What happens at the end of Netflix's Secret Obsession, and what does it mean? Centered on an idyllic marriage turned claustrophobic nightmare, director Peter Sullivan's Secret Obsession exposes ideas of toxic masculinity and male entitlement in a story of desire gone haywire.
When Jennifer, played by Brenda Song, wakes up in hospital after a heinous attack from an unknown culprit with no memory, she's released into the care of her loving husband, Ryan, played by Mike Vogel. All seems well at first, until Jennifer starts noticing the things Ryan is telling her about their past don't quite add up, leading to the reveal that Ryan was actually her attacker all along, fueled by jealous rage.
The resulting race against time is tightly wound as Ryan's body-count slowly rises and Jennifer's ability to survive diminishes. Thankfully the detective on the case of her incident is hot on the trail, leading to a deadly three-way confrontation for survival. Here's what Secret Obsession's ending really means.
What Happens At The End Of Secret Obsession
In the final act of Secret Obsession, Ryan has Jennifer tied up in her room while he goes to get concrete to further cover up the corpses buried in his yard. Jennifer figured out that he murdered her husband and her parents in a bid to replace them and become her one and only, and has bought herself some time by playing to his ego.
Detective Frank Page (Dennis Haysbert) manages to find his way to the remote country house where Ryan is holding Jennifer, following clues straight to Ryan's doorstep. Jennifer is almost saved before Page is knocked out by Ryan and locked in a freezer in the garage. Jennifer realizes she'll have to make a break for it herself, and manages to dupe Ryan and lock him in their bedroom before escaping into the nearby woods.
She and her captor play a game of cat-and-mouse, through the nearby forest until Det. Page shows up. Ryan, having taken Page's gun, holds up the weapon, and a fight ensues with the two men grappling on the ground. Jennifer picks up the firearm and as Ryan lunges towards her shoots him twice, ending the ordeal once and for all. An epilogue to Secret Obsession shows she and Page moving on with their lives, supporting each other through the intense grief of losing loved ones to unfair circumstances.
What Happened During Jennifer's Attack In Secret Obsession
As Jennifer regains her memory in Secret Obsession, the audience gradually comes to understand exactly what went on the night she was assaulted. Secret Obsession's cold open shows her being remorselessly hunted by a knife-wielding psychopath like an early victim in a slasher flick. She's too slippery for her assailant, though, and is instead knocked over and left with bad head trauma, leading to the memory loss that frames her perspective.
Leading up to her night from hell, Jennifer had been staying with her parents in the run-up to getting married to her co-worker Russell Williams (Daniel Booko). Ryan, who worked at the same company, had had feelings for her for years, but instead of either trying to approach her or moving on when he saw she was happy, he decided to her happy ending down. The miserable sociopath would rather she was dead or subservient than with a man that wasn't him, deathly convinced that he's the right guy for Jennifer no matter what she has to say on the matter.
Unsurprisingly, she wasn't immediately enamored by a man dressed in all black slitting her mother and father's throats, so the family takes off into the rainy night with him hot on her tail. They land at a public restroom where Jennifer gave Ryan the slip and tried to drive off, not realizing he'd tied her car to his pick-up truck with a tow cable. With no other option, she ran off again, this time getting struck by a car, the driver inadvertently saving her life by almost snapping her neck.
What Was Ryan's Actual Plan In Secret Obsession?
Ryan's plan in Secret Obsession is, essentially, to step into the shoes of Jennifer's fiancé by killing him and taking his place. Ryan photoshops his face over Russell's in photos and orchestrates an elaborate backstory that involves Jennifer quitting her job and her parents dying and becoming distant from her friends because she wanted to start a family. However, this probably wasn't his initial Plan A.
Jennifer loses her memory by accident, a wrinkle in Ryan's not-quite-genius plan of terrifying her into submission. If he intended to make her forget everything, he's even dumber and more deluded than depicted here. What's more likely was probably something akin to Stephen King's Misery, where she wakes up in their country house and Ryan starts mentally torturing her in order to win her over. Driven by rage and a sense that he can make her like him if the right conditions are in play, who knows what he would have done to her. He was happy enough to kill everyone around her without a thought about what that would mean to her.
What's scary is that what shown in Secret Obsession might be the least dangerous version, and the one with the closest thing to a happy ending. Indeed, perhaps the most fantastical part of the movie is that men like Ryan are rarely so secretive, nor their targets so unaware, making this an exercise in taking things lightly for the sake of entertainment; real life is, in anything, more horrifying.