‘Parallax’ 2023 Ending Explained & Movie Recap: Is Naomi Dead?

I like movies where something strange is going on. You have to figure certain things out by yourself. Quite often, it’s very rewarding. But Michael Bachochin’s Parallax, despite falling into that category, left me cold. The film is full of bold ideas, but sadly, it trips over its own feet by the end, thanks to a rather botched climax. Parallax seems like a film that is so full of itself that it has forgotten the basics. The result is a really underwhelming experience with a frustrating climax. I am all for ambiguity and post-watch discussion, but the ending of Parallax feels like the director has given up on telling the story any further. You are obviously here for a proper explanation of what really happened in the end, and I’m going to try my best to give you that. But I must tell you that a lot of it is going to be my own interpretation.


Spoilers Ahead

What Happens in the Movie?

Imagine waking up one day and not remembering anything—who you are, what’s your life about, who the people around you are, and so on! As much as the idea sounds great on paper, the film keeps lingering on it for almost an hour. Naomi, supposedly an artist, is the one who’s in that state. Lucas, her well-meaning fiancé, is perplexed and helpless. There’s not much backstory here—just that Naomi used to be normal, then one day she turned into this. Lucas keeps consulting this therapist, Dr. Hill, to take suggestions and also to unburden, but nothing really changes the situation. Naomi’s condition remains the same. In fact, she even tries to drown herself in the bathtub, but luckily Lucas comes and saves her. Naomi still paints, though, and when she does, she often ends up near the ocean. Obviously, this is happening inside her head, but does that mean it’s not real? 


Who is Mikayla?

The first sign of any real twist in Parallax appears when Naomi ends up in a desert (of course, inside her head) and comes across this young woman, Mikayla. She finds a photograph of two of them, but neither of them can remember each other. However, Naomi gets a glimpse of her and Mikayla’s relationship; in fact, she gets (most likely) visions of Mikayla proposing to her. The scene of the proposal is the only flashback we get in the film so far, but while we see Lucas proposing to Naomi at first, the man getting replaced by Mikayla does throw a curveball at us. Is Mikayla real or a figment of Naomi’s imagination?

Is Lucas lying to Naomi? 

With Mikayla thrown in the mix, there comes the obvious theory: Lucas has been lying to Naomi, and he’s not good news. It gains more strength when Naomi mentions Mikayla, and Lucas doesn’t seem to know her. What further bothers Naomi is the existence of an apparent study room in their house, which is always locked, and they’re forbidden from going there. But this story obviously can’t move forward without Naomi getting inside, stumbling upon a wall full of notes about her mental illness and a very strange machine kind of set up. When she confronts Lucas about this, he doesn’t seem to remember any of it, even though he acknowledges that the room, computer, and everything are his own handy work.


Is Naomi Dead? 

Of course, it couldn’t be that simple. I suppose it was deliberate for the director to make the audience think Lucas is the one who’s doing it and then surprise them by revealing the actual twist. I am not taking pride here, but after seeing way too many science-fiction movies, figuring out the supposedly “big twist” was not exactly difficult. It had to be some kind of simulation going on, a lot like the “Person of Interest” episode “If Then Else.” And the movie proves me right after all. Indeed, Naomi and Lucas are both in some kind of simulation, all thanks to the machine we saw in the store room. Yes, computer programmer Lucas is the inventor of that device, which somehow helps people conjure up any kind of reality. Doctor Hill, Mikayla, and a few other guys are actually running the experiment on Naomi. She’s unconscious in a bathtub, and as she’s slowly figuring out what’s going on, her health is actually deteriorating. Hill and Mikayla are genuinely concerned about that and are trying their best to stop the breach. The breach here indicates Naomi and Lucas getting out of the whole simulation thing and coming back to the real world. Given that we see Lucas tied up to a chair, all battered and bruised, it is quite clear that he was not too willing to take part in the whole thing. The reason is unclear (like ninety percent of things in this film), but I suppose he was concerned about what effect it would have on Naomi. And looking at Naomi’s worsening health, it can be concluded that Lucas was right after all. 

Meanwhile, Parallax hurriedly informs us that there are multiple levels in that simulation, and the deeper you go, the more the more you forget what your reality is. However, there’s a way to bring you back, and that is a telephone call. This does seem a lot like a certain blockbuster science-fiction film that was released way back in 2010, helmed by none other than Christopher Nolan, if you know what I mean! It wouldn’t be wrong for the Nolan brothers (Johnathan Nolan is the creator of “Person of Interest,” in case you’re wondering) to sue the producers of Parallax—not for taking inspiration from their significant work, but for messing it up!


Anyway, let me just address the real question now: what really happened at the end? Now what we know for a fact is that Naomi does figure out that none of what she’s experiencing is actually real, and once she does that, she helps Lucas understand that as well. So the only solution for her is to get out of this goddamn mess by waking up in that bathtub. But Dr. Hill and company are doing everything to stop her at any cost. In the end, they fail, though, as Naomi does manage to do what she wanted to do; at least it seems like that. But Parallax was never going to give us a straightforward ending anyway, so we don’t see her waking up in the bathtub. In fact, we see Hill, Mikayla, and everyone involved dead (with nosebleeds), and the final scene is a perplexed Naomi looking at a whiteboard. From what she says, we conclude that she doesn’t remember anything—again.

My theory here is that Naomi ends up inside the simulation again. I also believe she has tried it before, only to get back to square one with no memory. She’s stuck in an endless loop of false reality. But with Hill and company dead, maybe there’s a chance Lucas will eventually save her. It’s his machine after all, so I believe he has the ability to pull it off. However, it is entirely possible that Naomi is dead in reality, which basically means she’s doomed for eternity. We don’t know why Hill and his friends were doing this experiment or how it all started, which is quite baffling to me as that would have actually helped this movie. It is okay to be weird and ambiguous, but only if you provide some context. Unfortunately, Parallax refused to take it that way, and in the end, it is just strangely obnoxious, and that’s about it. The performances of Naomi Prentice and Nelson Ritthaler deserve some credit, though.


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Rohitavra Majumdar
Rohitavra Majumdar
Rohitavra likes to talk about movies, music, photography, food, and football. He has a government job to get by, but all those other things are what keep him going.

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