How does one deal with the grief of the unfortunate loss of a loved one? Losing a child as a mother, especially, can be one of the toughest things to face, but ClearMind shows a rather gruesome approach to dealing with the grief of death—blame it on the people next to you and plan revenge in your head for their negligence. Well, to be fair, Nora’s life falls into complete disarray after the unfortunate death of her daughter, which gets aggravated by her divorce and her isolation from her friends. This indie movie, despite its annoyingly eccentric characters and unimpressive screenplay, shows a fresh take on the slasher genre.
What Is The Plot About?
This story revolves around Nora, a middle-aged woman grappling with the recent loss of her daughter, who tragically drowned during a pool party. Following this heart-wrenching incident, Nora and her husband, Michael, experience the common strain that often distances couples after the death of a child, leading to their separation. Nora’s isolation intensifies when her friends deliberately exclude her from a weekend reunion, fearing her grief might dampen their much-needed escape. Despite endless efforts, Nora finds it challenging to overcome the tragedy, a struggle worsened by the revelation of her husband’s new relationship. The story highlights her emotional journey, marked by the difference between her difficulty moving forward and her husband’s apparent ability to do so. In an attempt to alleviate her pain, Nora has been undergoing a novel form of therapy involving virtual reality.
How Does This VR Therapy Work?
VR therapy, administered to Nora by her friend Lily, is a novel approach to therapy that, in a step-by-step approach, uses the patient’s grief and releases their aggression and frustration in a controlled virtual environment with the therapeutic goal of moving on from their past. One might even wonder who thought of this logic, to begin with. In the movie, Nora has been gradually exposed to this therapy for quite some time. However, after hearing about her husband, she is desperate to move on from her past. She decides to skip through the next few steps to experience complete simulation, even though she does not want to find new reasons to continue her life. It is revealed later that the program feeds heavily on the patient’s imagination and relationships to create the people in their simulations.
What Exactly Happened At Shannon’s Lake House?
As Nora wakes up in the VR simulation, she finds herself in a lake as she swims towards her friend’s house. Meanwhile, members from Nora’s former group arrive at Shannon’s lake house, which she inherited from her grandfather. Shannon hosts the getaway with her husband Tom, with Kate, an alcoholic, her ex-husband, David, Michael and his overly religious girlfriend, Shelby, and Lily as their guests. What follows is some rather humorous banter making the audience question their decision to be in the same place at all, until Nora shows up at the venue. Uninvited and drenched from her dip in the lake, Nora stands eerily in the hallway, startling Kate. Nora’s presence prompts a flurry of reactions, with friends summoned to attend to her. During a discussion about her appearance at their getaway, Lily, the self professed mental health advocate reveals that she had invited Nora to the house to face her triggers, secretly knowing that this was all a part of the simulation to help her friend deal with the group of friends who abandoned Nora during her time of need. Nora engages in a conversation with Shelby about her relationship with her ex-husband as she finds herself jealous. Later at the dinner, Nora expresses her frustration with the loss of her daughter, comparing her abilities as a mother with the others, concluding that despite being a good mother, her daughter is not alive. The dinner turns sour as further revelations come out, turning everyone against each other after Nora lashes out at them. It seems, at this point in the simulation, Nora is allowed to use her aggression in any way she prefers since it is not real, however, she uses this opportunity to begin terrorising these people.
Why Does Nora Kill Everyone?
Nora’s frustration with her friends’ abandonment after her daughter’s tragic death fuels her deep-seated resentment, laying blame on them for the negligence at the pool party that led to the devastating incident. Perhaps, a coping mechanism for an unfairly imposed tragedy that robbed her of all happiness. Upon discovering this unique form of therapy, Nora views it as an opportunity to channel her pent-up aggression towards her friends, understanding the simulation’s distinction from reality. Beginning with her estranged husband, Michael, Nora is disappointed by his inability to navigate his emotions following their daughter Hannah’s death. Michael’s pursuit of comfort outside their marriage becomes a point of contention for Nora. She even holds him accountable for their daughter’s demise, mentioning his presence at the pool as insufficient to prevent the tragedy. The revelation that Michael is about to become a father again becomes the catalyst for Nora’s gruesome act, as she mercilessly murders him with an axe, initiating a ruthless killing spree.
Tom, another victim of Nora’s emotional tie-severing rampage, meets a similar fate. Nora’s motivation is to free herself from lingering emotions attached to these individuals. The subsequent murders of the remaining group members follow, each an expression of Nora’s desperate attempt to escape the overwhelming emotions tied to her friends. As the conclusion of her virtual killing spree approaches, Nora decides to murder Lily as well, exposing that she has disabled host mode for her. She reveals that she remembers Lily’s flirtatious behavior with Michael during the tragic accident, which apparently distracted him from supervising the children, contributing to the unfortunate incident.
Why Does Nora Show Up At The House?
After waking up from the simulation and having her memories of Lily restored, Nora engages in a heated argument with her friend. Lily, instead of providing support, mocks Nora for her perceived inability to take control of her life, calling her a sad little bird. This cruel taunt prompts Nora to leave the program on a bitter note, clearly affected by Lily’s callous words. As the movie approaches its conclusion during the weekend getaway at the lake house, Nora unexpectedly arrives uninvited, carrying an axe.
ClearMind‘s ending eerily mirrors the events of the earlier simulation, leaving Lily visibly anxious about the unfolding situation knowing that a murderous fate awaits them. The simulation, which was supposed to be therapeutic for Nora, turned out to be detrimental instead. It aggravated her grief and desensitized her to the idea of murder. In hindsight, the ending also provides an interesting take on the use of pseudoscience on mental health conditions.