Come True Ending Explained- Carl Jung, The Persona, The Anima, Animus, And The Self
Come True from one-person filmmaking crew Anthony Scott Burns who wrote, directed, shot, edited, and provided the 80s synth-wave soundtrack under the pseudonym Pilotpriest is surreal. It is the very definition of atmospheric and moody. Hazy shots of generic academic halls, grimy hospital rooms, and sweeping backlit natural vistas comingle with anxiety-inducing nightmares. These are dreams by way of Escher. Darkened bodies hang from ceilings and walls, monumental atrocities flank wooden bridges to doors no one should open, and at the center of this shadowy labyrinth is a black silhouette with glowing eyes. I can’t undersell the impact of the nightmares or the film. Come True will be polarizing. You will either be terrified and love it or hate the twisted ending.
Come True is the kind of experiential movie that is best viewed with zero preconceived notions. It is wildly ambitious, visually stunning, and intensely scary at times. It is also so loose narratively that you aren’t sure what is happening at times until that very final reveal when everything makes perfect sense and no sense at all. Here’s everything you need to know about Anthony Scott Burn’s film.
In the ten-minute opening sequence that is entirely devoid of dialogue, we meet Sarah, a brilliantly vulnerable Julia Sarah Stone, who is sleeping in a park rather than her home. We don’t know why she is reluctant to run into her mother. Sarah spends her time drifting through school, drowning herself in coffee, and losing a battle with extreme fatigue. Desperate to get someplace safe to sleep, she accepts a position in a sleep study. The study, which comprises four men and two women, ushers the subjects into a sickly, dingy-looking clinic where they are hooked up to full body suits of interwoven cables and an impossibly felted helmet. This equipment is designed to record their dreams and digitize them so a hugely bespectacled Dr. Meyer can interpret them.
Shortly after the study begins, Sarah becomes paranoid that someone is stalking her. That someone is Jeremy, Landon Liboiron of Hemlock Grove, who everyone calls Riff. He is a graduate student working on the sleep study and has absolutely no ethical boundaries. Riff explains to her the purpose of the experiment and shows Sarah other’s dreams. This revelation, coupled with additional bouts of nightmares, culminates in a brutal third act and several bizarre twists.
What are Hypnagogic hallucinations?
These hallucinations that occur as a person is falling asleep can include feeling, sound, sights, or even smells. Many people experience these as a sensation of falling. That is why a majority of people have experienced the falling or tripping sensation and startle awake while drifting to sleep. When they are occurring, the person is aware they are awake, but they can’t make sense of the hallucination, and it is often accompanied by sleep paralysis. The most significant difference between a dream and a hallucination is the sufferer believes everything they are experiencing is real despite knowing they are awake. Dr. Meyer and Riff mention hypnagogic hallucinations often when describing the initial phases of sleep, and Dr. Meyer believes the two male subjects who both wake simultaneously and see the glowing-eyed man are having them.
The Ending of Come True Explained?
If you watched clear to the end, thinking you knew exactly what happened, you were probably shocked by the WTAF circus of twists that is flung mercilessly at the viewer. Riff makes the dubious decision not only to take his high school subject matter home, but he also has sex with her. In the middle of the act, Sarah begins seeing the glowing-eyed men behind Riff. She appears to fall into a deep sleep, and Riff can not wake her. He takes her to a hospital, but Sarah begins sleepwalking before they can diagnose her. Riff calls Anita to bring a portable version of their sleep equipment, and the three continue walking into the middle of nowhere. Sarah, who had been sleepwalking with Riff and Anita watching over her, wakes up.
Sarah sees Riff has her phone stolen earlier in the film when she fell asleep, and some boys took it. All three are in the dark on a road surrounded by woods. In the woods, there are the glowing-eyed men she has been dreaming about. The trio runs from the men, but each one is dragged back into the woods until Sarah wakes from the dream within a dream and finds she has killed Riff while having sex.
If that isn’t confusing enough, she walks into the bathroom, looks at her blood-splattered body, and sees she has newly acquired vampire fangs. While spying on Riff’s dreams earlier, she saw his dream about the two of them, where they appear to have fangs and later kiss. While you are still reeling from the dream within a dream and vampire reveal, Come True gives you one final twist. A text message from a phone tells her they are trying a new therapy to wake her up. She has been in a coma for twenty years.
What does all of that mean? How do you know what is real and what is a dream? In all likelihood, Sarah’s pre-study life is real. She is a runaway who starts a sleep study out of necessity. Most of the study is probably true as well. Reasonable guesses would place everything, including the sex scene, in the real category. Since we don’t know why Sarah left home or what the glowing-eyed man represents, we can only armchair shrink her behaviors.
