This is very spoilery, including the ending – though there are also lots of questions raised in Alive that are really interesting even if they aren’t always explained. If you only want the final big spoiler, scroll down and it’s in bold.
Please feel free to add your thoughts in the comments. It’s easy to miss a throwaway line which actually explains a lot more of what’s happening, so maybe some questions I have were actually answered.
I said in my review that the tension rather dissipates in the middle, but that’s regarding the action. In terms of who they are and what The Man (I so want to call him The Big Man, sorry Angus) is actually doing, I could barely wait until the end and had to stop myself clicking on the end of my screener to find out.
The man and the woman victims do manage to escape the sanitarium, though only after stumbling into various rooms filled with dead bodies. Out on the road, covered in blood, they try to flag down a couple of cars but no one will stop, which makes them wonder more about who they might be and what they could have done. (There are some good red herrings around him, whether he could be a killer or rapist on the run.)
Eventually a car stops but The Man is driving and tries to drag her in. They escape into the forest. The Man finds them at the edge of a rocky gorge, and shoots him (the lower-case-man? One of the problems in writing my review was knowing what to call the male victim).
The Man hugs the woman (he seems at times fatherly towards them but then also as if he’s in love with her and is furious that she choses lower-case-man over him).
He puts the gun in her mouth, and lower-case-man throws the earrings The Man gave the woman – that we know have sentimental value to The Man – over the edge. The Man rushes to the edge and she pushes him over. The two survivors then stagger to a small campsite and they are both taken to hospital. Waking up days later, both are cleaned up but still have no memories – and everyone is behaving very oddly around them.
A detective arrives looking concerned and they are put in different rooms. She explains to lower-case-man that his fingerprints are from different people: one hand is from a cop killed on duty, and the other hand is from a Death Row inmate.
In another room, the woman’s daughter comes in and starts screaming because the woman looks like her mum, who died of an illness years ago. The attack the woman remembers in an apartment happened to an entirely different woman.
We see that their flashbacks during the film were of various different lives, not simply one life each.
It turns out The Man hasn’t been killing people but bringing them to life – sewing body parts from different individuals together.
The pair are taken away, screaming, to be studied, and some wag has put a sign up on the doors outside saying Mr & Mrs Frankenstein.
There are mid-credit scenes showing The Man at the bottom of the gorge, discovered by a hiker. Of course he’s not dead! (It isn’t explained why his body hadn’t already been removed by the police, as they’ve worked out so much about him.)
By the way, although I did guess who they were, I didn’t know until the end, and very early on I had some other competing theories:
- The bandages round each of their necks made me think The Man had swapped their heads only.
- That she was the partner/wife of The Man and was in on it the whole time – that lower-case-man had killed their daughter, who she sees in flashbacks, and this was their revenge.
- That they had killed The Man’s wife and child, and this was his revenge.
So there we are! I didn’t feel we ever found out why he tortured them, unless it’s just because he was crazed or psychopathic, or simply didn’t see them as human. Maybe it wasn’t just about making a human and bringing them to life for him but about the power of playing God. Maybe he wants to be a father again (we’ve seen him in a nursery earlier). Maybe he wants a wife.
Who is lower-case-man’s head from? Is that a wanted man too? when the cars refuse to stop for them is it because they’re covered in blood and look terrifying or has his face been recognised as someone you just don’t stop for?
We also never find out where The Man comes from – I would love a prequel to see more of his story. (This being a low budget indie I doubt we’ll ever get it, but a girl can dream.)
So there we have it. There’s really no place like home, is there…
Alive is available in the UK on various platforms including iTunes, Sky, and (soon!) Amazon.
If you haven’t read it, here’s my Alive review. Also if you get the chance do check out Alive director Rob Grant’s film Harpoon which is a great ride and shows his skill at bringing to life (ha) characters who may be ethically dubious…