‘Family Dinner’ (2023) Ending, Explained: How Does Simi Save Herself From The Cannibal Couple?

In a time of flatulent ambitions that, more often than not, fall face first, a film that knows what it wants and does what is essential to achieve the same is quite a treat. If I had to, and by no means do I have to, bring up one area where Peter Hengl’s directorial debut, “Family Dinner,” could have benefitted from a bit more thought, it would be the discernible lack of a singular drive tying up peculiarities of actions of premeditations. But thematic ambiguity has a charm of its own. It is, through conscious devising or not, far eerier when the monstrosity doesn’t have an evident origin, or even a determined goal, for that matter. Sharing its myriad themes with the Fantastic Fest winner Spanish thriller “Piggy” and one of 2022’s more scarring horrors, ‘Speak No Evil’ takes nothing away from “Family Dinner” in the bigger picture. If anything, I would say that Hengl’s film, which sets its mark perfectly every step of the way with actors that bring the creeping terror up to the surface, went rather unfairly unnoticed. 


Spoilers Ahead

Plot Synopsis: What Happens In ‘Family Dinner’?

It’s best to be wary of the recluses. I guess nobody told Simi that when she set out for her aunt Claudia’s secluded home to spend Easter. The disquietude of Simi’s dynamic with her aunt is rather loud in the quiet home barricaded by the apathetic woods. Simi isn’t necessarily wanted by Claudia, who’s divorced from Simi’s side of the family and has now built a seemingly functional life with her son Filipp and her new partner Stefan. And if you were wondering why Simi is insistent on staying with an aunt who makes it rather clear that she should leave before the Easter weekend so as not to spoil their private family occasion, it is because Simi has something she wants from her chef/diet-guru aunt.


Once a celebrated chef and the author of a couple of bestsellers, Claudia knows more than a thing or two about losing weight without losing one’s health. And it is this very expertise that Simi hopes to benefit from on her ceaseless journey of wanting to lose the extra pounds. Simi’s mother being supportive and constantly reassuring her that she’s pretty just the way she is doesn’t mean that the world that Simi lives in is quite that kind. Even Filipp lashes out at her and doesn’t mind stabbing her with unimaginably derogatory insults every chance he gets. Although not actively slighting her, Claudia has no interest in helping Simi achieve her desired physique, especially when she’s occupied with her research for her new book.

What’s Going On With Claudia’s Family?

Claudia is oddly compulsive about the Easter week conundrum. But as confessed by her and observed by Simi and us, her faith isn’t particularly religious. The giant stack of wood in their yard is peculiar enough for Simi to sniff it out. All she finds in it, however, is a hidden backpack containing clothes and a candy bar. Keeping her nose out of Claudia’s business, no matter how strange it may be, is how Simi plans to stay on her aunt’s good side. Yet the peculiarities of the family are often too overwhelming to not even make a face at. There’s something off about the way Claudia treats her son, who seems to be perfectly alright other than being a bully when his mom isn’t looking.


It wouldn’t even require someone to be exceptionally smart to see that Filipp’s every move is carefully micromanaged by Claudia. There is no sense of autonomy, let alone privacy, for him in a family where his mother cuts up his steak into little bite-sized pieces and checks his phone every night before tucking him in. It’s not that all of these evade Simi’s inquisitive eyes, but his treatment of Simi doesn’t quite make her want to check up on his well-being. Nonetheless, Simi does try reaching out to the pocket-knife-flicking mean boy, who would rather call her a pig than communicate. Caught up between the desire to do the right thing and choosing what’s best for her, it doesn’t make it easy on Simi to spill the beans on Filipp’s whereabouts when he attempts to flee the house. But it was also partly born out of her concern for the family and her reluctance to believe that there was something dark in Claudia. As a reward for her loyalty and her help in bringing her son back, Claudia softens to Simi’s wish and takes the girl under her wings as her diet pupil.

Why Does Simi Want To Help Filipp Run?

When you’ve watched more than your fair share of horror, not only do you smell the threat a mile away, but you can almost always hit it right on the nail about what kind of terror is heading the protagonist’s way. Despite its rather commendable efforts, ‘Family Dinner’ couldn’t mask the stench of its cannibalistic air. What it does, however, is make you stray so far away from the clues that you’re never sure who’s going to consume whom. Simi didn’t expect her path to a slimmer figure to be a cakewalk, especially when a draconian dietitian was in charge of it. But she certainly didn’t expect that her process of detoxing would require her to starve for the rest of the week.


