River Wild (2023): Movie Ending Explained – What Happens to Trevor in the End?

River Wild (2023) Movie Ending Explained

River Wild (2023), directed by Ben Ketai, is a film you should not watch if you are scared of adventure sports, especially river rafting. Shot in the heart of a forest, it traces the course of a river along which glides a party of five – Gray, Joey, Trevor, Karissa, and Van – on a raft. Nature is at its untamed best, and so is one of the five members of this group. This rafting trip will test the bond between a brother and sister and two friends. River Wild (2023) will keep you hooked to the screen for ninety minutes, promising several twists and turns that we will decode below. Spoilers ahead! 

River Wild (2023) Summary & Synopsis:

River Wild (2023) begins with Joey (played by Leighton Meester) driving to meet her brother, Gray (played by Taran Killam), at a river site. She seems to be talking (or avoiding) her partner over a phone call. Once at the site, it is quickly understood that Gray has two paying tourists – Karissa (played by Olivia Swann) and Van (played by Eve Conolly) – accompanying them on their river rafting adventure. There’s, however, a fifth person on this trip – Trevor (played by Adam Brody) – and from his conversation with Joey, it is clear that he has been in prison for a while. The conversation between Joey and Trevor is uncomfortable, making it clear that he seems to be a liability or intruder in this vacation.

Soon, the five hops on a raft and make their way down the gushing waters of the river, successfully getting around the first couple of water bends carefully. Nightfall arrives, and the team decides to camp near the banks and inside the forest. They light a fire, and Van brings out a bottle of liquor to enjoy the night while Joey leaves the company to rest awhile. Soon, Trevor, Karissa, and Van get drunk.

Gray sticks to his sobriety. Only he and Karissa sit near the fire while Van and Trevor go off into the dark to relieve themselves when an accident occurs. Joey and the rest run toward the screams to discover that Van has injured herself and is bleeding from her head. Thankfully, Joey is a trained medical professional and diagnoses her injury as a skull fracture that could lead to swelling and death.

She advises the party to head towards Ranger Station Six, a two-hour river ride, for immediate medical help. While the two men are away looking for a first aid kit and the phone to call for help, Van reveals that it was Trevor who had grabbed her. The details of the accident are never brought up again. But it is understood that Van may have tried to resist Trevor’s advances, leading to the injury.

With Van lying on the raft floor, the four of them set out in the dead of night towards Ranger Station Six. However, it is pitch dark, and none of them are able to steer the raft in the right direction, leading to a situation where each of the five members in the group is plunged into the water, and their raft is upturned. Joey manages to save a drowning Van, who is undergoing seizures due to her declining health, while Gray saves Karissa.

All this while, Trevor is acting jittery. Joey informs Gray that the accident was Trevor’s fault. The latter may be actively trying to keep the group from getting medical help for Van so that her death could cover up his illicit act. At daybreak, when they finally reach the bank, Gray and Trevor make their way through the forest to reach the ranger’s office, despite Trevor trying to hold up Gray by asking him whether he has his back.

Once at the ranger’s office, Gray explains the situation to him, and the range officer is about to file a complaint and call for professional medical help when Trevor intervenes. He seems to be panicking about any official records of this incident, getting into a physical brawl with the ranger, killing him with his own gun, and destroying the communication devices in the office. Trevor and Gray cover up the crime scene by staging a car accident.

Trevor now possesses the ranger’s gun and threatens the rest of the group to adhere to his plans – fleeing the US and entering Canada via the river, where there will be no guards to acquit him of his crimes. Although everyone in the group protests, Trevor can commit violence against the rest, so they all set out on the raft toward Canada. Unfortunately, Van does not survive this journey.

While passing under a bridge, Joey manages to draw the attention of a hitchhiker. The party converses lightly with the hitchhiker. However, Trevor freaks out about having a dead girl on the raft. They stop for the night along the bank and bury Van’s body first. Later, Joey tells Gray about her experience with Trevor as a sexual predator. Meanwhile, the hitchhiker from earlier this day spotted something strange about the group and followed their tracks.

