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The Ending Of Hostile Explained

"Hostile" took a concept that is often told in an epic fashion but scaled it down to a far more intimate level. The film is shown from the perspective of the heroine, Juliette (Brittany Ashworth), as she travels across a perpetually desiccated landscape on what may seem like a suicidal mission. However, she acts with skill and purpose to gather supplies for her growing community of survivors and is therefore one of the most important members of the tiny post-apocalyptic society.

To help keep her motivated, Juliette keeps her most prized possession from her past with her at all times, which is a photo of her with the man who meant more to her than anything else in life. When the photo accidentally flies out the window of her truck, she tries to retrieve it in a panic and crashes the vehicle.

From that point, writer and director Mathieu Turi ("Meander") almost splits the film into two genres: Flashbacks of the past show the tragic romance of Juliette and her husband Jack (Grégory Fitoussi), while the present features the protagonist's struggle for survival in a world filled with mutated zombies and ruthless scavengers. But as more of Juliette's past is gradually revealed, it eventually becomes clear that her harrowing situation is not all that it seems. Here is a deeper dive into the details of this tragic romance, along with the subtle hints given to viewers to figure out the twist at the end.

The film is strongly influenced by I Am Legend and The Last of Us

"Hostile" has a unique take, especially in the finale, but at its core, the premise has been done before and this previous work served as a major inspiration for the film. In an interview with Vampire Squid, writer and director Mathieu Turi explained, "My two inspirations for 'Hostile' are the novel by Richard Matheson, 'I Am Legend,' and the video game 'The Last of Us.' Both are focused on the characters and their motivations to continue to live. They have to find a reason to survive in this new world. And also, it reminds us what we are by nature: a violent animal."

Turi loves the video game but is an even greater fan of the Matheson horror, which he considered a masterpiece and is his all-time favorite novel. On top of the literary and video game classics, Turi told My Bloody Reviews that the movie also contains elements of his previous work, the short films "Sons of Chaos" and "Broken." The filmmaker combined these passions and reforged a new, feature-length tale all his own.

Being different was the goal of the filmmaker

Mathieu Turi would be the first to admit that his film "Hostile" incorporates aspects of other stories he loves, but he greatly respects these works and so he never had the intention of wanting to improve them. Instead, his main motivation has been to take elements that inspire him and craft something new and clearly distinct. The director told Screen Anarchy, "For me, it's not about doing something better, it's about doing something different."

It turned out that the approach was a success in convincing producer Xavier Gens to join the project. Gens especially liked the unique finale to the tale, as Turi explained, "Xavier was always on board with the ending. He said it was the ending that made him want to do it because it was different." It is safe to say that the filmmakers are right because there are few post-apocalyptic sagas that are as epic in the level of tragedy, yet considerably intimate as well, with very little focus on or explanation for the chaos in the wider world.

Mathieu Turi finalized the ending while working on the flashbacks

For "Hostile," Mathieu Turi wanted to make a very human-driven story set amidst the aftermath of armageddon, so fleshing out the flashback sequences was a huge part of writing the script. As Turi was building the detailed backstory of the heroine, Juliette, and her lover, Jack, the writer's mind randomly generated the perfect ending for the tragic romance that he wanted to tell.

Turi explained his process and the key scriptwriting moment to Screen Anarchy when he said, "After the first pass at the flashbacks I was like, 'Okay, so what am I trying to tell with these flashbacks?' I didn't want to do a movie where flashbacks explain what happened to the world. So, what do I want to tell? Backstory, but why? What's the justification? Then one night I finally got the idea, and I knew it was risky."

Well aware that the finale would be controversial, Turi was not surprised when he was told by viewers that they enjoyed the film up until the end. Some may find the tragedy too depressing, while others may feel that the concept of fate reuniting the lovers is too cliché. Yet, regardless of the criticism, the director was not fazed by the negative comments.

