Aftermath 2021 Explained-The True Story Of Jerry Rice and Janice Ruhter, Nerium, And The Wild Ending
The Sean Ashmore and Ashley Greene helmed thrilled, Aftermath on Netflix right now is billed as inspired by actual events. Lots of horror movies, particularly haunted house types, like to claim that. Almost anything could be. Inspired literally means you saw a real story that prompted the writer to spin a yarn. In the case of Aftermath, it seems to be the real-life saga of Jerry Rice, Janice Ruhter, and Kathy Rowe. Here’s everything you need to know about the true story and the bonkers ending of Aftermath.
Aftermath finds Ashmore’s Kevin and Greene’s Natalie on the wrong side of a real estate deal gone very sour. The Dadich’s are a young couple who buy a home that seems too good to be true because it is. Kevin works as a biohazard scene cleaner while he finishes school. So when one of the homes he cleans becomes available for purchase at an incredible price because of a grisly murder-suicide, the couple buys it. It is a way for the struggling pair to grab a piece of the dream.
The couple and their dog move in, and it becomes clear right away Kevin and Natalie are not the perfect happy couple, and the house was cheap because there is something very wrong with it. Through the next hour and a half, Natalie’s sister gets taken, their dog is poisoned, Kevin is poisoned, Natalie is brutally attacked, and a supremely creepy tall thin man seems to stalk them. What is real and what is a product of a wild imagination is the big question. In the end, the reality of things is far more bizarre than anything we could have imagined.
The ending of Aftermath
It turns out poor Kevin and Natalie have been harassed, stalked, and attacked by two different forces. The home’s original owners, Erin and Jay, died in the murder-suicide we see Kevin cleaning at the beginning. They were in a terrible marriage where Jay cheated constantly, and Erin retaliated with an affair of her own. Erin designed the home from the ground up, and that becomes very important later. Jay’s sister is the one who inherited the house after their deaths and sold it to Natalie and Kevin. Natalie’s attack was orchestrated by Jay’s sister’s husband, Robert, who had serious money trouble and hoped to scare the Dadich’s into selling the home back to him. He denied poisoning anyone or threatening Natalie in the house, though. It turns out he was honest about that.
The strange thin man Natalie sees, the poisoning, and the creepy pictures she finds on her phone were Otto’s. Otto is the man Erin was having an affair with. She built a hidden space accessed through the closet so he could remain with her hidden in the house. When Erin rejected him in favor of her husband, he snapped and killed them both. After their murders, he stayed inside his hidden space. Pictures seen in his lair show he was once a groomed, well-adjusted man but at some point became extremely dangerous and disturbed. After Natalie and Kevin move in, he becomes obsessed with Natalie and removes everyone around her. This is why he killed Natalie’s sister Dani and poisoned the dog and Kevin. His plan was to replace Erin with Natalie.
Otto sends a message to Kevin to stay away so he could kidnap and chain up Natalie. Luckily Kevin returns home right as Natalie is freeing herself, and the couple manages to kill Otto. Or so we think. They sell the house, and as they move out the closet door, Otto has been using moves on its own. Is Otto still alive? Were there multiple people living in the hidden space? Does Otto’s ghost haunt the house? We never know as the credits roll. It was likely just a draft, but Otto was seriously disturbed, so anything is possible.
What is Nerium?
Nerium Oleander or simply Oleander as it is more commonly referred is an extremely poisonous shrub or small tree. The pretty plant is hardy in subtropical regions and flowers red, pink, yellow, or white for nearly half of the year. Even a small amount can be dangerous to humans and animals. Ingestion of the toxin can cause heart problems, weakness, confusion, visual disturbances, dizziness, and intestinal problems. All parts of the plant are dangerous. The plant exudes a sticky substance that can irritate the skin and burning the plant can cause eye and respiratory issues. When the leaves or flowers are distilled in heated water like tea it becomes deadly.
The true story of Jerry Rice and Janice Ruhter
The harrowing real story of Rice and Ruhter mirrors some of the events from Aftermath. In the fall of 2011, Rice and Ruhter outbid Kathy Rowe on a house in Carmel Valley. Rowe did not take the defeat lightly. She started a year-long campaign to punish the couple. Rowe canceled their mail service after ordering thousands of dollars worth of magazines. She also sent Valentine’s cards to many of Rice and Ruhter’s neighbors, claiming they were from Rice. The worst event was an attempt to have Ruhler raped. Eventually, Rowe was caught and given home surveillance and probation for five years. She admitted she did everything because she was angry they got the house she wanted.
Rowe’s attorney argued the stress of dealing with an ill husband and disabled daughter led her to become unhinged. When she lost the house, it was the tipping point for the woman on the edge. Ironically Rowe was named Mother of the Year in 2006. Although she never poisoned the couple, she did torment them with countless ads designed to create a situation where Ruhter was attacked and raped. She instructed suitors to force their way into the house and force sex on her. The ads placed by Rowe claimed to be from Ruhler and gave men directions, including vulnerable times to attack and her address. She apologized, but the couple remains scared. The campaign of terror left a mark on the pair who still live in the house but remain wary of Rice.
The horrors of homeownership can be real. Taking a similar but less thoughtful path as Oscar winner Parasite, there are things that can lurk in the walls of homes you may never know. Aftermath on Netflix right now shows how the housing market isn’t just competitive. It is deadly. It also proves it isn’t just scorned women you would watch out for. Hopefully, the worst most of us will ever experience is some minor flooding and a broken oven. The craziest house guest I want to live in my home is my dog. You can find Aftermath on Netflix right now.
As the TV/Streaming Editor for Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre tv. I grew up with old school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. When I’m not watching and writing about my favorite movies and series, I’m introducing my family to the wonderful world of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. My only regret, there is not enough time in the day to watch everything.