“My Animal (2023),” directed by Jacqueline Castel and released in 2023, is a romance-horror film that features a talented cast, including Bobbi Salvör Menuez as Heather, Amandla Stenberg as Jonny, Heidi Von Palleske, Stephen McHattie, Cory Lipman, and more. The story revolves around Heather, a small-town girl living on the outskirts of town with her family, fiercely guarding a life-changing secret. Isolated and devoid of companionship, Heather yearns for connection and happiness. Her world takes a dramatic turn with the arrival of Jonny, a beautiful figure skater. Jonny ignites her desire to experience joy and companionship once more. However, the dangers of Heather’s secret threaten to shatter the burgeoning friendship between them.

My Animal (2023) Plot Summary & Movie Synopsis:

Heather (Bobbi Salvör Menuez) is a reserved and private young girl who prefers to keep her life hidden from others. With practically no friends, she often steers people away when they attempt to befriend her. Living in seclusion on the outskirts of town, Heather avoids contact with her old classmates and adheres to strict rules set by her mother, particularly regarding night-time activities. The shackles on her bed and the books in her room hint at a hidden secret. In reality, Heather is cursed and transforms into a wolf during the full moon. Her father, Henry (Stephen McHattie), shares this curse, making him the only empathetic presence in her life. On the contrary, her mother, Patti (Heidi Von Palleske), has become a bitter soul, numbed by alcohol and indifferent to the needs of her family. 

Despite her secluded life, Heather aspires to join the school’s hockey team but faces rejection from the coach each time she tries. One day, while buying Lambrusco for her mother, Heather meets (Amandla Stenberg) Jonny at a store and immediately takes a liking to her. Jonny, a dedicated skater pushed by her father’s ambitious dreams of fame, shares Heather’s experience of having a controlling and unemphatic parent. This shared circumstance becomes the cornerstone of their budding friendship.

Do Jonny and Heather Get Together?

Jonny calls Heather and invites her to meet at the corner store. Although initially hesitant, Heather eventually agrees. Patti strongly advises her against going, but Heather insists, promising to return before midnight. Seeing that Heather is set on going, Patti reluctantly gives up and offers Heather her watch to help her keep track of time. Jonny impresses Heather beyond measure by treating her to a thrilling evening at the casino, complete with exciting gaming, free-flowing cocktails, and even a tempting pill offer. As the night progresses in a blur of merriment and good times, Heather suddenly remembers that she’s over her curfew. Fear grows as she realizes her well-hidden secret may soon be exposed. With her heart racing, Heather hastens home; however, she struggles to keep her balance since blood is continually dripping from her nose.

A still from My Animal (2023).
A still from My Animal (2023).

On the other hand, Patti sits in a dimly lit room, contemplating her daughter’s whereabouts and fearing for her safety. Unfortunately, her worst fears materialize the following morning when she discovers Heather outside their home, drenched in blood and devoid of clothing. Henry, deeply concerned for Heather’s safety and that of others admonishes her about the dangers of roaming freely at night. In response, Heather lashes out at her father, imploring him to be more understanding. For years, Heather has lived under the strict curfew enforced by her parents, a constraint that has denied her the freedom typical of teenagers her age. She envies witnessing others relish life’s pleasures, knowing she must return to her room and bind herself in chains. 

The following morning, Jonny inquires why Heather hastily left the previous night, but she deflects the question. A few days later, Heather extends an invitation to Jonny to visit her home. However, Patti creates a scene that disrupts their conversation. Patti not only speaks brusquely to Jonny but also cautions her to leave, asserting that she doesn’t comprehend who Heather truly is. Fortunately, amidst the arguments and chaos, Heather receives some good news—the coach finally grants her a spot on the hockey team. Heather also begins to forge a closer bond with Jonny, finding herself increasingly drawn to her. She even starts to entertain fantasies involving herself and Jonny. 

My Animal (2023) Movie Ending Explained:

Why Did Heather Kill Rick?

