‘Aftermath’ (2024) Ending Explained & Movie Summary: Does Kate Get A Happy Ending? 

If you don’t fancy being stuck in a dystopian jungle, chased by gunmen with gas masks on, I suggest you don’t care about the spilt coffee when you’re driving. Hungarian directors Gergö Elekes and József Gallai’s 2024 film, Aftermath, dishes out a fresh survival story with an ominous setting and a solid cast of basically two people.


Spoilers Ahead 

Plot Synopsis: What Happens In The Movie?

A certain Doctor Jane Dunning, apparently the “mother of neurosurgery,” proudly announces to the world that her groundbreaking project, Aftermath, has managed to reach new dimensions in medical science. Kate, a middle-aged young woman, can’t catch a break from her work stress and deadlines. An accident ensues when she tries to reach for her cup of spilled coffee, and she opens her eyes in the middle of the wilderness. A mysterious gunman shoots Kate, but she isn’t dead yet. Trying to be sneaky, she gets up again, only to be shot another time–still not dead. By the third time, she’s already killed one goon and is being choked to death by another; she’s saved by Bubba. Bubba ended up in this forest the same way Kate did, and both of them now join forces to flee the scene. The rest of the plot is basically about Kate and Bubba trying to find their way out of this nightmare. A powerful exchange between Kate and Bubba is the soul of Aftermath, skillfully paired with an extremely atmospheric soundtrack.


What Does Kate Discover After Meeting Bubba?

Bubba, just like Kate, has lost all his memories; he woke up in the woods just like Kate did. Kate gets eerie flashbacks and fragments of her memory keep coming to her. Bubba is the wise mentor to Kate in this hellish experience; he helps Kate by teaching him that these only last a minute before passing. Bubba asks Kate to check her pockets, and to Kate’s surprise, she finds a couple of pictures of her daughter and husband. She can’t identify them, but she figures her name out when she checks the backside of the photograph. Bubba is the mentor Kate needed in this hollow place, as he shows her how time works differently there. Bubba had a necklace from the time he woke up, and there’s a woman’s photograph on that necklace who Bubba feels is someone really important to him. Kate and Bubba find a common link in their stories; both of them saw a car before they got into the accident. Bubba shows Kate the way to find the car, handing her a pistol with only three bullets, while he decides to stay back and look for the woman on the necklace. 

Who’s Controlling The Gunmen?

Upon discovering two dead bodies, the commander of the hunters contacts a charming holographic figure. The mystery around Kate thickens even more when the commander receives strict instructions to find Kate at any cost. He’s told that sooner or later, Kate will have her memory back. If she finds what she’s looking for, that could be the end of the hunters and the whole place, too. The hologram man reminds his commander how important it is for them to capture Kate, and the clock’s ticking fast. 


Does Kate Succeed In Her Pursuit Of The Cars?

Kate follows the direction that Bubba gives her; with every step she takes, she feels panic and horror in the jungle. She finds a small military hut with not much supplies but a single bottle of water. To her surprise, she finds her cell phone inside a jacket in the same hut. Her attempts to call someone bear no fruit, as there is no way she can reach out to the outside world. She starts to swipe through pictures of her daughter and an emotional video of her dad, asking her to reconcile. When a hunter comes lurking around the hut, Kate shoots him in the head and disguises herself as one of the hunters. 

Kate sees the hunters lining up four people to blow their skulls off, and that deeply shakes her. The commander gets a reminder from the hologram man once again, who says the consequences of not finding Kate might be severe for “their world.” Kate manages to reach a spot that looks like the possible end of the woods, only to see that there’s some kind of invisible shield that stops anyone from walking out of there. Fright and terror take over Kate’s head, and a nervous breakdown follows soon after. She walks away, accidentally dropping the pictures behind. The commander finds the pictures, and probably for the first time, we see him getting excited or feeling an active emotion. 


How Does Kate Survive The Hunters?

Kate and Bubba reunite in an abandoned building. Bubba saves her life once again, before getting shot himself by one of the hunters. Before passing, he does Kate a solid and tells her that one of the rooms in this building holds all the answers. Kate finds herself in a room where the same Dr. Jane Dunning interview plays on a laptop. It occurs to her that in a comatose state, the only way she can get herself out is by questioning her own consciousness. The Aftermath project is all about putting the coma patients in a cryo-state and putting them in a new simulation, so that they can continue to live a life. Kate holds on to her memories, and now she can’t be killed again by the hunters. Kate emerges victorious against the hunters, overcomes the nightmare, and finally wakes up from her coma to resume her life.

Kate starts to regain her memory. In a flashback, she’s watching the sunset with her daughter. She remembers her husband Peter worrying about Kate not spending much time with them due to the extreme workload she’s brought on herself. When she left the house on the day of the accident, we see her taking a few sketches related to her work with her . In the designs, there are sketches of the same masked men and the charming, mysterious man who’s been ordering his commandos to get her head on a plate. Kate understands that none of it’s real, and they can’t kill her. Kate shoots each one of them in the head before walking out into the light and disappearing.


Does Kate Get A Happy Ending? 

Years later, things are seemingly normal in Kate’s life. Her household seems fine, so fine that it strikes her as suspicious. While gathering the paintings of her daughter, she senses that something is off. She asks Peter about what happened after she woke up, and now things are eerie again. Peter’s guilty face confirms that the life Kate’s been living isn’t real either. Peter accepts that it’s a simulation supervised by Dr. Bubba Edwards, and his wife. The Aftermath project has made Kate its main subject of experiment. When Kate’s condition rapidly worsened after she woke up from the coma, he agreed to Dr. Dunnings to make Kate a part of the project. Peter couldn’t possibly have lived a life without Kate, so he chose to live a life in simulation with her. Despite Peter’s crying and begging, Kate asks him to let her go. Aftermath ends with Kate walking towards the light once again, only this time, the light is the death of her. 

Kate didn’t have a choice about what happened in her life from the moment she crashed her car. Her failing marriage, disheartened daughter, and awful work life pushed her into a reality she didn’t deserve to be in. A certain experiment robbed Kate’s entire life, although it can be argued it’s better to be in a simulation than a state of nothingness – which is the case for patients in a coma. Peter’s decision of not letting his wife die is justified. Peter always seemed like a person who loved his wife and daughter, and it’s understandable that he would rather be with his partner in a makeshift reality rather than let go of her.  Kate’s wish to not live further in a lie is hard for Peter, but even he understands that it’s better for her to finally put an end to this misery. Aftermath successfully conveys how it’s always better to not live than to be the subject of a wretched experiment for the supposed “greater good.”


Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Aniket Mukherjee
Aniket Mukherjee
Aniket is a literature student pursuing his master's degree while trying to comprehend Joyce and Pound. When his head is not shoved in books, he finds solace in cinema and his heart beats for poetry, football, and Adam Sandler in times.

Latest articles