‘Fear’ (2023) Ending, Explained: Who Survived The Horrors Of The Strawberry Lodge? 

Pandemic-themed horror movies have started coming out three years after COVID-19 made the earth stand still as millions died from a horrible virus. Now, Deon Taylor’s horror film Fear uses the panic in people’s minds during 2020 as the backdrop for his film, where a group of friends arrives at a lodge only to realize there’s something severely wrong here. Starring an ensemble cast including Joseph Sikora, King Back, T.I., Annie Ilonzeh, and Terrence J., among others, the movie tries to exploit people’s worst fears against them. To be honest, though, the movie is bad. It’s choppy, replete with poor editing and bad direction, and the story goes every which way, making for a bad and unsatisfactory watch. By the end of the 100-odd minutes, you’ll be wishing you didn’t sit down for this.

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Spoilers Ahead


Plot Synopsis: What Happens In ‘Fear’?

Horror writer Rom Jennings takes his girlfriend Bianca and a group of his friends to a remote place called Strawberry Lodge for a weekend getaway during COVID times. At night, they list their worst fears, and soon afterward, everyone starts mysteriously dying from the fears they’d mentioned as an unholy entity begins roaming the lodge.

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Arriving At Strawberry Lodge

A NY Times best-selling author, Rom Jennings, drives his girlfriend Bianca to a massive lodge in the middle of nowhere as a surprise for her birthday and to research ideas for his next book, one that delves into the aspects of fear. At the lodge, Bianca and Rom meet several of their friends who’ve gathered to celebrate Rom’s success and Bianca’s birthday and to get away from the havoc of the pandemic. The entire plan has been organized by Michael, Rom’s friend, and manager, who also got everyone tested before the trip. They’re soon met with the manager of the hotel, the decrepit Mrs. Winrich, who clearly gives off serial killer vibes. She takes a picture of the group with a Polaroid camera and, before leaving, gifts the group a bottle of wine.


People And Their Fears

That night, the group gathers outside the lodge around a campfire, and Rom tells the story of how, during the Gold Rush, miners used to come to this area and plunder and pillage the women living in this area. As a response, these women formed a coven and became known as Las Brujas to exact vengeance on the miners who’d harmed them. The people then begin listing each of their fears to win over what terrifies them the most, and Rom’s childhood friends Russ and Lou share their fears of blood and not being trusted, respectively. Russ’s girlfriend Meg fears drowning; Michael shares his fear of claustrophobia; Serena mentions how losing control terrifies her; the photographer Benny mentions his phobia of policemen and being arrested; and Lou’s girlfriend Kimmy is terrified of not being able to provide for her son. Bianca, who grew up religious and now has developed asthma, mentions that she fears losing her faith and not being able to breathe, while Rom says the losing his girlfriend is what he’s afraid of.

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The Virus 

The group decides to convene at the lobby and open the bottle of the gifted wine, but while trying to reach the lobby, Michael repeatedly keeps walking through the same corridor. He finally manages to reach the lobby and then open the bottle, but it tastes revolting, and everyone complains about the horrid taste. The friends retire for the night, but Benny tells Michael that Lou is sick and might be infected because he’s been constantly coughing. The photographer starts looking up facts about the lodge, and he finds a few creepy things related to the remote place until his internet connection is suddenly lost. Bianca tries talking to Rom about something, but he’s constantly distracted with his research, and later, she has horrible nightmares. Meanwhile, Rom goes downstairs and begins exploring the basement, where he finds old notebooks with cryptic messages and pictures of people who lived in the lodge in the past. Bianca wakes up with a jolt and goes downstairs to put the kettle on for tea, but she spots a cradle rocking on its own in the basement until Rom interrupts her reverie. They go to the lobby, where the others have convened to listen to the news, and the journalist says a new airborne virus has been released, and it’s mandatory to stay indoors at all costs. The news keeps getting more disturbing by the minute, ending with a direct threat as if aimed at the guests in the lodge, saying, “You’re all going to die.”


Discord In The Group

Panic breaks out within the group, and everyone starts pointing fingers as Benny reminds the rest that Lou is sick and needs to be handled lest he infect others. Kimmy packs her things and leaves, saying she must return to her son and she can’t stay back. She asks others to join, but everyone is too terrified of this new virus in the air, and they watch Kimmy drive away. Meg and Serena help Bianca to her room when she starts having breathing issues, and she reveals to the women that she’s pregnant, but the joy is interrupted when Serena breaks out in skin rashes. She suddenly loses her precious necklace, which she always wears, and starts freaking out. While exploring the basement, Russ, Benny, and Michael find a locked room that doesn’t have ventilation like the rest of the lodge, and they decide to bring Lou in there so that he doesn’t infect others. Benny also spots an evil-looking box and breaks the lock to find something wrapped in a cloth that has 419 sewn into it. Despite Benny’s misgivings, the three men manipulate Lou into going downstairs with them, and when they try shoving him inside the room, he wounds Russ with a screwdriver before being kicked inside. Lou begs them to be let out, but the others have already fled.

