Level 16 Ending Explained
The dystopian nightmare Level 16 is a cautionary tale of unchecked male aggression and undervalued humanity. Level 16, which dropped on Netflix a few weeks ago, is a sci-fi parable of beauty and youth and the power of money. Like another excellent rumination on Capitalism Squid Games, it harshly critiques a society gone very wrong. Director Danishka Esterhazy is making a clear statement about the dangers of the male gaze. When life is only as crucial as the arbitrary beauty assigned to it, the world is destined to fail. Although this is a sci/fi horror hybrid, make no mistake, this is feminist horror at its best. Tightly paced and atmospheric Esterhazy builds tension layer by layer until the conclusion that will likely have you guessing. Here are all your questions answered.
Vivian, Sophia, and a whole group of girls live in a school that teaches them how to be “clean girls” until their adoption date at age 16. They are given very rigid rules that must be obeyed at all costs. They learn things like how to clean and moisturize and what to wear. The girls are divided into halls and levels. Each evening the girls are given a blue pill that sedates them.
We first meet Sophia and Vivian when they are much younger. Vivian drops her cream container while in line, and Sophie tries to help her only to miss her time at the sink. She is severely punished, although we never see what happens to her. In all likelihood, she is locked in a cage in the wall that we see later.
Years later, on Level 16, they are reunited, and Sophia secretly tells Vivian not to take the pills which Miss Brixil calls vitamins. Vivian spits out the medication in the toilet and that night fakes her sedation. She and Olivia, another girl, are inspected by an older couple, and when Vivian is returned to Rose Hall, she tells Sophia what she has seen. The girls try to escape from that point on, with Vivian wanting to simply leave and Sophia wanting to save all the girls.
Unfortunately, Vivian trusts Dr. Miro a bit too much, and he drugs her when she tells him about one of the guards who is sexually assaulting the girls while they sleep. She tries to keep herself awake by poking herself with a pin but loses it. In her panic, she searches wildly and finds a key card that Sophia stole and tried to save her with. The key card doesn’t work, but she can use it to unscrew the screws on the door hinges. She and Sophia then make plans to escape.
The ending of Level 16.
From the beginning, it is clear there is something very wrong with the girls’ institution. They are indoctrinated with constant antiquated feminine virtues designed to produce beautiful lemmings who willingly give up their youth. They are told how to act, what to think, when to eat and sleep, and their precious faces are protected at all costs. At the end of Level 16, Sophie and Vivian find Rita dead with her face removed and put all the pieces together. They now know they are nothing but lab specimens grown for rich older women. The girls decide they have to escape and argue about how to do it.
Sophia wants to save all the girls while Vivian cares only about herself and Sophia. Vivian begrudgingly agrees to wait for Sophia to rescue the girls, and they eventually make it outside. Dr. Miro finds them and tries to convince Vivian to help him round up the girls. Instead, she refuses and cuts her face ensuring she is no longer valuable to him. The girls are all rescued by Russian police and see the sunlight for the first time in their lives.
Dr. Miro is surrounded by scary Russian guys who say Alex wants to see him. The last we see of Dr. Miro, he is being escorted away, and then we hear a gunshot. Presumably, he was killed by the Russian mobster that run the organization. As far as Miss Brixil who is locked in the same cage she locked Vivian in earlier; we don’t know her fate. Hopefully, the same police that rescued all the girls will find her, and she will be prosecuted.
Who is Alex?
Alex is never seen in Level 16. He is mentioned by Dr. Miro and Miss Brixil several times, including a conversation we overhear between Miss Brixil and Alex at the beginning of the film. Both Dr. Miro and Miss Brixil are afraid of him. Along with a group of other wealthy benefactors, he brings clients to the facility to choose new faces for their wives and girlfriends. Dr. Miro and Miss Brixil are just employees.
However, in the final act, it is revealed Miss Brixil was also a “sponsor” or a client and is wearing one of the girl’s faces. It is never confirmed, but it appears Miss Brixil and Dr. Miro had an affair. In exchange for her help with his experiments, the group of benefactors, including Alex, allowed her to upgrade to a more youthful face. Considering the callous way the men in Level 16 treat women, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn Alex and Miss Brixil had an affair first, and he introduced her to Dr. Miro.
What was the Vestalis Institute?
The Vestalis Institute is a farm that raises young girls whose youth and the wealthiest people harvest beauty. It is a service financed by Alex and a group of other financiers that are likely Russian mobsters. The service uses poor children whose parents sold them to the facility as commodities. They are kept sedated except for five short hours daily when they feed themselves, wash and moisturize their skin, and watch behavior modification tapes. Miss Brixil and Dr. Miro, along with a few guards, facilitate the buyers in selecting and then harvesting the girl’s faces for implantation on older women.
The Institute propagates patriarchal ideas of women’s worth and beauty. The older couple who comes and selects Olivia midway through the movie show the rich men only care about having beautiful young wives. The older woman getting the transplant appears not to want to lose her face but ultimately agrees because the alternative is to be left penniless or worse. Through conversations between Miss Brixil and Dr. Miro, we later learn that the children are sedated all but five hours a day for financial reasons. The Institute promises a perfect genetic match. One of the girls gets an injection before she is “adopted” by her family. It is never explained, but the injections probably alter the girl’s genetic material to make it compatible with the sponsor who will be assuming it.
Level 16 is like many other Logan’s Run-themed movies and series that warn against capitalism and female subordination. It is an interesting film propped up by a minimalist set and an outstanding performance by Katie Douglas(Vivien). You can watch it on Netflix right now but don’t forget to each and moisturize first. No one likes an “unclean” girl.
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.