‘Nightmare’ (2022) Ending Explained & Movie Summary: Is Dr. Aksel Dead?

Kjersti Helen Rasmussen’s 2023 film, Nightmare or (Marerittet), follows a married couple, Mona and Robbie, who move into their first apartment at the beginning of the film. The new place seems odd at first and has a dark history attached to it. In the 1980s, a pregnant woman died there, and no one really knows the cause of her death. As Mona and Robbie settle in, Mona starts to experience intense nightmares and suffers from sleep paralysis. In her nightmares, she constantly sees her husband, and because of it, her personal life starts to suffer. Will Mona be able to uncover the truth behind the apartment’s dark past? What actually happened in that apartment, and why is Mona getting horrified visions? Kjersti Helen Rasmussen’s Nightmare delves into themes of psychological horror, past traumas, and the power of the subconscious mind as Mona navigates the terrifying landscape of her dreams.

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Spoilers Ahead


What Did Mona Start Witnessing During Her Sleep Paralysis?

After moving into the apartment, Mona and Robbie host a housewarming party with their friends, discussing plans to redecorate the old place despite its unsettling history involving a pregnant woman’s death. However, during the party, a neighbor complains about the music, and his wife, Siren, interrupts angrily, banging on the door with their crying baby. When Mona tries to comfort the baby, Siren aggressively moves her hand away, leaving everyone unsettled. The following day, Mona overhears her neighbors shouting and fighting, with Siren staring creepily at her through the door. That night, after a long day of work and redecorating, Mona experiences terrifying nightmares of ominous black creatures approaching her in her sleep, only to wake up abruptly in the morning.

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On another night, Robbie isn’t home, or so Mona thinks, as she encounters someone who looks exactly like him and becomes intimate with him. However, she’s shocked when Robbie returns, revealing he recorded her throwing things and screaming in her sleep, apparently sleepwalking in a terrifying trance. One day, while peeling off the wallpaper in the apartment, Mona discovers a passage hidden behind it, connecting to the neighbor’s apartment. In a horrifying dream, she witnesses Siren dropping her baby and attacking Mona’s pregnant belly. Awakening, Mona finds the wallpaper intact, but with the words “I am awake” written on the wall. Before sleeping again, Mona watches a YouTube video on sleep paralysis, attempting to stay conscious and avoid hallucinations. However, she’s abruptly awoken by Robbie, who tells her she’s bleeding. Rushing to the bathroom, Mona discovers her baby in a bloodied state and flushes it down, indicating her miscarriage.


How Did Siren Die?

It seems like Siren understands what Mona is going through, experiencing similar nightmares. One day, Siren invites Mona to a lecture by Dr. Aksel, a sleep therapist, hoping it might help. Mona agrees to go with her. At the lecture, Mona learns about sleep paralysis, and about a sleep demon called “Mare” and its origins in Greek and Nordic folklore, as well as the associated hallucinations. She notices cut marks on Siren’s hands, indicating that she too has been struggling with similar experiences since seeing Mare in her sleep. After the lecture, Mona observes Siren speaking with the doctor, clearly worried. It becomes apparent that Siren is also haunted by the same nightmares as Mona. The next day, Mona decides to properly introduce herself to the neighbor. Initially friendly, Siren even offers to let Mona hold her baby. However, Mona realizes there’s no sound of the baby crying and assumes the baby must be sleeping. But upon investigating further, she discovers the baby cot empty with blood-stained sheets and overhears the neighbors discussing the baby’s death. Another day, Mona witnesses a disturbing scene while hosting a party in her apartment. Siren comes out of her apartment, her husband yelling at her. Suddenly, Mona sees Siren standing on the edge of the staircase, then jumping to her death before her eyes.

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What Did Mona And Robbie Find Out From Doctor Aksel?

