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The Ending Of 2023's Inside Explained

"Inside," the latest film from director Vasilis Katsoupis, sees an art thief's simple heist take a horrific turn. The film follows seasoned burglar Nemo (Willem Dafoe) as he attempts to steal art from a wealthy man's (Gene Bervoets) luxurious penthouse. Unfortunately, after the penthouse's security system malfunctions, all the exits lock and the temperature system fluctuates between boiling hot and frigid cold. Nemo becomes trapped in a slow-growing nightmare and must use the resources around him to find an escape before his sanity drains completely.

Dafoe is known for tapping into a wild and crazed side of himself, and that's exactly what he brings to "Inside." As Nemo spends more time in his luxurious hell, it's clear that his grip on reality is slipping and he is forced to take some drastic measures to survive. 

"Inside" not only shocks and horrifies viewers through Dafoe's performance and what he's forced to endure — it also hooks them through its unique survival situation. There's something captivating about watching Nemo attempt to use what's around him to stay alive. However, the film can lose viewers a bit when it drifts into Nemo's distorted psyche and the more dreamlike nature of his horrors. With that in mind, let's delve into everything that happens throughout "Inside" — especially its climatic final moments. 

A bad situation

While there are worse places to be trapped than in a luxurious penthouse, Nemo's situation is still pretty awful since the owner doesn't really take care of this place. The food that Nemo finds is incredibly minimal and what he does find is generally covered with mold. Seriously, the mold problem is so bad that he comes across oranges that are as hard as a rock. He even tries to break the windows with them, but to no avail. Eventually, he's able to find a pantry with some food, but with no running gas or water, he's forced to use unconventional ways of cooking — which doesn't result in the tastiest meals. 

With no running water, Nemo also can't use conventional toilets and is forced to make his own latrine, which surely makes the place smell awful. The windows also seem unbreakable since Nemo makes multiple attempts at breaking them but is unable to even cause a crack. Worst of all, though, is that the temperature system is slowly rising and decreasing in the penthouse. This means that Nemo is forced to deal with unbearably hot and cold temperatures, which really starts to weigh on him as time goes on. 

Although Nemo seems to be surrounded by a sense of luxury and wealth that most would enjoy, it ultimately becomes a nightmare for him and a surprisingly tough survival situation. 

No help out there

Even though Nemo arrives at the penthouse with two cohorts, they quickly abandon him when things turn sideways. Number 2 (voiced by Vincent Eaton) quickly disappears after the alarm is raised, and Number 3 (voiced by Andrew Blumenthal) tells Nemo that he is on his own. Nemo tries to contact them until his radio dies, but he never receives a response. There are times when he can hear a helicopter flying by and likely hopes that it's Number 2 trying to save him, but that never happens. 

For the most part, Nemo is totally alone in this situation and only has a few moments where he could possibly get help. Nemo slowly becomes obsessed with some of the people he sees on a security feed for the building — especially a housekeeper named Jasmine (Eliza Stuyck). Any time she comes just outside the front door, Nemo tries his best to cause a big enough commotion to get her attention. Unfortunately, she's always listening to music and the door is so thick that she can never hear him. 

In the end, there simply isn't much help out there for Nemo and he's forced to rely on his own skills to survive. 

Nemo's survival

While Nemo might come off as just a simple art thief, he's actually got some survival skills that are pretty impressive. Using some bowls and the plants' sprinkler system, Nemo is able to create a consistent water source for himself. He's smartly able to remove the mold off of some of the food and find new ways to cook food without running water or gas. It doesn't taste great, but if it keeps him alive then Nemo will do whatever it takes. 

As for escape plans, Nemo continually works on one idea and it's fascinating to watch. He utilizes all the furniture to build a tower so that he can reach a skylight to try and remove one of the glass panels. It's pretty funny how Nemo uses glass shards to make goggles and turns wooden chair legs into wrenches, but it shows how resourceful and smart he can be as a survivalist. 