The filmmaker approached Javier Botet before finishing the script

Before Mathieu Turi had finalized many parts of the story for "Hostile," he was certain that most of the tension would come from the terrifying creature that is stalking the protagonist. The director was also a huge fan of the actor, Javier Botet, so Turi reached out to him quite early to secure him for the role. He told iHorror, "I believe it was 'Mama' where I saw him, and I knew that he was perfect to play the creature I was creating. So, I sent him an email with the story attached. I said to him that I had no money, no producers, no finished script, and I had no idea how long it would be before we started but asked him to please consider doing it."

Turi's initiative paid off as Botet promised to take on the part of the monstrous reaper. Even after the actor had made appearances in major Hollywood movies like "Alien: Covenant," "IT," and "Insidious: The Last Key" over the following years, that did not stop him from fulfilling his promise once production on "Hostile" began.

The monster was done with only practical effects

Computer-generated effects have become so popular in movies that practical methods are often extremely underrated, and thus, overlooked. On the other hand, a film like "Hostile" proves that the old-school way of doing things has only gotten better when combined with modern technology. When discussing the use of CGI for the horror aspects to Screen Anarchy, Mathieu Turi replied, "It's all practical. The only CGI we had was some adjustment on the makeup."

Much of the impressive visuals were a result of Javier Botet's amazing talent as an actor in his portrayal of the horrifying reaper. The director hired him for that very reason, as he explained to My Bloody Reviews: "He has an incredible body, and he uses it like magic. When you see him working, it's just insane. The movements he performs, the way his thin body moves. He's a piece of art."

To Turi, Botet's skill made animators unnecessary for the special effects. Due to his incredible performance, the filmmaker told iHorror, "You almost think you're seeing CGI, but everything is absolutely real."

Brittany Ashworth helped create Juliette

While Mathieu Turi firmly established the framework for the story of "Hostile," the filmmaker worked closely with the lead star, Brittany Ashworth, to fully complete the script. With her input, the dialogue was altered and actions were added in order to develop the character of Juliette even further. In the end, Ashworth's contributions not only helped shape the protagonist, but also the key scenes that build up to the dramatic conclusion.

Turi explained his approach and the reasons for it to My Blood Reviews as he said, "I'm a very collaborative director with my actors, and I want them to dig into the characters, try stuff, fail sometimes, but always try to go further. And they did, every time. Juliette's backstory has been completed by Brittany. I gave her some intentions, but asked her to find a personal story, why she came to New York and what happened in the first years of her post-apocalyptic life. We talked a lot about it, very detailed stuff that only her and I know."

The director used the same process with Ashworth's co-star, Grégory Fitoussi. The top priority of this collaboration was to maintain the balance of keeping the character of Jack distinctly French, but not in a way where it was overdone.

Mathieu Turi left clues throughout the film

Throughout "Hostile," Mathieu Turi added little hints that foreshadow later events that take place in the film but might be hard for viewers to catch their first time watching the movie. One of the first major examples of this was in the flashback scene when the lovers, Juliette and Jack, met at his art gallery. As Jack explains the artistic style of Francis Bacon, the artwork he shows her looks eerily similar to the creature he mutates into. His advice to Juliette on appreciating Bacon's painting by going beyond the ugliness has all new meaning once the couple tragically reunites in the end.

The use of the filmmaking method comes from Turi's admiration for the work of his predecessor, M. Night Shyamalan. In the interview with iHorror, the director explained, "I'm a big fan of his movies. If you watch 'The Sixth Sense,' he tells you everything you need to know to understand what is happening throughout the film, but you become so involved in the story that you don't see them the first time through. He doesn't cheat his audience. He gives you everything, and that's the kind of filmmaker I want to be."

Great tragedy in life made Juliette the ultimate survivor

"Hostile" takes place in a depressing wasteland after cataclysmic events destroyed modern civilization, beginning with a chemical terrorist attack in New York City. But even before this harrowing existence, Juliette endures a series of heartbreaking moments seen in flashbacks, such as living through severe drug addiction, abuse, and the stillbirth of her child. Then, just at the onset of the world-ending apocalypse, the heroine loses her soulmate, Jack.

