Trust me, if the final scene on Netflix Original Wounds, literally almost blow your mind, you are not alone in this. Matter of fact, in order to understand what was going on in the movie, we had to check over four different sources – 1) The novella this movie is based on, The Visible Filth by Nathan Ballingrud, 2) Interviews given by Babak Anvari, director of this film, 3) Information available on gnostic occultism, and 4) Some bits of clinical psychoanalysis.
So, if after watching this movie, you ended up with some confusion, doubts or questions, you are in the right place because now, and without further ado, we will analyze and explain what was really going on… Wounds.
1 | What happens in the movie, is it real or is it just a fantasy?
The first and certainly the most important question, is what we see on screen real or is it just a product of Will’s (Armie Hammer) imagination? Although the film is spectacularly open to interpretation, after reviewing all the material available, I have come to the conclusion that the film is made of pieces of reality – which are many – and other pieces of fantasy that happen only within Will’s mind, and now I’ll explain why.
2 | What is real and what is not real in the movie?
First thing to notice along this movie – Will’s life is literally going to hell for some terrifying demonic entity, and yet he has time to worry about his failing relationship with his girlfriend, and to fret about his hot friend, whom he has a crush on, dating some college nerd? Really? That’s a very weird way to organize his priorities.
What is for sure is that Will’s real life interactions with Carrie (Dakota Johnson), Alicia (Zazie Beetz), Rosie and Eric are those related with real life issues. Will’s conversations with these four characters are structural in Will’s reality. Everything related to cockroaches, portals and mystical creatures that come out of rotten wounds is part of a fantasy, but the explanation is way much more interesting.
3 | What is wrong with Will
A fundamental aspect of the story that director Babak Anvari points out, and which is perfectly reflected in the novella, is Will’s character. Will is apparently a charismatic and cheerful man, handsome and charming, of course … but below that is a man who did not finish his studies; that settles to a bartender’s salary; who is satisfied with a relationship with a woman who he does not love, because he does not have the guts to fight for the woman he really likes; a man who when a fight goes wrong in his bar, does nothing to prevent a tragedy, but expects others to act; a man who aims to live an easy life, stuffed by drugs and alcohol…. In short, Will is an hollow man.
There is an additional point that may be overlooked and it is the camaraderie between Will, Eric, and police officers Duane and Patrick. It is a kind of camaraderie and support whose only explanation would be that the four, at least, shared some kind of significant experience, and given Eric’s background, it can be assumed that the four of them were listed in Afghanistan.
Perhaps Will’s behavior, detached, casual and faint-hearted, is a kind of response to the emotional trauma that caused him to have served as a soldier in the war on terrorism in that country.
4 | What about The Translations of Wounds?
Let’s read the paragraph that introduce us to the movie:
… It had whispered to him things about himself, which he did not know, things of which he had no conception… and the whisper proved irresistibly fascinating, it echoed loudly with him because he was hollow at the core – Joseph Conrad, Head of Darkness .
This paragraph is very revealing. Something happened to Will who revealed things about himself, and perhaps it wasn’t something supernatural as it seems. The decisive moment that breaks the movie in two is the episode with the cellphone. Here you can speculate that, in effect, Will retrieved the phone, managed to unlock it, and in fact they sent him those disturbing messages and saw those weird photos and video.
And most likely, this was really – as he said – just a student project for some cinematic issue, and the messages were a joke. But the photos of the slaughtered man, the blood and the zombie head woke up something in Will, some kind of emotional crap that he still had in his head after the war, a repressed desire and that was the desire to kill.
5 | What happened to Carrie?
As we pointe, the scenes between Carrie and Will did happen, and it is assumed that she was no longer interested in him and that they broke. There Will succumbed to his darkest instincts and killed her. There is evidence in the film that this could have happened, specifically two flashbacks, one with Carrie’s head cut off and the other in the room completely splashed with blood.
Will murdered Carrie, with morbid violence, dismembering her. But obviously his consciousness does not allow him to remember. But consciousness will soon no longer be a problem.
6 | What happened to Alicia? Why was she with someone like Jeffrey?
Just like it happened with Carrie, all the key moments Will experienced with Alicia indeed happen – that is, Will and Alicia did have some kind of sexual tension; Alicia did have a boyfriend, Jeffrey and unlike Will, Jeffrey is determined and diligent – a doer – which is precisely the difference between them and the reason why Alicia chose him.
Actually, the key episode, in which Alicia and Will get drunk and eventually end up near the river, kissing, and in which she ends up rejecting him is also completely real, and like the break up with Carrie, is one of the reasons why Will’s mental structure just collapses. Two women, whom he had taken for granted, because he is handsome, strong, and charming, decided to move away from him. Life is no longer that easy, buddy.
Unfortunately for Alicia, Will in the midst of his psychosis ends up doing with her the same thing he did to Carrie, and she ends up slaughtered, and that is proven by another of the flashes Will suffers.
7 | And what happened with Rosie?
The episode with Rosie, at the bar, seems to confirm all of the above. When Will arrives at Rosie’s, completely consumed in his madness, he has already committed both crimes, he has already killed Carrie and Alicia, and his mind wanders into the fantasy of the gnostic ritual, the tunnel and the monster of an eye to justify the monstrosity of his crimes on a subconscious level. Now, Will has no way back.
8 | So everything about the Gnostic ritual is a lie?