Nemo's determination to live is what drives the entire film and he shows some very impressive skills that help him survive and even thrive in this bizarre survival setting. 

The room behind the walls

While Nemo is searching through different parts of the penthouse, he eventually finds a hidden room behind a coat cabinet that leads to a room behind the walls. The area is incredibly narrow and has a strange-colored light illuminating the entire hallway. As Nemo first goes into it, he spots the self-portrait painting he struggled to find when he was stealing the art and suddenly suffers a headache while looking at it. After he's able to compose himself, he goes deeper into the area and finds another room with the self-portrait and something super creepy. 

Nemo finds the body of the owner sprawled out like a corpse in a morgue. However, it's not the actual owner, it's just a rubber body that's likely been placed there as an art piece or simply to freak out intruders. Nemo isn't phased much by the fake body and takes the self-portrait back with him into the rest of the penthouse. 

Given how valuable the self-portrait is said to be, it makes sense that Nemo couldn't find it when he first searched the penthouse, but at least if he's able to escape he'll have the painting with him. Plus, Nemo also finds a book about heaven and hell that slowly starts to seep into his mind — something that plays a big role in some of the delusions he has later in the film. 

Dreams and hallucinations

As Nemo's situation becomes more hopeless and he starts to suffer from health problems due to his lack of nutrition, he begins experiencing dangerous dreams and hallucinations. After falling asleep one night, Nemo has a dream that he's in one of the owner's gallery shows. There's a sense of frustration that can be felt within Nemo in this setting and he abruptly leaves while the owner is talking to the guests. 

Nemo also has some more frightening moments where he fantasizes that Jasmine has come into the penthouse and starts having a very sensual interaction with him. It's a moment where Nemo is clearly drained mentally and his loneliness is getting to him. 

The most horrifying fantasy, though, comes when Nemo is dealing with some of the tooth decay he's developed from his poor nutrition and he suddenly sees the owner behind him. His head then slams into the counter and he awakes to find that he's still the only one there. Nemo's mind has clearly started to slip from reality and it's not too long until his weakened mental state mixes with his current readings about heaven and hell, which makes him begin to display some eerie behavior. 

A great fall

Nemo's big plan to try and escape through a skylight hits a big snag when something absolutely gut-wrenching happens to him while on top of the structure he built. As Nemo starts to unscrew some of the bolts holding the glass panel up, he slips and tumbles all the way down the structure. Luckily, the structure doesn't collapse as he falls, but Nemo suffers a grave injury that could stop his escape plans altogether. Nemo's leg has a very deep cut on it and he's suffered a bad fracture or possibly even a broken bone. 

Frankly, this plan already suffered quite a few setbacks. Nemo exhausts a lot of energy putting this structure together and after initially getting past the easily broken outer frame, he comes across metal bolts that he can't get off. This entire plan has already been a big pain for Nemo; now that he's broken his leg, all hope is lost. 

Nemo's great fall might as well also be the start of his massive descent into madness since it's where the film starts to see him become truly unhinged. 

The shrine

There's a moment when Nemo sees a light reflection on a wall and becomes transfixed by it. He starts to draw some disturbing abstract imagery around it and creates a shrine to it using some of the things he's come across. From the rock-hard oranges to the valuable self-portrait, the shrine is almost like a culmination of everything that Nemo has had to deal with in his journey. Before you know it, Nemo is sitting in front of the shrine dressed in some strange clothes praying to it. 

As Nemo has become obsessed with texts that talk about heaven and hell, it's tough to say if he believes there's some type of entity that will help him move out of this nightmare or if he's totally lost it at this point. However, Nemo has clearly hit rock bottom and his delusions about death are unnerving to see. Still, he's not completely broken yet. While his mind is waning by the minute, he comes up with one last attempt to try and escape. 

