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The Ending Of The 8th Night Explained

In the South Korean horror film "The 8th Night" the stakes couldn't be higher. Thousands of years ago, Buddha vanquished a demon that threatened humanity by removing each of its eyes — one black and one red — and containing them in sacred caskets on opposite ends of the world. So long as the two demonic eyes never reunite, the demon's evil will be contained. Unfortunately for humanity, the red eye has been awakened by an archaeologist named Professor Kim Joon-cheol (Choi Jin-ho).

Thankfully, there are people working to stop it. Cheong-seok (Nam Da-reum) is a young, sheltered monk who lives at the monastery where the black eye is being contained. When the senior monk charged with guarding the black eye senses that the red eye has been released, he sends Cheong-seok into the world to track down a monk who left the order, Park Jin-soo (Lee Sung-min). Jin-soo understands the importance of his mission and knows exactly what he must do.

In order to reunite with the black eye, the red eye will inhabit a series of human hosts until it reaches the sacred casket that protects its demonic other half. The final host will be a virgin shaman and to prevent the cataclysmic union of the two eyes, Jin-soo must kill the shaman to break this evil chain. If he fails to do so before the eighth night of the red eye's journey, humanity will be plunged into unending suffering.

At the same time, Detective Kim Ho-tae (Park Hae-joon) and his protégé Dong-jin (Kim Dong-young) are unknowingly following the red eye's trail of human destruction. When their paths collide with Jin-soo, Ho-tae believes him to be the killer he's after. Will he stop the monk from fulfilling his duty, or join him in his quest to save humanity?

Here is the ending to "The 8th Night" explained.

Ae-ran is not who she appears to be

Early in the film, Cheong-seok encounters a beautiful young woman named Ae-ran (Kim Yoo-jung) who he believes to be the virgin shaman Jin-soo is seeking out. But in the film's twist-filled final act, we learn that Ae-ran is far from the person Cheong-seok believes her to be.

When Ho-tae tracks down the actual virgin shaman, an older disheveled woman, we learn the shocking truth about Ae-ran. As a young girl, she was adopted by Professor Kim and used as a sacrifice to help awaken the red eye. The Ae-ran who has been appearing to Cheong-seok is a ghost under the control of the demon and has been guiding him to the resting place of the black eye to help fulfill the prophecy (more on that in a moment).

The actual virgin shaman also reveals a few other shocking details of Professor Kim's behind-the-scenes work to awaken the demon. Throughout the film, several of the people who get possessed by the red eye mention being involved in a specific Buddhist meditation group. The virgin shaman confirms that this group was organized by Professor Kim.

One of the women from this group mentions early in the film that when she went to the meeting, she had her blood drawn, believing that she was receiving a free medical treatment. However, once we learn that Professor Kim was behind the group, it becomes clear that he was taking blood from each member to mark them so that the red eye would be able to find and use them as steps on its journey to reuniting with the black eye. At the beginning of the movie, Professor Kim pours several vials of blood over the red eye, which we can assume were taken from each of the group members.

Ultimately, most of the characters were doomed from the start

The virgin shaman has another revelation. Prior to Ho-tae's visit, Dong-jin went to the shaman to have a protective talisman made, and when he did, the shaman realized he was marked for death. She explains to Ho-tae that because she and Dong-jin have the same astrological chart, that Dong-jin took her place as one of the human steps on the red eye's path to ushering in hell on earth. Prior to that scene, we saw Dong-jin be possessed by the red eye, and considering the virgin shaman was meant to be the last step, that means the red eye has almost completed its horrible journey.

That's not all. Earlier in the movie, we learn that Ho-tae once rescued Dong-jin from drowning during a suicide attempt. Each of the members of Professor Kim's meditation group also had a history of suicidal thoughts or actions, implying that this is a quality that may be especially conducive to being possessed by the red eye.

"Because of you, he couldn't die when he was supposed to die," the virgin shaman explains to Ho-tae. Here, she seems to be saying that in saving his friend's life, Ho-tae also doomed him to being used by the demon.

By the film's climactic scenes, we've come to learn that almost none of the characters ended up in the situation they were in by accident. They were either marked for possession without their knowledge or manipulated by supernatural forces. That goes double for Jin-soo and Cheong-seok who, we come to learn, have a deeper connection.

Jin-soo must confront his past

In the film's finale, Ae-ran, acting as a tool for the red eye, has lured Cheong-seok and Jin-soo to the temple where the black eye was originally interred. Now that it has possessed Dong-jin, the only thing the red eye needs to do to complete its mission is to possess the sacred protector of the black eye. Jin-soo believes these duties have fallen onto him, so he sets out to create a spiritual trap for the demon by using himself as bait.

However, when the possessed Dong-jin arrives, the demon reveals that because Jin-soo was never formally ordained as a monk (one of the reasons he left the order), he's not the black eye's protector. That task falls on Cheong-seok. The demon possesses the younger monk and traps Jin-soo against a tree. As the apocalypse begins to ramp up, the demon gives Jin-soo the opportunity to revel in vengeance. Earlier in the movie, we learned that Jin-soo's family was killed by a drunk driver who later killed herself, leaving behind her child. That child, it's implied, grew up to be none other than Cheong-seok.

Appearing in the form of the child, the demon tells Jin-soo to kill it and satisfy his rage. Instead, Jin-soo uses the blood from his injuries to draw a magical incantation on the child's face. This throws the demon off. It leaps from Cheong-seok's body into Jin-soo's body and when it does, Cheong-seok is able to kill it with an enchanted ax and put an end to the forthcoming apocalypse.

In the end, the earth is spared annihilation and the red eye is returned to its original resting place. While the stakes of "The 8th Night" are global in scale, in the end, it's the intimate personal struggles of the characters that really mattered.

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