Mona confides in Robbie about her tormenting nightmares and her desire to leave their apartment. Robbie, however, insists they can’t afford to move and suggests seeking help from Dr. Aksel. At the doctor’s office, Aksel acknowledges the severity of Mona’s condition and advises her to stay overnight for observation. He instructs her to keep the lights on and look for mirrors in her dreams to remind herself she’s awake. Following his advice, Mona agrees to the plan and schedules another appointment for a lucid dream study, urging Robbie to join her. During the lucid dream study, while Mona is asleep and being monitored by the doctor, Robbie snoops into the doctor’s confidential file cabinet, discovering a pattern of sleep paralysis cases among the building’s female residents, including Siren and Mona. Meanwhile, using advanced medical equipment, Dr. Aksel determines that Mona’s nightmares revolve around Robbie and are indicative of a classic case of sleep paralysis, or “mare.” He explains that Mona believes she’s possessed by a demon in her dreams who looks like Robbie, leading to her self-harming and endangering others. As the treatment unfolds, Mona experiences a terrifying nightmare involving a crying baby and finds herself waking up in the emergency room with Robbie and Dr. Aksel by her side. The doctor reveals that Mona had missed her abortion, leaving Robbie stunned, as he had been unaware of her pregnancy. Despite his desire for a child, Mona fears it may be a “demon baby.” Upon leaving the ER, Dr. Aksel advises Mona to continue therapy and suggests she inform Robbie about her nightmares, particularly those involving him impregnating her against her wishes due to her fear of a demon baby. Robbie, shocked by this revelation, reacts impulsively by punching the doctor and refusing further treatment for Mona.


How Did Dr. Aksel Die?

Robbie asks Mona about the abortion, expressing shock and anger that she kept it from him. Mona said he always used to pressure her and never listened to her, and she explains that she never wanted to become a mother and resented buying the old apartment in the first place. This revelation angers Robbie, causing him to storm out of the house. Meanwhile, Mona went to talk to Siren’s husband about his experiences dealing with this situation, which revealed a disturbing truth. He discloses that his wife, Siren, experienced similar nightmares, where she believed she was being raped by a demon every night, and their baby was the demon itself. Desperate to stop the torment, they resorted to drugging the baby, but when they realized it would only make the demon stronger, they killed the baby instead. He warns Mona that the demon desires to be born anyway and advises her to confront and kill the baby before it is born.

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The following day, Mona learns from Dr. Aksel that she is still pregnant, and the doctor informs her that she will remain pregnant until the baby is born, with no escape from the situation as Mare possessed her. He advises Mona to confront the demon in her dreams. Later that night, when Robbie returns home to find Mona, he sees Siren’s husband at the door, armed with an axe, claiming that the demon is present and he intends to kill it. Robbie rushes inside, only to see Siren’s husband fatally injuring himself in the head with the axe in a frenzied attempt to destroy the demon. Concerned for Mona’s safety, Robbie rushes to Dr. Aksel’s office, where he finds Mona experiencing severe nightmares. In a desperate attempt to save her, Dr. Aksel intervenes in Mona’s dream, but tragically, he gets killed by the demon. As Mona awakens, the dream world collapses around them, and Robbie pulls her back to reality.

During Nightmare’s ending, Mona’s husband took her to the emergency room where a doctor revealed that there’s unusual activity in Mona’s frontal cortex, something that shouldn’t be happening, and even after having undergone an abortion, the baby fetus is still alive. Several months later, it is seen that Mona has finally given birth to a child, and when she hears the baby crying, she calmly cradles her and takes her to the apartment balcony. Even though Robbie tries to stop her, Mona knows what she’s doing and why. With a grim determination, she lets the baby fall from the balcony, as she believes the infant to be the embodiment of “mare,” the reason for her torment. The chilling final act in Nightmare shows Mona’s decisive action to confront and end the nightmare that has plagued her existence, despite the heartbreaking consequences.

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Sutanuka Banerjee
Sutanuka Banerjee
Sutanuka, a devoted movie enthusiast, embarked on her cinematic journey since childhood, captivated by the enchanting world of the Harry Potter series. This early passion ignited her love for movies, providing an escape into the magical realms of cinema. She is currently pursuing a master's degree in media science, combining her academic pursuits with her unwavering passion for the silver screen.

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