Written and directed by Robert Olsen and Dan Berk, ‘Significant Other’ is a new sci-fi thriller movie. Starring Maika Monroe and Jake Lacy in the central roles, this 2022 film tells the story of a couple on a remote backpacking trip, which goes haywire due to some strange and sinister circumstances. What they witness in the wilderness and on these heights reveals more of their own dynamics in a grim manner. This scary thriller uses the dramatic elements related to their relationship and keeps adding layers to what could have been just an otherwordly adventure. Let’s unravel the mysterious narrative of this new film.
Significant Other (2022) Plot Summary & Movie Synopsis:
The film begins with an eerily silent landscape that gets disturbed by a shooting star’s invasion. Through a mysterious montage, we visit different parts of the wilderness and it ends with a one-horned deer getting captured by a strange hand from behind. Cut to and we see a young couple – Ruth (Maike Monroe) and Harry (Jake Lacy) driving their car through a forest without a care in the world. We get a glimpse of them passing by the same landscape that gets visited by a shooting star in the introduction shot. They stop by a local diner to grab a bite where Ruth reads through a book about the place while Harry seems unafraid to not know all the details about it.
A kid named Jimmy (Loudon McCleery) comes by and asks them for the trash. Harry mentions that they are not done eating but he keeps standing in front of them. He seems horrified about something in particular and he goes on to ask the couple if they saw the red star come down. While it seems spooky by the way the kid asks it, Harry shrugs it off as if it is nothing serious or noteworthy. Afterward, the couple reaches the red ridge trail and parks their car. While he seems excited about the trial experience, she is nervous to go there. He mentions having gone on this particular trail a few times already. She shares that she is comfortable near the oceans but not with a backpacking trip such as this one. He uplifts her spirit which makes her agree to go on the adventurous trail with him.
On the trail, they start with a breezy conversation about their past where Harry shares some information about his childhood crush. While he seems all dandy about the trail, she showcases her interest while anxious due to something that she senses about the forest. When they reach a spot to rest, she works on building the tent while he works on preparing the meal. While eating it together, they share some cutesy moments of bonding. At midnight, she gets woken up and starts walking around with her lantern to look for the thing that spooked her. She sees the aforementioned one-horned deer in distance right after which Harry puts his hand on her shoulder which terrifies her due to the shock of what she witnessed just a moment before. He tries to calm her down. When she looks back at the same place, she can’t find the deer anymore.
The next morning, Harry takes Ruth to a high spot from where they can see a serene view of the ocean. He mentions her having changed his life the six years before when they met after which he professes his love and goes on to propose to her with a ring. Right after his grand gestures, instead of getting elated, she has a panic attack and faints down. She takes out her medication pill and takes it. After she becomes stable, she apologizes to him and tells him that it is not his fault. While he shows no anger about it, he seems pretty shaken by the fact that his grand proposal idea with a great view has gone to waste. Sometime later, she tries speaking with him about what happened, and her concerns about marriage as an institution that they had both decided not to partake in. He tries to blame it on the divorce of her parents that made her not believe in marriage. Their discussion ends on a bad note when he walks off somewhere leaving her alone.
The next morning Ruth gets out of the tent to find a note shared by Harry where he mentions that he has gone on a walk to clear his head. She tries calling Dr. Ledlow, but she gets disconnected. She calls her again which gets picked up by the doctor’s secretary. But she hangs up the phone without saying a word. She then finds the deer from before lying dead near a tree and gets stressed. That’s when Harry reaches her back (like before) and tries to comfort her. He also sees the deer that has some strange fungus-like coating on top of it, while its head is cut in two halves. Later, Harry shares a factual answer for the condition that deceased the deer. After that, they have a chat about their relationship where she mentions not messing up the special bond, they have by marrying since they don’t know how they will end up being in the future.
The next morning, after having her breakfast, Ruth walks out through the wilderness and finds a cave with some shiny objects. She follows the trail to find a strange, fluorescent blue gel-like layer down. When she pokes it with a stick, she gets spooked by something that remains unclear. He goes out to find her and when he does, she seems shaken to the core. They walk through the trail for a while. Later at night, he wakes up to find her with a knife standing behind him. She looks like she is possessed by something. The next morning, he tries to change the topic by sharing a future prospect from their regular life. She apologizes to him for being weird the night before. She says she was wrong about their marriage. She asks him to propose to her again but as if it’s the first time, at the same stop where he proposed to her earlier.
