Netflix's Thriller Movie Ending Explained

How does Thriller end, and what does the ending mean? The new slasher movie is the latest low-budget Blumhouse production to get wider distribution through Netflix, joining the recent Mercy Black and 2018's Cam. While similarly indie-spirited, Thriller has name value attached to it in the form of Wu-Tang Clan frontman RZA, who produces as well as plays a high school principal and provides the soundtrack for Thriller.

Indeed, Thriller touts itself as a kind of hip-hop version of Prom Night - a teenage murder-fest with an all black and Hispanic cast set within a small borough in South-Central Los Angeles. Touching on issues of drugs, class, prejudice, and adolescent hopelessness, while also covering the standard tropes of teenage melodrama, Thriller is an auspicious attempt to represent the life of a young person of color within genre constraints.

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Thriller's plot and ending cover a lot of bases, with a third act twist predicated on examining pre-conceived biases, the way cruelty and abuse can reverberate in subtle ways, and privilege. Thriller leaves a lot for the viewer to consider what goes beyond its harrowing death scenes.

What Actually Happens In Thriller's Ending

Thriller is a revenge film, but not in the way it wants you to believe. For the most part audiences are led to believe the killer is Chauncey, an intellectually disabled boy who served four years in juvenile detention when an attempt to scare him with a cruel prank went awry. Now free and back home with his alcoholic mother, Chauncey is believed to be the hooded menace that is carving up the friend group that committed the prank.

At the group's high school homecoming dance, what began as a trickle of victims becomes a flood as the friends are killed left and right. One couple is killed in after making love in the parking lot, while another two are brutally murdered during a lover's quarrel. Lisa is thrown off the top of a school building, but she miraculously survives and manages to help subdue the masked killer in the climax, only for the culprit to be revealed as Derrick, and not Chauncey as previously thought.

Caught and in custody, the final scenes show the killer's room and manifesto for the murders being discovered as he himself is restrained in a hospital, much to the pleasure of Chauncey, who watches with a smirk.

Why Was Derrick Doing It?

Having had a crush on the girl who was killed in the opening incident, Derrick was so consumed by guilt and resentment that he wanted to punish his so-called friends for orchestrating the incident that brought about the tragedy. Most of them had found a way to walk away from what happened, despite having condemned someone to prison, choosing to live better lives and work towards escaping their neighborhood. Derrick had a rage and fixation that only festered over time, though, and nearing in on high school graduation, he had to take his chance if he wanted everyone in one place to be picked off.

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There's also an implication the murders are motivated by his loneliness. Being a film about teenagers, there's a healthy amount of relationship drama in Thriller, and a homecoming rejection is framed as a contributing issue to Derrick's mindset. Not that it makes it right, but it does add a tinge of toxic masculinity and entitlement to the grief and anger otherwise.

Page 2 of 2: Who Survives Thriller & What Happens To Chauncey?

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