship with Nico. Realities that do exist outside the standard understanding of things.
3 ^ What did Jon discover about the 24-hour Store where his friend was shot?
After seeing how his friend David receives lethal shots in his head, Jon reads a newspaper describing a similar event that happened in April, but in 1976, in the exact same location. After looking for several clues, questioning witnesses and collecting evidence, Jon discovers that:
3.1 ^ Up to 2008, there were 4 firearm attacks in the place where the 24-hour Store is located. The first in 1913, the second in 1955, the third in 1976, and the fourth in 2008, the same one that Jon witnessed.
3.2 ^ In all the attacks there were 5 people involved: a 53 years-old person, a 42, a 32, a 21, and a 10 years-old kid.
3.3 ^ In 1913, the site was a seat of an Agricultural Bank, in 1955 it was a small restaurant, in 1976 a gas station with an office and in 2008 it was the gas station with a 24-Hour Store where Jon’s friend was shot.
4 ^ What happened in 1913?
When Jon meets Asunción in the retirement house (Julieta Serrano, in an IMMACULATE performance), she tells him that she is the daughter of one of those involved in the first armed attack on the location of the gas station, at that time a Banco Agrícola, in 1913.
Asunción’s father was a Spanish soldier, stationed in Africa. Although Asunción claims that his father was in «the war». Most likely, it was part of the process of colonization of Equatorial Guinea, since the other territories where there was Spanish occupation, near Morocco, do not generate vectors of tropical diseases, as specified by Asunción.
Although it is also possible she was referring to the War of the Rif, in Morocco, where there was a war between Spain and the northern tribes of the Rif. This war occurred between 1911 and 1927, so it does not coincide with the story of Asunción that his father returned «after the war.» What do you think?
Finally, when the father of Asunción returned from Africa, involuntarily infected his daughter with an African virus, he tried to apply for a loan to the Agricultural Bank to pay for the treatment, but having no incomes or properties, the Bank denied the loan. The soldier decided then that he would rob the bank to obtain the money.
Once the solder was there to take the money, on April 12, 1913, the bank manager took out a weapon to defend himself against the robbery and the soldier went mad. The manager of the bank (32), a cashier (21), a client (42) and his daughter (10) died. Then the soldier ( 53 ) committed suicide.
5 ^ What happened in 1955?
The place where the bank used to be, was now a small restaurant. Mercedes, the owner of the restaurant ( 42 ), a family mother, maintained a clandestine relationship with another man – when she decided to end the illicit relationship, the lover (53) just went crazy and attacked the restaurant with a rifle. The 21-years-old nephew of the owner working on the restaurant, a customer who was just drinking wine(32) and the the owner’s son (10) were present. But Mr. Lover only killed Mercedes, and then run away.
6 ^ What happened in 1976?
At the exact same location where the bank and the restaurant were located before, there was a gas station in 1976. A Spanish General (53), along with his bodyguard (21), stopped by to put fuel. While the bodyguard was loading fuel, the general stayed in the backseat reading the newspaper, and a 10-year-old boy was cleaning the vehicle. At that time two men on a motorcycle (42 and 32) arrived at the site and began firing at the vehicle, the bodyguard interposed between the boy and the bullets dying instantly.
The relatives of the bodyguard made the kid promise that he would value his life, and as a result of that, the boy named Lisandro became a great entrepreneur with several social undertakings, such as free meals and summer camps for low-income children.
7 ^ What happened on April 2, 2008?
Jon was on his way to meet Andrea that night, and she asked him on the phone to get some ice from the store and take it to her place. However, on the way, Jon picked up his best friend and Andrea’s boyfriend, David. Jon and David arrived to the gas station, but only David got out the car and got into the store.
The owner (53), David (32), a 10-year-old boy, the Russian who was shot (42) and the shooter (21) were present in the store. David received several bullet wounds in his head and was in critical condition. From that moment on, Jon decided to investigate.
Something that perhaps Jon overlooked and that should have given him a clue of what really happened, is that in reality in the store and the gas station there were not 5 people, there were 6, including himself. Therefore, it was NOT the marked event to happen.
8 ^ Why was there another shooting on April 12, 2008?
In the calculations that Jon had made, the only data that did not fit was the date of the last attack. All the events had occurred on April 12, but the attack on David occurred on April 2. When the doctors evicted David and recommended euthanasia, Jon concluded that April 12 is significant because it is the date on which the subject dies and he also concluded that the subject that should die was David.
However, when David was disconnected, he remained alive. Then, Jon, who turned 32 that same day, realized that everything had been a chain of events that took him to the 24 Hours Store on April 12. There was the owner of the store (53), a 10-year-old boy, a 21-year-old man, himself, who was 32 and finally the policeman who was 42 years old.
Jon made a huge mistake here. He thought that the 21-year-old was the shooter. And he did not realize there were only 4 people in the store, not 5.
9 ^ What happened on April 12, 2018?
Nico had received the notice that Jon had left to the owner of the Store. And he really wanted to do as the warning said, avoiding the 24-hours Store at all cost, but his mother thought there was absolutely nothing to worry about and that it was just an act of bullying towards Nico. She decided her son should not be traumatized by other kids and she forced him to go.