One point that plays against this theory is the fact that everything that happens around the gnostic ritual – the portal, the cockroaches, the monster – in fact corresponds to some extent with what is available online about Gnostic occultism. But does it really invalidate the theory or perhaps confirm it further?
Most likely, what Will found on the phone, although it is part of a student joke, or perhaps a film project, led him to search on the Internet about what he saw, including the book Translation of Wounds, that we actually saw in the movie and his mind processed the information by feeding his fantasy.
As the quotation says, Will is emotionally and intellectually so empty inside, that once he began to read about the matter, his head absorbed everything and incorporated it into his psyche completely rotten by his experience in the war.
9 | What is the deal with the Morgus, The Magnificent T-shirt?
Morgus, The Magnificent on Will’s shirt is an excellent nod to the madness that Will is descending and an excellent reference to New Orleans, the city where the film takes place.
Morgus, The Magnificent is a character created by actor Sidney Noel Rideau. Morgus, a kind of mad scientist, served as a host of several tv horror series, between the 1950s and 1980s. Will wearing Morgus T-Shirt, points he is some kind of fan of his tv series and that the series itself could feed Will’s twisted fantasy as a whole.
10 | What was the Gnostic ritual?
The ritual that the college students supposedly performed is based on the beliefs of Gnosticism, which, in short, is a series of beliefs in which to achieve salvation or enlightenment, faith is not necessary and / or sufficient, but knowledge of spiritual truths, known as gnosis.
In fact, within Gnosticism, it is believed that matter – bodies, tangible things – is an expression of evil and that the spirit is a spark of divinity whose understanding is what allows human beings to transcend that evil and its earthly existence
Now, Gnosticism is linked to Christianity and is a perspective that this religion had during its first three centuries of existence, before Constantine and the First Council of Nicaea, and interestingly it was based on Plato’s philosophy. In fact, it is a widely held belief in Gnostic circles that Jesus Christ was an ordinary man, who attained divinity when a superior being , a spiritual being – this part is important – possessed his body.
What the ritual apparently intended was to make contact with one of these superior beings through a kind of ceremony that involved slaughtering a human being, and force a portal, a tunnel, to connect this reality with the being in question, a tunnel that linked to someone’s wound.
11 | Are the cockroaches real or not?
Remember that the breaking point is the moment when Will finds the cell phone, and looks at the photos. Until that moment, Will had noticed that there were cockroaches in Rosie’s bar and his mind uses this information to reinforce his convoluted fantasy.
Everything we see later with cockroaches, where they begin to appear everywhere, is simply a product of his imagination, including that filthy final scene.
12 | What is the meaning of Wounds final scene?
In the end we see how Will gets in Eric’s house, and there, using a phone call to Garrett’s number, he causes the wound on his friend’s face to turn into a tunnel and we see how that monster of an eye he saw in his hallucinations, leaves Eric’s body and slowly gets into his mouth, scene in which we do not see much because everything is full of cockroaches.
In Will’s mind, the purpose of the ritual has been completed, and finally he is the one chosen to host that superior being who was summoned. But what happens in reality is much more disturbing.
With this final hallucination, Will ends up consuming for his dark instincts and emotional traumas and eventually becomes, without any scruple, an insane murderer, capable of anything, including killing Eric in cold blood.
The final scene implies that Eric was afraid of Will, but not because of what happened to the college students, but because somehow Eric already knew that Will had killed Carrie and Alicia, and he already knew what he was capable of, and he was witnessing his madness live. Will eventually murders Eric, applying some kind of torture and his mind ends up plunging into darkness. He is completely mired in his mental filth.
13 | What happens to Will afterwards?
If we believe in the idea that what we saw in the movie is true, then we would have to assume that Will is now the guest of a superior being, whose purposes are unknown, but that it has no regard for human life.
But if we believe in the idea that Will subconsciously fabricated the fantasy of the gnostic ritual and that he finally succumbed to the darkness after killing Carrie, Alicia and Eric, what happens after that, if not caught by the police, after finding out his murders is a wave of destruction and death wherever he goes. Once consumed, the internal conflict he had, will simply disappear and he will be the same charming Will, but willing to use that charm to kill.
14 | What is the message of the movie?
We live in a world with comforts that our parents and our grandparents never had, and where you can live relatively well, with just a little effort, without the need to break your back on a farm field, and even without needing to achieve something on school. Many, simply with their charm, with their beauty and with their sympathy, as we see in the now so-called influencers , live very well and without any need, with the least effort you can imagine.
But the film rings an alert bell and that is – when the mind is full of banalities, and dumb shit, as in the case of Will, any idea has the chance to nest in that mind, growing and becoming something out of control.
Those little minds, misinformed, given to leisure and to frivolity, are the first ones to be tempted by ridiculous trends, like the internet challenges, and the first ones to be manipulated by religious or political leaders, that take advantage of thar weakness to enquer their visceral hatred there, to the point that this hatred becomes a way of life, and drives them to commit all kinds of crimes, from vandalism, theft, to pyromania and terrorism.
So if we want to prevent any stupid and dangerous idea from nesting in our psyche, the best prevention is simply to have helpful activities, reading and checking on the quality of information we consume, and yes doing a lot of critical analysis, but always based on fact , not on crazy theories and assumptions, and never on nice looking good intentions.
If the movie is good or bad, we will discuss that later, on the review of the film. 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.