He tries to rescue Karissa, Gray, and Joey while Trevor sleeps. Unfortunately, his movements alert the latter. Trevor shoots him dead and instructs the others to bury him as well before they set out toward their destination. This time, the girls’ hands are tied by a rope. Subsequently, Trevor warns Gray against any pointless struggle against him till they reach Canada. The journey is reaching its last leg and calls for the survival of the fittest.

Is River Wild 2023 a remake?

River Wild (2023) Movie Ending Explained
Leighton Meester in The River Wild (2023)

The River Wild is a 1994 movie starring Meryl Streep, Kevin Bacon, David Strathairn, and John C. Reilly. It was a movie that tested human relationships and their tenacity to survive against all odds presented by the natural world. River Wild (2023) is not a remake of the 1994 movie, mainly because the characters and their relationships in this movie are a lot less defined and different from The River Wild (1994). However, it can be called a reimagining of the 1994 cult classic.

Are there any survivors in River Wild 2023?

When the film begins, five people set out on the rafting trip – Gray, the trip leader; his sister, Joey; his old friend, Trevor; and two paid tourists, Van and Karissa. However, as their trip descends into chaos, Van is the first to succumb to her skull fracture. Towards the end of the movie, Trevor and Gray also meet their end in a tragic fall. While Joey is injured, she is rescued in time to be saved by Karissa and the ranger crew.

Why is Joey uncomfortable around Trevor?

It is revealed to us in the course of the movie that Trevor had sexually violated Joey when she was only fifteen years old and out on an adventure trip with Gray and his friends. She admits being disinterested in the act of sexual intimacy and being hurt by Gray’s nonchalance, even indulgence of Trevor, in this act. Besides, Trevor has served a considerable time in prison, which does not reflect his personality in good light. Joey is probably unsure about Trevor’s actions around women, and her trauma makes her uncomfortable around him.

Why is Gray blind about Trevor’s motives?

Towards the end of the third act in the movie, Trevor reveals that he had been convicted of dealing with large amounts of drugs. However, it was actually Gray’s business, and although Trevor may have been associated with it, he wasn’t fully accountable for it. Trevor had volunteered to turn himself in, saving Gray from the police.

Hence, he automatically expected Gray to have his back now that he was committing rampant crimes. Further, Gray admits that he believed Joey was romantically attracted to Trevor in her younger days and did not think Trevor was forcing himself on her. The latter may reflect the casual indifference among young adults about consent during a sexual act and doesn’t make Gray any less guilty about his sister’s experiences.

River Wild (2023) Movie Ending Explained:

What happens to Trevor in the end?

During the last leg of their journey, Karissa manages to steal one of the hitchhiker’s tools and punches a hole into their raft. The leaking air distracts Trevor, who is bound to stop nearby and orders Gray to fix the leak in the raft. Gray fights with Trevor, allowing Karissa and Joey to cut themselves loose and run toward help. However, Trevor shoots Gray in the stomach, and Joey decides to return and help Gray survive. They are being chased by Trevor, who is pelting bullets at them.

Trevor takes off towards Joey, who jumps down a cliff to swim towards an injured Gray and manages to get him into the raft. She rows the raft as fast as possible, leaving Trevor stranded at the bank. Gray directs Joey along the river, navigating its fiercer turns, while Trevor chases them now in a kayak (he presumably shoots down two kayaking men to follow the siblings).

The river flows towards a waterfall, leading to strong currents that Joey cannot navigate. This leads to their boat being capsized. Joey manages to save Gray, and they take refuge on the river bank while Trevor attacks Joey with a knife from behind her. He is about to push this knife into her throat when Gray summons up all his strength to drag Trevor along with him into the gushing waters, flowing directly into the waterfall and killing themselves. As Joey lies injured, she can spot a ranger helicopter (summoned by Karissa) overhead and must gather all her strength to get herself rescued.

Ultimately, the helicopter spots Joey, and the film closes with her being rescued by the team. One may say that Trevor did meet the end he deserved for being a murderer and a predator.

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River Wild (2023) Movie Links: IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes
River Wild (2023) Movie Cast: Adam Brody, Courtney Chen, Eve Connolly, Leighton Meester
River Wild (2023) Movie Genre: Mystery & thriller/Adventure, Runtime: 1h 31m
Where to watch River Wild
Ahendrila Goswami

Moody. Film Reader. Caramel popcorn hoarder. We can talk if you promise to not judge my film choices.