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Monstrous 2022 Ending Explained- What Happened To Cody And What Was Real?

There are several things to understand about Monstrous. The film, written by Carol Chrest and directed by Chris Sivertson, plays out like several different movies at once. It first presents as a haunted house movie that morphs into a creature feature. It later shifts into a psychological thriller and concludes back where it started as a ghost story. The fairly standard haunts give way to something weirder and, quite frankly, more interesting.

Official Trailer Screengrab

Christina Ricci, fresh off of her stellar work as everyone’s favorite off-kilter Citizen Detective Misty on Yellowjackets, plays Laura. She has fled with her son Cody(Santino Barnard) to a remote cabin outside of a California town. There is some messy business in her past with a violent husband, who calls her constantly on her green rotary phone because it’s the mid-’50s, a point continuously made. Laura wears adorable flared skirts and enough polka dots and pantyhose for even the most nostalgic. Chirpy hits like Bill Hayley and the Comets’ Later Alligator plays in the background imbuing everything with sunshine and whimsy until something dark and sinister starts rattling the windows and shaking the lights.

It’s evident early on there is something not quite right about Laura’s too-bright smile and too-perfect new life. Cody isn’t happy, and Laura seems out of place despite her robin’s egg blue chevy, steno-pool job, and constantly blaring dishwasher commercial. For one thing, an ever-changing monster keeps dragging itself out of the lake behind their house, tormenting Cody. Additionally, the townsfolk all look at her strangely and ask unsettling questions. Cody isn’t making any friends, but she is determined to start over.

The nods to a bygone era aren’t just in the costuming and set pieces either. The story itself seems ripped from a Twilight Zone episode or The Creature From The Black Lagoon. It plays with your expectations, and a series of back half reveals elevate the simple bumps in the night into a complex and ambiguous tale. Here’s everything you need to know about the ending of Monstrous.

Is Laura insane?

There is something wrong with Laura from the beginning. For someone fleeing an abusive husband, she is in decidedly good spirits. She has plenty of money and, beyond her refusal to take his calls, she isn’t that worried about him following her. Her cabin is huge, adorable, clean, and well-appointed, even if the only station the black and white television gets plays the same commercial repeatedly, and mysterious rips appear on the couch. Laura doesn’t let those things get her down and presses on forging a new ideal life for her and Cody. There are signs everywhere, though.

Everything is told from Laura’s perspective, so we see things through her delusion. She thinks little girls are tattling on Cody at school when in reality, they were reporting her strange behavior. In a flashback, we see her with her grandmother, and she is enthralled with another time period. When Laura goes to work, her coworker asks about her dress. It could be a simple question, but knowing what we learn later, it’s clear Laura was being asked why she was wearing such outdated fashion. There is also the sound of a cell phone vibrating a handful of times, including in the final act. Both her mother and husband seem very worried about Laura and wonder where she is. Things fade and warp in her cabin as time goes by, but everything is technicolor perfection again in a blink of an eye.

When she goes to pick up Cody from school after quitting her job and spending an afternoon drinking, he is missing. Worse still, a policeman is there to take her to the station. A social worker comes in to help Laura remember a nagging truth that she forgot. Cody is dead and has been this whole time. Not only that, but it isn’t 1955; it’s 2022. The buzz we heard several times in the movie came from her phone that she had tucked away in her purse. Everything that did not fit the carefully curated narrative was transformed into something more era-appropriate. Laura had a job, but it wasn’t working as a typist. Instead, she probably was a legal secretary or executive assistant that typed up reports and emailed them with attached documents.

After learning the real truth, Laura walked out of the station when she was briefly left alone and out into the busy and loud modern streets. Like the reveal in M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village, everything was window dressing covering up a darker truth. Laura began imagining things after her son died. She at first talks about her husband being at fault. She says he was supposed to be watching Cody while she was at the store, but Cody’s words at the end make it seem more likely she was the one home. He tells her it wasn’t her fault. Her nightmares about drowning and his trouble breathing during an argument were his attempt at showing her what happened.

Throughout Monstrous, Laura drinks heavily, and in especially stressful situations, she grabs her side. This is never explained, but a few guesses can be made. She could be suffering from liver trouble after drinking so much, or she could be feeling physical pain wrought by the emotional pain of losing a child. On some deep level, Laura knows she is unstable. She calls a doctor early on inquiring about medication because she senses something is wrong even if she cannot face it yet. She tells the doctor she thinks she needs to go on medication again. Laura likely sought treatment after the death of her son by drowning. Then, nearing Cody’s birthday, she snapped and invented everything we see play out in Monstrous.

Are the ghosts real in Monstrous?

There are two of them, in fact. The swamp thing, which is also a lady in the lake type ghost, appears to Cody and Laura numerous times in the film. Unlike Laura’s confusion over time, this ghost does exist. Despite her terrifying visage, she is there to help Cody move on to the next place peacefully. Cody can communicate with her and isn’t afraid of her because he is also a ghost. Cody has known from the beginning that he was dead. He also knew his mother was lost in a fantasy that prevented them from moving on.

In the final moments of Monstrous, Laura leaves the police station and returns to the cabin. Cody confronts her and begs her to let him “go home.” She is desperate to hold on to him, though, and refuses. Enraged, he breaks dishes and windows and flings Laura against the wall. Cody is a poltergeist capable of affecting the world around him. Finally realizing what she was doing, Laura goes with Cody and hands him to the woman in the lake. She then leaves the cabin and drives away. The cabin owners find the mess left behind and a photograph of the woman in the lake. Although most of what Laura saw was fantasy, both ghosts were real.

Monstrous has a lot going for it, namely Ricci, whose girlish charm plays very well when juxtaposed with a dose of insanity and a nifty creature that has a few tricks up its sleeve. While a few threads go unpulled, there’s enough creativity and twists to satisfy any horror lover. You can stream it on VUDU or in select theaters right now. Read our full review here.