Heather finds herself head over heels for Jonny, longing to spend every waking moment with him. However, she despises the fact that Jonny is in a relationship with Rick (Cory Lipman), a controlling and abusive person who doesn’t appreciate her. In turn, Jonny also reciprocates Heather’s feelings and gradually falls for her, too. As time passes, their closeness grows, and they give in to their desires. However, things take a downturn as Heather’s brothers discover her relationship and start distancing themselves from her. To compound her distress, Jonny begins avoiding her after their intimate night. Heather desperately attempts to reach out to her, but all her calls go unanswered, straight to voicemail. She visits Jonny’s house, but his father firmly rejects her, refusing to entertain any of her questions.

Heather finally manages to reach Jonny on the phone and invites him to hang out. To her surprise, Jonny reveals that she’s at Rick’s house and invites her to join them at the party. Despite initial hesitation, Heather decides to attend. However, upon arriving at the party, she discovers that Jonny seems to want nothing to do with her anymore, although the tears in her eyes betray a different truth. The sense of heartbreak and betrayal weighs heavily on her, leaving her shattered. As Heather grapples with Jonny’s sudden distance, a far more devastating blow comes her way—her father, Henry, suffers a heart attack and tragically passes away. The pillar of strength in her life is gone, and the weight of grief and loss feels insurmountable. Adding to her anguish, Heather’s brothers point fingers at her, blaming her for their father’s untimely death. Henry’s demise fundamentally changes Heather, plunging her into a sea of bitterness, mirroring her mother. She grapples with an overwhelming sense of loneliness as if the world has turned its back on her.

Unaware of the impending danger, Heather ventures out of her house under the glow of a full moon. She walks into a bar and unexpectedly finds Jonny and Rick. Heather confronts Jonny, refusing her advice to leave. However, Rick forcibly escorts her outside, pushing her to the limit. Heather, fueled by anger, questions Rick’s manhood, pushing him over the edge. In a horrifying twist of fate, Rick loses control and mercilessly assaults Heather with a cue stick, oblivious to her true nature. As the moon ascends to its full glory, Heather undergoes a chilling transformation. Heather morphs into a wolf and dispatches Rick. With the taste of blood still fresh, she flees into the nearby woods, vanishing among the trees. The following morning, Heather awakens in her room, naked and drenched in blood, with her mother, Patti, tending to her. Patti, fearing for Heather’s safety, sternly advises her to leave their home, convinced it’s no longer a safe haven. The ending of My Animal (2023) shows Heather, heeding her mother’s grim counsel, deciding to leave the town and setting out on a journey into the unknown.

Was Jonny Aware of Heather’s Secret?

Indeed, there are various plausible theories about how Jonny might have become aware of Heather’s secret in the movie. One possibility could be that Jonny overheard Patti discussing Heather’s curse with her husband, and by piecing together this information with what she found in Heather’s bedroom—such as the presence of chains and a book about werewolves—Jonny deduced the truth. Another potential scenario could involve an accidental revelation, perhaps during an intimate moment when Heather was intoxicated or emotionally distressed. Heather might have unintentionally disclosed something, leading to the discovery of her biggest secret. The film leaves these details unexplained, allowing for different interpretations and engaging the audience in speculative discussions about the characters and their motivations. Rick escorts Heather out of the pub in the final moments of the film, asking his pals to keep Jonny inside. He started hitting Heather, not realizing that it would be his last mistake. At the same time, we find Jonny in a restroom, staring at herself in the mirror as she weeps, implying that she is aware of what’s going to happen to Rick. 

Final Thoughts:

The film falls disappointingly short of its ambitious pursuit of emotional resonance. Despite its struggles to delve into the depths of emotion and captivate its audience, it ultimately falters and falls flat, leaving the audience wanting. Its attempts at evoking a genuine emotional response are lackluster at best, rendering the experience akin to a lackadaisical endeavor that ultimately fails to engage or entertain. The potential for a profound and moving encounter is there, but it remains an unfulfilled promise as the film’s attempts lack the sincerity and authenticity needed to truly connect with those who watch it. In the end, it’s a half-hearted attempt that unfortunately ceases to have any lasting impact, leaving an indelible mark of disappointment. 

Read More: Werewolf by Night (2022): Review & Ending, Explained – Was Elsa the rightful owner of the bloodstone?

My Animal (2023) Movie Trailer

My Animal (2023) Movie Links: IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes, Letterboxd
My Animal (2023) Movie Cast: Bobbi Salvör Menuez, Amandla Stenberg, Heidi von Palleske
Where to watch My Animal

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