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Rom finds out about what the men have done and finds Russ bleeding. He admits that something had come over him, which made him act this way, and begs Rom to let Lou out. While Rom makes Michael take him to where they’ve locked Lou, Meg starts tending to Russ’s wounds, despite his pleas, so that she doesn’t get infected as well. Lou starts hearing eerie voices that drone about how his friends don’t trust him and that he’s not wanted, as the knife he’d picked up to defend himself starts going for his throat. By the time Mike and Rom open the door, they find Lou lying dead, his throat slit. As Mike howls, trying to figure out why Lou would kill himself, Rom tells him it wasn’t a suicide and that there’s something wrong with this lodge. As Rom goes back to explain the same to Bianca, she shouts at him and makes him listen to her; she reveals she’s pregnant to her boyfriend.


More Deaths Follow

Meg has been trying to disinfect Russ’s wounds in the washroom when her memories return, and she’s reminded of how she’d been held underwater in a bathtub by her friends as kids, and she’s terrified of the monster that stares back at her. A hand drags her into the water and holds her down as she starts being engulfed in water, denying all her attempts at escape until she drowns in the bathtub. Outside the washroom, Russ is terrified as he watches copious amounts of blood shooting out of his wounds as a witch stares at him from the ceiling. Russ is paralyzed in his bed and can’t move when Mike arrives to find Russ struggling to move while some unseen force snaps his neck. Mike tries fleeing but is dragged into a dreamlike state where he finds himself trapped, and he repeatedly moves his head, screaming, “Let me out!” However, what he doesn’t see is that it’s just an illusion, and he’s banging his head on a ceramic sink until he cracks his skull and dies. Bianca goes downstairs and tries the landline, but there’s no signal. She finds the register but is surprised to learn that they’re the first guests to arrive in 8 years. Benny starts looking through the photos he’s clicked and is horrified to find out that some of their friends have their faces blurred in the photograph. Eerily, it’s the same people who’ve died in the last few hours.


Discovering The Truth

By then, the remaining members—Rom, Bianca, Benny, and Serena—gathered in one room, and Rom told them that there are witches that are gatekeepers of portals for evil, and the only way they can keep portals open is by feeding souls to the portals. He adds that the creepy manager, Mrs. Winrich, must be one such gatekeeper, and she’s feeding their friends’ souls to keep the portal to evil alive. When Benny mentions finding some Latin letters in a photograph and the number 419, Bianca quickly picks up on that and says the Latin words “nolite timere” mean “don’t be afraid.’ For the numbers, she needs the help of the Bible, and she finds the numbers resemble Isaiah’s verse 41:9, and the message is to not be afraid. Rom tells the rest that the witches of the lodge deal with people’s fears and make them come alive, so the only way to escape the lodge is by not believing what they’re made to see. The horrors will be real if they believe in them, and Benny is dragged into the closet, but he remains unscathed because he doesn’t believe in them. The four of them begin escaping, but Serena gets dragged into the basement, and Rom and Bianca go after her while Benny waits outside.

Benny tries his best not to believe in the hallucinations the lodge plays before him, but he ends up finding himself in a situation where he’s been dragged out of his car by a corrupt cop and accosted. In the basement, Rom and Bianca find Serena standing transfixed, and they repeatedly tell her whatever she’s seeing isn’t real, but Serena finds herself in a hole in the ground and starts struggling as she loses control. Rom and Bianca watch, horrified, as Serena suddenly rises in the air before having her neck snapped. The couple runs out of the basement into Benny, who’s bent on exacting revenge on the cop who’d hurt him and stabs the oncoming person in the gut with a screwdriver. However, it’s not a cop, but Rom, whom Benny ends up stabbing, who then tries undoing the imaginary handcuffs and instead slits his wrist in the process. As Rom lies dying, he begs Bianca to escape.

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‘Fear’ Ending Explained: Who Survived The Horrors Of The Strawberry Lodge?

With the witch at her heels, Bianca starts running and manages to escape into the forest outside, but she realizes it’s not real as the witch creeps up behind her and forces her down. It starts drawing Bianca’s soul out of her body as she hallucinates not being able to breathe and passing out when she remembers her faith and starts recounting verse 41:9 to the witch. The Bruja stops in its tracks and begins panicking at the recounting of the Bible, and it finally screeches and flees at the mention of “God.” Bianca runs out into the woods and finds people walking about freely as her phone starts blasting with texts from Kimmy, who tries telling her that there’s no virus or disease and that Bianca needs to call her immediately regarding Strawberry Lodge. A few days later, the bodies of the dead people are found inside the lodge as a shadowy, mysterious figure moves away from the window.

Two people survive the entire ordeal, and they’re Bianca and Kimmy. Since the lodge plays on people’s fears, Kimmy’s biggest fear was not losing her son, so she escaped, which saved her life. There was no airborne virus at all, and it was just another hallucination the lodge had played to keep the people inside. On the other hand, Bianca survived because her faith was strong, and she sent the evil back by reading a verse from the Bible. As it turns out, the evil wasn’t routed, however, and it remained inside the lodge, waiting for its next set of victims.

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Indrayudh Talukdar
Indrayudh Talukdar
Indrayudh has a master's degree in English literature from Calcutta University and a passion for all things in cinema. He loves writing about the finer aspects of cinema, although he is also an equally big fan of webseries and anime. In his free time, Indrayudh loves playing video games and reading classic novels.

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