Over there, he reenacts the proposal after which, out of nowhere, she kicks him in his groin and throws him down. Then she runs back into the forest and after getting tired, collapses somewhere. Ray (Matthew Yang King) and Vivian (Dana Green) finds her there and being worried for her, decide to offer shelter. They try to get some details out of her about herself, but she doesn’t say even a single word. Later, she holds a knife and points toward them right when Harry walks from behind them. When Ray tries to protect themselves from Harry, he cuts off Ray’s fist with a blade coming out of his finger. After that, he even cuts his face in the half. Vivian goes back to have a word with Harry and gets terrified seeing Ray cut in two halves. After that, Harry also kills her.
He then goes to point his blade at Ruth, who mentions that she found the cave. We see her experience from before disclosed where she finds Harry’s face cut in half hanging on the cave in a cocoon-like structure. She realizes that this is not Harry since he is already killed but some other entity taking his shape and form. This creature then realizes Harry’s love for her which stops him from killing her. She runs away when he gets confused with these thoughts. He mentions how he shares his thoughts, fears, and feelings with Harry after which he takes her to show her an alien spaceship on the beach. He notes that he can take her away from all the worries & frustrations of the earth. He mentions many other aliens coming to the Earth to take over this planet. She grabs his blade from his pocket when he walks off and points at him. She attacks him right in his chest. But he starts following her when she starts swimming in the ocean. While he tries to convince her to go according to his plan, within a few moments, a shark attacks him.
Significant Other (2022) Movie Review: A brooding, unpredictable & allegorical thriller
Who do we consider to be our significant other? Is it just the person we end up spending time with? Is it a great first date? Is it the dependence on long-term companionship? And even if we find a person like this, what are our ideas about spending life with them? This new sci-fi thriller written and directed by Robert Olsen and Dan Berk does not seem to address that on the surface. We witness a science fiction narrative where the central couple’s life is invaded by strange creatures. The characters seek another world to alleviate their pains and work on their co-dependence.
The more you ruminate over the film’s character dynamics, the more you find it to be an allegorical thriller speaking about the issues from Harry & Ruth’s relationship. Who are these different versions of them if not the projections of their personalities that mirror either who they wish to be or who they really are? The element of mystery is undoubtedly consistent throughout the film’s duration which follows a neatly written screenplay with enough foreshadowing to tie its narrative threads. The clues are neatly hidden in visual cues along with smartly written dialogues that showcase a myriad of feelings associated with its characters.
The slow and gradual build-up is intensely gratifying and enhances the thrilling element of the experience. What takes Significant Other to another level is an excellent blend of hard-to-look-away-from cinematography by Matt Mitchell paired with its eerie music score by Oliver Coates. The editing by David Kashevaroff places the pieces of the narrative puzzle in such an intriguing manner that you are consistently invested in the stakes, while also being on your toes with its unraveling of truth (or clarity on truth) through a series of twists and turns.
Besides that, it is a well-performed drama that features excellent acting by both the leads – Maika Monroe and Jake Lacy. Within 90 minutes of span, the amount of intrigue Significant Other builds being just as intense as introspection on relationships – is more than commendable. The great part about is how it makes you think about the central conflict despite the strange directions its narrative takes. The film succeeds in finding a great balance between these two aspects to create a riveting, atmospheric thriller.
Significant Other (2022) Ending Explained:
Does Ruth manage to escape the hellish nightmare?
Ruth runs away into the forest after a shark’s attack on Harry to save herself, assuming he died. But we see his foot regenerating from the bite when he drops the shark’s head right next to him on the beach. She goes back to their tent and grabs some food from the backpacks. She sees Ray’s fist lying on the ground nearby. She glances over badges mentioning different trails around the world and gets emotional. After that, suddenly she gets unconscious because the alien Harry grabs her by his reptile-like long arm. He mentions that he wants to save her, just as per her wishes. Right after that, she drops down unconscious.
When she wakes up, she finds herself in the same cave where she found the blue gel-like layer. But now, she is enveloped in a cocoon with defaced Harry right next to her on the cave’s wall. The alien Harry starts speaking with her about his idea of love while every next minute, his face looks weirder and weirder to the point he becomes unrecognizable. His voice also starts changing to the point where it almost sounds like a female voice. The very next moment when he mentions lovers wanting to be one, we see him turn into Ruth. This alien Ruth tells the real one how she is going to relive her pain and be the version she always wished to see herself as.
The real Ruth then shares how the pain is a part of her, which she can’t herself from. She makes the alien introspect her intentions to the point that she breaks down. She finally escapes her cocoon and calms another version’s anger. When she lies down in defeat, Ruth defaces her by hitting a nearby rock. She escapes the cave and runs away driving her car. She starts the radio that plays a music track. It gets abruptly cut soon after and another Ruth speaks with her about how she can’t escape this version of herself. She turns the radio off to calm these voices. However, while she travels back to her home, several red stars start falling down from the sky. No matter how badly you try to escape your worst fears, they keep following you, even in a fictional world such as this.