One last attempt

Nemo is nearly at his breaking point when he suddenly finds one last thing that could alert others. Upon looking up at the ceiling in one of the rooms, Nemo notices a smoke alarm and thinks of a way to set it off. By using shredded pieces of paper from books scattered around the penthouse and reflecting the light onto them, Nemo is able to create fire. He then uses a torch to take the fire and put it next to the smoke alarm. 

The fire instantly sets off the alarm and then the sprinkler system that extinguishes the flames. Unfortunately, no one comes to save him. It's actually stunning how isolated this penthouse is and no one even calls the fire department to help Nemo. It's a mind-blowing moment that solidifies how hopeless Nemo's situation is and, oddly enough, the sprinkler system only makes things worse. 

Drowning in sorrow

Nemo's plan to alert people through the fire alarm fails, and you would think that would be enough of a problem for him. Sadly, it gets worse as the sprinkler system starts to flood the place. The torrential downpour even cuts Nemo off from the things that helped him stay sane, as the security feed that lets Nemo see the rest of the building is shut off after the TV gets too wet. The video room screening some kind of movie on repeat is shut off as well. Also, Nemo is left completely soaking wet and all the materials he could use for escape suffer severe water damage. 

It's honestly surprising that Nemo's escape structure stays intact because the water is beating down on everything. There's a shot where Nemo is sitting defeated during this horrific indoor storm and it's a perfect culmination of his feelings at the moment. He once again feels terribly hopeless about things and is now literally drowning in his sorrows. The sprinkler system eventually stops, but the entire sequence feels like a dagger to the heart. 

Nemo's final message

Sometime later, Nemo has really hit his breaking point but finds some clarity. He decides that before making one last attempt to get the skylight off, he's going to leave the owner a message. The narration from the opening of Nemo talking about his love of art and what he would save from a fire replays over a scene of him writing a message on the wall. However, this time it leads into his new message to the owner. He apologizes to the owner for destroying his home and attempting to steal from him. However, he also mentions that he saved three pieces of art — likely the three he was going to steal. 

More importantly, Nemo mentions that destroying the penthouse was possibly a good thing since — as Nemo explains — there is no creation without destruction. Perhaps he's talking about himself at this moment since he now has a new perspective on things from this journey of survival, or perhaps it's an artistic jab at the owner for not taking care of this place whatsoever and collecting art without much meaning behind it. Either way, these final words from Nemo act as a fitting goodbye to this place before he tries to ascend through the skylight. 

Nemo's fate

Nemo's mind is made up on escaping, so he heads up his structure to the skylight and begins to pry off the glass panel. Eventually, he's able to get it off and we see it crash down to the ground. However, Nemo's fate is left kind of a mystery since we never actually see him climb up the skylight and escape. Rather, the final shot of the film shows the empty room with the skylight radiating a harmonious light into the room. This means that there are multiple ways to view this ending. 

The first is the most simple — Nemo escapes out of the skylight and either gets rescued or suffers the same fate as the pigeon did outside the window. The other is that maybe this ending is meant to represent his death and ascension to a higher power. Frankly, it seemed like Nemo was initially going up there just to put himself out of his misery, so a more tragic ending isn't too far-fetched. 

However, it's most likely that Nemo does escape since the panel crashes to the ground and Nemo would definitely take the opportunity to escape. While we don't actually see it, Nemo seemingly escapes this nightmare and leaves with new perspectives he couldn't have expected to gain walking in. 

Could there be a sequel?

So will there be a sequel? Since there is no sequel currently announced for "Inside" and the ending is pretty conclusive, it's safe to say that there will be no sequel for "Inside." However, that doesn't mean there couldn't be one! While Nemo's story might be closed and shut, someone else could easily fall into the same situation and go through their own horrifying journey of survival. 

Frankly, it would be pretty cool to see "Inside" become an anthology film series focused on people getting stuck in unique survival situations and having their physical and mental will be tested. It could easily act as a great spotlight series for actors with distinctive talents like Dafoe. "Inside" could have the potential for more, but with the film's small scale and indie audience, "Inside" is likely a one-and-done experience — unless the film becomes a cult hit.