If Sarah was abused and the glowing-eyed man symbolizes her abuser, her sexual encounter with Riff may have triggered her hallucination and coma. From that point on, everything is a dream, or dream within a dream. She has been in the hospital in a coma for twenty years. The phone’s message is some subconscious encoding of information designed to help her escape the byzantine tunnels of her mind.
The other possibility is everything, including the study, is a figment of her imagination combined with the noises she hears while in the coma. The other woman in the sleep study that abruptly disappeared could have been a patient in the bed next to hers that was discharged. Riff, Dr. Meyer, and the rest of the lab techs could be doctors and nurses all trying to wake her. However, this is less plausible since we saw Dr. Meyer and the other techs without Sarah on occasions. Her vampire fangs are just a subliminal message from another therapy attempt. In this scenario, she fell into a coma before the sleep study or very early on.
What is The Persona, The Anima and Animus, and The Self?
Title Cards scattered throughout the first two acts of Come True should have been hints that what we were seeing wasn’t everything there is to the story. The three titles are inventions of Dr. Carl Jung. Carl Jung was a swiss psychiatrist who founded what is known today as analytical psychology. First, the Persona is the person we project to the outside world. This is the person we want the world to see. It is often the polished version of ourselves. The job of the Persona is to tamp down all emotions and instincts that are not socially acceptable. Problems can arise when the Persona overwhelms the real self, and the person can’t distinguish their authentic self from the image they portray. Sarah may be having trouble reconciling sexual abuse or denying a violent streak; thus, her Persona is an innocent teenager.
The next component of the Jungian personality is curiously the Shadow or Shadow self. This is this part of us that is dark and morally grey. It includes all the things we have denied in ourselves and ridicule in others. Things like sexuality, greed, cowardice, and selfish behaviors would all fall in this purview. Often when we see these negative traits in others, we recognize them in ourselves but are unwilling to admit them. For Sarah, the glowing-eyed man who is always a shadow could be those parts of herself she isn’t willing to acknowledge. It also explains why all the test subjects see the same image. All of them are having anxiety over the denial of their shadow self in favor of the Persona. The eye that bleeds and is patched has a darkened iris. This could be symbolic of the Shadow overtaking the Persona.
In every man and woman, Jung argues there lives the perfect opposite sex. Meaning that your ideal example of an ideal man or woman resides in the Anima and Animus. Jung presents the concept, not as arbitrary stereotypes but mythical Gods Eros and Logos. Eros, the female, is creativity, relationships, and wholeness, while Logos, the male, is power, thought, and action. If a man rejects their Anima, what would have been sensitivity and love becomes moodiness and possessiveness. If a woman denies her Animus instead of being assertive and ambitious, she becomes aggressive and ruthless. When Sarah discovers fangs, this may be symbolic of her rejecting her Animus and becoming a violent monster.
Once an individual has overcome the Persona and integrated the Shadow and the Anima and Animus, they can access the deepest reaches of the mind, the Self. The Self is everything we are now, everything we once were, and everything we will become. It is the seed from which self-actualization grows. It is the highest level of enlightenment and can only occur once we have forced the Shadow out in the light and accepted it.
Why do the other test subjects see the glowing-eyed man?
Assuming the study is real, then the other subjects see the glowing-eyed man because he manifests their internal demons. It isn’t as far-fetched as you would think. There are universal themes that doctors have identified. Dreams of falling, flying, teeth crumbling, test anxiety, and being chased are all quite common. Being haunted by a spirit or the dead is also something most people have experienced. While sleep paralysis and Night Terrors are less common, many people have experienced them and know how terrifying they are.
Suppose the test is not real, then each of the people who see the glowing-eyed man see him because he is the universal monster in their unconscious minds. He is Jung’s Shadow. That would mean comatose victims could share this experience and make the study far more meaningful than just a weirdo doctor and lab tech with freaky sleep habits and questionable morals. Sarah may see the glowing-eyed man because he is her Shadow self, or he may be what haunts her knowing she at least imagines gouging someone’s eyes out. Another totally out there meaning to the ending could be she killed Riff in a nightmare and relives that experience repeatedly in her coma.
Come True is a breathtakingly creepy movie. The underlying dread that simmers just below the surface of every shot is overwhelming. Sounds bombard your ears with things familiar yet wrong. Faint dripping water reminds you of sewage instead of babbling brooks, and a wooden crunching noise that is precisely what you think trees sound like as they grow is so disturbing you want to turn the sound down. While this film doesn’t stick the landing, it does enough with the nightmare visions you figure the minor misstep. Come True is out everywhere you stream movies today.
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.