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The Ending Of The Old Ways Explained

From the opening scene of "The Old Ways," you know you're in for a messed-up journey. 

The film begins with an exorcism, as a mother looks lovingly toward her child. Of course, this is a horror movie, so nothing is as it seems. The mother's facial expression becomes twisted, and she lets out a demonic scream, grasping at the little girl and clawing her arm in the process. It's a terrifying moment that sets the tone for the rest of the film, and if you thought that was scary, you haven't seen anything yet.

The rest of the movie follows Cristina (Brigitte Kali Canales), a reporter originally from Veracruz but lived in the United States for years. She returns to her home city to write an article on the native culture, but times have changed. The people begin to suspect that she's under demonic possession, too, and the truly terrifying part is ... she might be.

What's real, and what's a delusion? A lot of questions crop up as you watch "The Old Ways," and it may leave you scratching your head by the time the finale rolls around. Here's "The Old Ways" ending explained.

Cristina's demon is gone for good

While Cristina initially doubts there's a demon inside her, she soon learns how mistaken she was. But she appears to do better once the exorcism is successful ... until it's not. Earlier in the film, the demon transferred to the body of Miranda (Andrea Cortés), forcing Cristina to perform an exorcism on her. Once the spirit's out, she pulls out the heart, and the entity is no more. 

However, while there's very much a literal demon for her to overcome, Cristina has her share of metaphorical demons she conquers, as well. First and foremost, she left her family in Mexico, and her journalism trip was the first time she had been back. Cristina and Miranda have conversations about the importance of family throughout the film, and by the end, Cristina has her cousin's back by drawing the demon out of her. She could've left to return to Los Angeles but chose not to.

"The Old Ways" also deals heavily with drug addiction. Cristina is an addict, which is one more demon for her to battle. But more on that later ...

Everyone has their demons

The demon may be gone, but that's not the only ending you'll find in "The Old Ways." After Cristina and Miranda have taken care of Postehki, it's clear that's not the end of their troubles. Earlier in the film, Cristina was able to call her boss, Carson (AJ Bowen), to tell him of her predicament. As we learn, he actually traveled to Mexico to rescue her, but something's not right. Now that Cristina is a bruja (a witch, basically), she can see other people's inner demons, and when she looks into Carson's eyes, she sees a monster inside him. 

Of course, he doesn't believe in the demon, similar to how Cristina didn't believe at the beginning of the film, but we think he'll change his mind in no time. Ample gore and body horror are critical components of the exorcism process, and those are enough to make a believer out of anyone.

Cristina promises him, "We're not good at this, but we're gonna get better." This is followed by her asking Miranda to bring her the goat milk, a callback to one of the first scenes in the film. It looks like Cristina will stick around Veracruz for a bit longer. Now that the previous bruja, Luz (Julia Vera), is dead, the town will need someone else to keep the demons at bay.

A compelling allegory for addiction

While Cristina is literally a drug addict in the film, the story as a whole tackles the struggles of addicts in our society. This begins with Cristina's refusal to accept she has a problem (read: a demon) in the first place. Addicts can only get better when they admit they have a problem and actively desire to rectify it. Complicating the plot further is the cultural divide between Cristina and the people performing her exorcisms. Luz can barely understand her, and the cultural divide emphasizes the lack of communication that often exists between addicts and those trying to help them. 

Part of the recovery for Cristina involves the willingness to accept her past. She underwent immense trauma watching her mother experience demonic possession. As a result, she refuses to talk at all about her history, as evidenced in an early scene where Carson mentions how it's weird she would want the Veracruz assignment when she's never spoken to him about the fact she was born there. Part of the addiction recovery process involves being honest about what caused the addiction in the first place. Addicts have trauma they try to mask with drugs, and similarly, Cristina must look into the past to confront her demon once and for all.