With hungry eyes and a growling stomach, Simi is made to withstand fasting along with her aunt and her partner, while Filipp is served meal after meal of gourmet preparations by his mother. To make matters worse for the starving girl, Filipp sets her up to make it look like she ate a candy bar, which makes a furious Claudia almost wash her hands off Simi. But Simi perseveres. Whether it’s clutching the weird hunger-diminishing amulet Claudia has placed around her neck or taking a sip of water every time her stomach screams out, Simi crawls her way through days of not getting a scrap of food. She’s quite self-absorbed in her way of dismissing Filipp’s paranoia about his mother, even when he does open up about Claudia’s abusive tactics of isolating him. It’s even worse that she betrays his trust and opens her big mouth to Claudia only to be convinced by her obvious lies. The themes of Sarah Paulson starrer ‘Run’ are only made more alarming in ‘Family Dinner’ by just how terrifying Claudia and Stefan are.

When Filipp shows up with a black eye, Simi’s immediate suspicion falls on Stefan, who, from what it looks like, isn’t too fond of his partner’s son from her previous marriage. Simi offers to join Stefan and Filipp on the hunting trip Claudia has orchestrated and helps her cousin avoid being bullied by taking it upon herself to put the bunny he shot out of its misery. Simi fails to hold on to her denial about Claudia when she finds her performing a bizarre ritual and sneaks out to find that Claudia has buried a creepy totem along with Filipp’s photograph covered in eggs. Her fear grows tenfold when she realizes that her phone is missing after she is caught planning to leave. And if there was anything still keeping Simi there, her urge to flee skyrockets when she finds that Claudia’s research for the new book that is supposed to explore ancient food habits is, in truth, about several modes of cannibalism. When her hunger gets too much for Simi to bear and she is reduced to begging for some food, which Claudia denies her, miserable Filipp offers up his plate only to be viciously smacked by his mother and then made to eat with an open wound on his lip. When no one is looking, Simi nicks the key and makes a deal with Filipp to leave for Vienna at 6 in the morning. She’s devastated to wake up to the fright of Filipp helping himself to the escape plan and leaving her behind. Texting him only gets her humiliated one more time as Filipp body shames her yet again and sends her a picture of his hand with a crude gesture.


‘Family Dinner’ Ending Explained – How Does Simi Save Herself From The Cannibal Couple?

More than anything, Simi desperately wants to believe every word that comes out of her aunt’s mouth. It is almost as though she deliberately ignores the telltale signs of danger and falls for the little crumbs of validation Claudia throws her way. The second she hears that Filipp is safe at his dad’s, Simi is readily convinced that it must be true. After all, Easter Sunday is approaching. It’s time for the three to break their excruciating fast. Claudia has set a grand table outside for the king’s feast she has prepared for the family. Sure, Filipp is not there, but as it turns out, he’s not quite irreplaceable to his mother. As they sit down to eat their long-awaited meal after Claudia gets done with her insufferable speech, she proceeds to cut up Simi’s portion of the meat the same way she did Filipp’s.

Simi can’t get herself to appreciate the oddity of the situation when she is about to satiate her hunger after days of starvation. When she goes to bed after dinner, she notices Filipp’s little pocket knife on the floor next to his bed. Simi finds it strange that he wouldn’t take his knife with him when he left. A text from her being ignored by Filipp makes her take a close look at the picture of his hand that he had sent her when they last talked. Zooming into the background, Simi feels chills go down her spine. The picture was taken in Claudia’s outhouse, where Simi watched Stefan butcher the bunny that Filipp had shot. It’s not that Simi didn’t already have a sense of the truth when she was eating the mystery meat, but being stared down by it in its most ghastly, unabashed form is something else entirely. When she goes into the outhouse to find out if her intuition is right, Simi is met with the petrifying sight of Filipp’s corpse with chunks of flesh missing.


Stefan has followed her in there, and as he attempts to calm a hyperventilating Simi, she repeatedly stabs him in the stomach and runs off. Running through the vast darkness in her weakened, terrified state turns out to be an impossible feat for Simi. When Claudia catches up to her and comes to understand that she wouldn’t be able to “talk sense” into her niece, she drizzles gasoline all over the pile of wood, thinking Simi is hiding inside it. The tables turn when Simi douses her murderous aunt in gasoline and burns her alive. As we see her taking a beat with Stefan taking his last, gasping breath by her side, Simi’s gesture of squeezing the amulet indicates that she may be trying to suppress a whole new kind of hunger now. Maybe it’s a hunger for murder, or maybe even the urge to consume human meat. All we know is that the blood-soaked Easter has changed Simi–most likely for the worse.

“Family Dinner” is a 2022 horror thriller film directed by Peter Hengl.

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Lopamudra Mukherjee
Lopamudra Mukherjeehttps://muckrack.com/lopamudra-mukherjee
Lopamudra nerds out about baking whenever she’s not busy looking for new additions to the horror genre. Nothing makes her happier than finding a long-running show with characters that embrace her as their own. Writing has become the perfect mode of communicating all that she feels for the loving world of motion pictures.

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