Matriarch (2022) Movie Ending, Explained: Hulu’s latest horror flick, “Matriarch,” is definitely not a movie for everyone, but it has plenty of compelling ideas to offer. Following the events in the life of a middle-aged woman, Laura, we see her witness a life-changing event after which she decides to visit her childhood house. What happens then is full of intrigue, shocking revelations, and, yes, enough gore.
Debutant filmmaker Ben Steiner, who also wrote the film, creates a triple goddess archetype of sorts with the film’s overarching story. It opens with the shot of a naked man stepping into what looks like a pond filled with dark water amidst pitch darkness. Twenty years later, Laura’s mother, Celia, calls her daughter and invites her back home. The film then tries to use gore and supernatural horror to equal ends but doesn’t quite embrace its more exciting aspects. “Matriarch” might be just fine if you are looking for a one-time watch of body horror demonic entertainment. However, there is plenty that needs discussion and breakdown in this 85-minute film. Spoilers follow.
Matriarch (2022)- Movie Synopsis and Summary
As we learn, Laura is a hardworking woman who lives a lonely life in a busy metropolis. Her successes in professional life don’t quite translate into her social ones. Laura has also seemingly tried her luck with romance, but her self-destructive lifestyle also gets in the way. She seems to have a friendly relationship with her boss, Maxine, but this also seems to be more from the boss’s side than Laura’s. She latches onto her, reminding Maxine of her daughter’s death, and immediately apologizes. Instead of going out for drinks or social interactions, the protagonist prefers spending time by herself in the apartment, accompanied by only excess alcohol and cocaine. When she calls her ex-lover over to her place, they both end up in an argument, leaving Laura alone to drink once again. She snorts cocaine and dances on her own as the camera reflects her hazy and confused state of mind until she passes out.
After spiraling into this that night, the following day, Laura faces the terrible consequence — her body gives up due to the overdose, faints, and falls to the ground. In what seems to be hallucinatory visions, we see some black liquid flow toward her and into her mouth. Two hands come out of the darkness in the bathroom and reach out to her. Laura opens her eyes, surprisingly survives the ordeal, and returns to work the next day.
But this incident wasn’t that simple because, coincidentally, Laura receives a phone call from her estranged mother right after this encounter. The contact from the mother, for the first time in twenty years, makes Laura decide to visit her mother and her hometown after these long twenty years.
What Happens When Laura Visits Her Hometown?
After returning to the secluded English village named Moorlinch Greinton, Laura hopes she can finally calm the demons raging inside of her and come to terms with her mother. We soon sense that there had been some serious troubles between the mother and daughter growing up. Laura, to her surprise, also notices how Celia has aged very little, like most other people in the village. Although what happened between them is never really visually shown, there are enough hints that say how Celia was basically a mother who mistreated Laura and would shout at her for every little inconvenience.
In the present day, Celia claims that she had never physically hurt Laura and used to hurl verbal harshness at her at times merely. Laura is livid at her mother’s attempt in order to make her actions seem less cruel. The other village residents, too, do not appear welcoming of Laura; there’s always a presence that makes her feel as if she’s been observed. We, as the audience, don’t get to see everything, just hints to unsettling scores. While nothing is directly mentioned, it seems that the reason many villagers get taken aback by Laura is because of her romantic relationship with another girl her age, Abi. Laura meets Abi and notices that she’s the only one who appears to have aged. But Abi is disappointed and hurt as Laura, back in the day, had just disappeared and left for the metropolis more than twenty years ago without having informed Abi about anything.
The village’s weird cult-like nature kicks in in the film’s final 30 minutes. We see an old couple make love to each other, all while being cramped inside a car, unable to stop even though they want to. Abi also starts acting weird and follows Laura around by reporting her movements to someone over her phone. Even in Laura’s own house, we see Celia regularly mix some sedatives in the water or jam that she gives to Laura. On the very first night of Laura in the village, she seems to be in a deep slumber induced by the sedative. That very night her mother drags her out of her room and the house and pulls her towards the garden around a dark, mysterious room, but Laura wakes up before Celia can take her there, and she manages to flee the scene.
By the time Laura is completely awake, she finds herself alone on their lawn and thinks she might have sleepwalked. Laura also finds her mother’s personal diary while going through her things, and from it, she discovers that her mother has had a very intimate relationship with men in the village and even rates her experiences with them. While the daughter initially keeps this to herself, she later jokingly brings this up in front of Celia. She does not take this well and orders, Laura to get out of the house. In reality, however, she uses this as an excuse to hide something physical happening to her.