Yet, Juliette's brutal life experiences only strengthened her resolve for survival and made her into a formidable badass. The protagonist manages to stay alive for years after the destruction and is trusted by her community of survivors to go on scavenging missions all on her own. She also proves on-screen how capable she is by slaying one of the horrifying reapers in confined close combat within a trailer. It was only the grievous injury to her leg that nearly put her out of commission, but even at that low point, Juliette refuses to give up and take her own life with her pistol.

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ by dialing 988 or by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

Jack touches Juliette's face to reveal himself

In one of the most heartwarming flashbacks of "Hostile," Juliette and Jack have married and are moving into a new home together. It is a great moment for the protagonist, but her past experiences make it hard for her to accept happiness without inducing massive anxiety. To help put Juliette at ease, Jack explains that his mother used to gently touch his face with her fingertips closed up to the tip of his nose, which always made him smile. He affectionately does the same to Juliette and she also cannot help but smile.

Years later in the climax of the film, Juliette finally defeats the reaper that has been stalking her throughout the night and then passes out from her wound and extreme exhaustion. When she comes to, the creature is still alive and slowly crawls on top of her. But just as the heroine anticipates that it will try to make her his next meal, the creature unexpectedly touches her face in the same gentle way that Jack used to. 

It is at that moment that she is both relieved and deeply saddened to discover that her lover has mutated into the reaper on top of her, most likely due to the chemical gas he was exposed to. He then may never have intended to harm her once he realized who she was. Deformed beyond recognition and unable to speak from the severe damage to his throat, the gesture was the one way that Jack could prove his identity.

The reaper protected her from the cannibal bandit

Once it is revealed in "Hostile" that the reaper harassing Juliette is actually Jack, the revelation drastically changes the perception of what occurs throughout the night. Instead of being afraid for her life and that the creature would also crush her skill if given the chance, Jack was most likely protecting her from the knife-wielding raider by brutally murdering him. The attack not only scared off the raider's companion, but Jack's presence probably would have deterred other scavengers from taking advantage of Juliette's vulnerable position.

While Jack certainly saved her from human attackers, he also probably kept other reapers at bay as well. There was no way for Juliette to know at the time, but the heroine was in a much safer position than she thought she was and likely would have survived to be rescued if that was what she wanted.

Juliette failed to keep her promise

In one of the final flashbacks in "Hostile," Juliette is devastated to find Jack in terrible condition after just barely surviving the chemical gas unleashed by terrorists in New York City. The attack severely damaged his vocal chords, leaving him mute. Juliette's bedridden husband uses his remaining strength to write out that he loves her and to get her to promise him that she will never give up.

For years, Juliette keeps her promise to Jack and manages to stay alive in the nightmarish environment following the end of civilization. Even after she had her bone gruesomely protruding out of her leg in an overturned truck with a monster stalking her, Juliette still fought to survive.

It was only when the two wounded lovers embraced for the last time that she ended both of their lives because their love was so great that neither one wanted to live without the other. In the art gallery where the couple first met in the film, Juliette admits she is not religious, nor does she believe in fate, unlike Jack. However, the way they reunited may have changed her perspective to believe that if they could not be together in this life, their deep feelings for each other would keep their souls joined as they journeyed into the afterlife.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ by dialing 988 or by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

Filming the ending was the best moment on set

Although deeply sad, the ending of "Hostile" is also a beautiful moment when Juliette and Jack embrace as the sun rises off in the distance. Filming the tragic scene was special on set as well and Mathieu Turi anticipated that it would be, but the experience went beyond his expectations. The director told My Bloody Reviews, "It's the first scene that came to my mind before writing the script, and without spoiling it, it was also the best moment on set. It was just magical — the natural light at that exact time." 

In one of those rare moments while shooting when everything works out perfectly, Turi was not the only one left in awe. The filmmaker continued, "The team was speechless, and in my mind, I knew it worked. Often, as a director, you have to wait to be in the editing room to be [one] hundred percent sure a scene works, but for that one, I knew on set."