The owner was not in the store, obviously he knew that something very bad was going to happen. There was Nico (10), the replacement of the owner (21), the robber (53), the Nico’s mother, Lucia (42) and the motorcyclist (32). The replacement boy reacted against the robber and Nico, listening to Jon, through the mirror, ran away, avoiding death from the bullets of the confrontation.
10 ^ Is there a curse on the gas station? Is it a mathematical event? Did Jon reincarnate in Nico?
According to what Jon inferred from the events, the matter is that the father of Asunción, the soldier who fought in the Spanish wars in Africa, by killing four people in cold blood and then committing suicide, generated a chain of events where he had to live in his own flesh what each one of his victims suffered. Therefore, more than a curse, it is a debt to be paid to life, destiny or a Higher Power. You choose.
So, having died on April 12, 1913, at 53 , he reincarnated in Mercedes, the woman who 42 years later, on April 12, 1955, died at the hands of her lover; then reincarnated in the bodyguard of the general, who died in the same place, on April 12, 1976, at age 21 . Then he reincarnated in Jon, who on April 12, 2008, at 32 , died in the same place. The last part of the debt had to be paid with Nico, Jon’s reincarnation, dying at age 10, on April 12, 2018. But this was not fulfilled. Does it mean the curse ended?
11 ^ How Jon and Nico could see and hear each other through the mirror?
Obviously because of the connection between them. Jon clearly told the owner that in 10 years, a kid about that age, with a strong resemblance to him, was going to show up in the store and he had to do everything he could to get the kid out of there. Jon and Nico share the same scene, spirit, soul, just in two different times. That is why the owner could easily identify Nico as the boy Jon promised.
This special connection allowed them, under Jon’s mental condition and Nico’s stress level, to see and hear each other, which eventually made it possible for Nico to escape from the shooting alive.
12 ^ Did the curse end for Nico?
Although the film evidently has a happy ending, perfect to keep the audience happy, and generate the word-of-mouth Netflix is always looking for, the truth is that it has become clear that any force (Jesus, Allah, Buddha … I love you all) that is adjusting accounts with the soul, the spirit, or the essence of Nico, will not be so quiet.
We saw how this force, in the style of Final Destination, laid out a perfect plan for Jon to be present on his birthday in the store, and die. Now, there is this possibility, the curse must cease at the moment when the reincarnation of the Spanish soldier UNDERSTAND what has been happening, and he REPENTS sincerely of what he did, with an act of sacrifice and altruism. That is exactly what Jon did when he did not throw the gun away to warn Nico through the mirror.
In this way, perhaps, the soul of Jon (and Nico) has gone through the required redemption and there will be no more bloody consequences.
Another argument in favor of the end of the sequence, is that the person who shoots, the murderer, has the same age as the person who died in the previous event, means that if Nico died, the next event would have to be provoked by a 10-year-old kid. Was the force that handled these events willing to see a 10-year-old boy die and see another one become a murderer? I don’t think so.
13 ^ What does the end of The Warning / The Warning mean?
At the end of the film we see how Jon tells Nico, through the mirror, to run. Jon does it despite knowing that if he does not throw the weapon away, he will die at the hands of the policeman. However, Jon’s death was inevitable and inescapable, since Nico is his reincarnation and must be born exactly that same day. And Jon had already seen him in the mirror. He must die, repent for the mistakes he had made in other lives and save Nico’s life. His future life.
And perhaps the most important part of this ending is when Nico runs into the arms of his mother, who finally realized that it had been a terrible idea to take Nico to the 24-Hours Story, despite the warning, but Nico replies that he was not afraid. This can be read in two ways, the first one is that Nico has finally overcome his fears, the same that kept him as a subject of torture of the 3 thugs of his school. And the second one is that the adjustment of destiny accounts with him has ceased, and therefore he should no longer be afraid.
A common trait of all the people who died on that site was an instinct related to death, being connected with dangerous people, being in dangerous careers, or with serious mental disorders. Nico was on the same path, however in the end, the fear, the emotion that connected him with death, finally disappears.
14 ^ What is the message behind The Warning?
The message of this film is related to RENAISSANCE and REDEMPTION. Just as it is wrong to commit a transgression and go ahead as if nothing had happened, the other extreme is also dangerous, commit a transgression and remain locked by guilt, hatred or resentment.
Very well said the character of Luis Callejo, in the conversation at the car factory, you can pay a debt to life with acts of kindness. Just as that character was responsible for providing food and entertainment to children who otherwise could not access these services of good quality, Jon did the same to favor Nico, he preferred to die to be able to warn him with time, so he could survive the shooting .
Likewise, perhaps when you have a debt to life, or to society, perhaps the healthiest way to pay for it is through good deeds, acts of selfless generosity, acts where life and dignity are valued. Not as it happens in many cases, especially in «Transitional Justices» where it is required from the people to forgive crimes and transgressions, but the criminals and transgressors are left enjoying the honeys of forgiveness, without doing ONE act of generosity or kindness that amends – at least partially- the damage they have done. Take that into account.
Questions? Annotations? Doubts? Insults? The comments section is open just below this post. See you in another post of Ending Explained, here on El Sabanero X.