Ever since the overdose-induced blackout, Laura had noticed a black fluid coming out of her nose oftentimes. Now she notices this very same black ink-like slimy liquid while menstruating as well. Celia, too, has been getting this same black liquid replacing all her blood and bodily fluids. We see it coming out of her nose after she acts offended by the remarks her daughter makes regarding the diary. Later, some villagers are also shown to secrete a similar black liquid. Hence, it becomes clear that the very first time Laura saw the liquid during her overdose was not a hallucination of any kind but, indeed, a real occurrence.
Who Was Laura’s Father? How Does It All Connect?
Laura all her life believed that her father had committed suicide right before her birth by drowning himself in a swampy lake behind their house. But in reality, as we learn in the film’s final act from Abi’s father, the man used to be a practitioner of black magic and some similar dark secretive arts. After his marriage with Celia, the mother wanted a child of their own, but the couple was unable to conceive. So, the father decided to sacrifice himself in the slimy pond in order to get a child. After stepping in, he gets a demonic figure of a six-breasted matriarch to come down and live in the same village. This demon had then given birth to Laura through Celia, for the assumed mother to rear as her own.
However, Celia did not enjoy this shared motherhood and got insecure, which explains she was harsh on Laura. As Celia was the mother to her child, the demonic matriarch gave her certain powers- one of which was that black liquid she secreted from her breasts. This liquid, as it turns out, was a rich source of virility and youth. After Laura left the village, her mother started to use this liquid by profiteering out of it, selling it to the villagers in exchange for power and money.
Matriarch (2022) Ending, Explained
Twenty years later, all the villagers were now totally dependent on Celia’s influence to share her power with them; without the black liquid, they would all get very old and have already died way earlier. Laura witnesses this, as we do when she goes to the local church and sees her mother standing on the pedestal, and all the villagers feed the black liquid off her breasts. They then indulge themselves in what comes across as some form of an orgy. The only people who had refused to sell their souls to this dark magic were the village priest, Abi’s father, and his wife.
Because she was the daughter of an other-worldly demon (or Goddess), Laura was expected to possibly carry on the matriarch lineage by carrying dark powers. But because she had lived a self-destructive life, Celia believes Laura must pay back to get her life back. It is now revealed that Laura had actually died during her drug-induced overdose that night, but the matriarch had used her powers to revive her to life. The demon now wanted her daughter to return to her, as claimed by Celia. Laura now realizes that the demon’s calling eventually led her there. Celia convinces her to step into the darkness in the store room at the back of their garden, where the beastly matriarch lives. Celia supplies her with the gooey black liquid that powers her, with the help of which the village survives.
Ken – who used to believe that his wife and daughter were also against the acts of Celia and the villagers since it was against the beliefs of Christianity – tries to stop all this. But later, he too finds out that Abi had actually switched sides a few years earlier as, much like her mother, she too had gotten cancer. When the matriarch’s powers were fading because Laura had not yet been handed over to her, Abi’s cancer was also returning, and she was now helping Celia sacrifice her daughter only to ensure her own recovery. Ken cannot digest all of this, and the man stabs himself to death. Laura, now helpless, is given over to the matriarch.
It is where the movie turns our expectations upside down. Unlike what was expected, the matriarch lets Laura go, not acting over her sacrifice. The woman now takes her revenge against Celia, setting things right once and for all. Laura cuts off the black water supply to the beastly matriarch and sets her free. She then takes Celia to the church and asks her to confess the truth to the villagers begging on her feet for the black liquid. After finding out that Celia still takes pride in her influence, Laura hits her with a shotgun, smashing her skull into pieces.
After this act, Laura finally returns to her house alone. Later, we see her walk into the same swampy pond behind their house garden and drown herself in it, thus, bringing the story a full circle. It’s left up to us, the viewers, what this self-sacrifice meant. But what becomes apparent is that the movie tries to visually depict the obligations and responsibilities your lineage brings upon you. In the end, whether Laura, too, would turn into a beastly matriarch and provide for the entire village is left ambiguous. Or maybe she’s now peacefully reunited with her father. You can watch “Matriarch” on Hulu.