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The Ending Of Caveat Explained

Ever since the Irish horror film "Caveat" landed on Shudder, viewers have taken to social media to discuss how creepy the atmospheric thriller is. Director Damian Mc Carthy's feature-length debut tells the surreal story of Isaac (Jonathan French), an amnesiac drifter who is hired by his supposed friend Moe (Ben Caplan) to babysit Moe's troubled adult niece Olga (Leila Sykes) in a remote County Cork house. Ratcheting up the tension is the fact that Olga's father recently killed himself in the basement, and her mother has been missing for months. 

Later, Moe reveals several facts that have Isaac ready to leave. For one thing, he must wear a harness and chain that will restrain him from going into his niece's room. For another, the house is located on a secluded island accessible only by boat. When Olga appears to be in the throes of a panic attack that leaves her paralyzed, Isaac agrees to stay — which leads to a series of even more unsettling events.

The home is haunted

"Caveat" features an ambiguous ending. One thing is certain, however: The house Isaac has been invited to stay in is haunted. This is apparent from the moment he steps inside the decaying structure — there is nothing warm and friendly about this family home. There are no happy portraits on the walls, the peeling paint makes the walls look scabbed, and the decor is sparse. Like the family who owns it, the house is rotten, dark, and full of secrets.

During Isaac's first night, a nightmarish painting of a young woman with threatening eyes falls repeatedly. And then there's the demonic-looking bunny doll with haunting, human-like eyes that drums a warning seconds before doors open on their own. Both Isaac and Olga use the doll as a dowsing rod, allowing its drumming to lead them to the body of Olga's mother, who has been buried in a wall in the basement. Later, the doll seems to warn Isaac whenever danger is near, but whether the danger is from Olga, Moe, or something else entirely is not always clear. 

The haunting is confirmed in the final act when Isaac saws his way out of the space he's trapped in with the mother's corpse. Unsettled by the body's eyes, Isaac covers her head with a knitted cap. Moments later, Isaac sees that a hole has appeared in the hat, and the mother's eye is again watching him. The mother's corpse also appears to move once Moe has been locked in the basement, and Moe's horrified expression and scream implies the ghost has used the corpse to attack him. 

While the ghostly events alarm Isaac, he is never harmed. Whether the ghost warning him is the unknown man in the photo Isaac finds comforting or the spirit of Olga's mother or father is never explained. 

Isaac is the most innocent person involved in the family's deaths

What happened to Olga's mother and father is never fully explained, leaving viewers with multiple possibilities to consider. Olga's explanation to Isaac is that her father and uncle killed her mother, but she also tells him that her uncle hired Isaac to lock her father in the basement so he would be driven to commit suicide. She seemingly proves this by producing the red leather jacket Isaac left behind, which is also visible in the photograph he carries with him. 

The final act of "Caveat" reveals Isaac's part in the family's demise. Through flashbacks, we learn Moe hired Isaac to lock his brother in the basement of the house, where his claustrophobia would drive him to commit suicide. While Isaac does go to the house, it's to warn Moe's brother that Moe wants to harm him. He finds the basement door already locked and leaves. Later, Isaac's hazy memories indicate that Moe pushed him from a balcony while he was inebriated, which contributed to his memory loss. 

One possibility is that the mother's spirit locked her husband in the basement for revenge, which is why the door was locked when Isaac arrived. However, it's also possible that Olga locked her father in the basement. When Isaac and Moe first arrive at the house and find Olga in a catatonic state, Moe places a lampshade on her head in a gesture that illustrates his callous opinion of her and suggests that past abuse has occurred. This is also likely why Olga shoots her uncle and locks him in the basement in the final scenes of the movie. 

Eyes are a recurring theme

Filmmaker Damian Mc Carthy uses eyes as a recurring symbol throughout "Caveat." Not only are they a prominent feature on the demonic bunny doll, Olga's mother has a wide-eyed maniacal expression on her face in life and death. The painting that Isaac finds his first night in the house also features a figure with enormous, haunting eyes. 

Mc Carthy uses lots of close-ups featuring wide eyes to foster a feeling of dread in the viewer. Furthermore, actor Jonathan French does a great job of generally hiding Isaac's emotions ... while giving away his fear and alarm through his eyes. The eyes are, of course, believed by many to be the window to the soul, but most of the characters in "Caveat" seem to be both heartless and soulless — except for Isaac. 

Isaac's kind nature is vividly illustrated in the last scene of the movie, when he returns to rescue the chained dog he discovered earlier in the film. Olga, who is now chained and unable to follow him, watches from the doorway. The look in her eyes reveals she is far from the victim Isaac once believed her to be, and Isaac returns her gaze, understanding her true nature.

"Caveat" is now streaming exclusively on Shudder.