Be it Chucky, Anabelle, or Sabrina, dolls are rather significant figures in horror films. “Separation” also uses this motif to showcase the separation of a child and her mother. When the child isn’t able to cope with her mother’s absence and her father isn’t always around, she turns to her dolls for comfort. But it seems that her newfound friendship with the dolls is too close for comfort, as they don’t seem to be interested in friendship but something else entirely. What is that? Let’s find out.
‘Separation’ Plot Synopsis: What Happens In The Film?
It has been 3 years since Jeff’s Grisly Kin comics were last published. He is presently unemployed and going through a divorce with his wife, Maggie. Maggie, who has a well-paying job, has decided to move to a different city with their daughter Jenny. Unfortunately, Maggie dies in a car accident. Then, Maggie’s father tries to do what she wants for Jenny, i.e., take her away from Jeff. Jeff tries his hands at a job at an old friend’s comics publishing company and isn’t willing to let her daughter be taken away by anyone. He even gets a nanny, Samantha, for Jenny. While all this chaos is going on, Jenny resorts to her dolls, which are the characters from her father’s Grisly Kin comics. She talks to them and shares her feelings with them. Slowly, she starts seeing larger versions of them, as does Jeff. When he asks her about them, she tells him that it is her mommy. While Jeff has trouble believing her, the entities get closer and closer to Jenny. What is this entity really? Is it Maggie, or is it something else trying to take Jenny away from Jeff? What brought it here in the first place? Is this a result of Jenny’s separation from her mother?
The concept of conduits has garnered a lot of attention since the release of “The Conjuring (2012)”. Demonic spirits use dolls as a means to get closer to their hosts so that they can possess them; it’s creepy. But to do so, they need a host who is psychologically the most vulnerable, which, in this case, is Jenny. According to her, it is her mother who has come to take her. She is even scared of it at times. But as per Jeff’s friend from work, it is a spirit that is stuck in the same moment. For example, if the last thing that Maggie wanted when she was alive was to take Jenny away, her soul would intend to do the same. It makes sense to think that Maggie’s spirit is “stuck” and wants to take Jenny away, although we do not know if she will take her somewhere or kill her and then take her soul with her to the other plane. Maggie might be using the dolls because it is her only way to reach out to her daughter without frightening her (although it doesn’t work quite well). On the other hand, it is also possible that some inhuman spirit has found a crack in Jenny’s soul that is a result of her separation from her mother and is trying to take possession of her if not her soul. This would justify the doll trying to pull Jenny away from the ledge towards the end of the film. This would kill her, and the demon would have her soul. But Jenny pulls herself up onto the ledge and gets inside. However, Jenny thinks that it is her mother and addresses her as “mommy.” We do not know why the spirit is reacting to being called “mom” (considering it isn’t Jenny’s mom). Maybe it requires the host to give in and cannot force the host to do what it wants. For this, the soul is using the dolls as a conduit.
‘Separation’ Ending Explained – Does The Spirit Take Jenny Away From Jeff?
While it may make sense to believe that the spirit was trying to take Jenny away, the ending proves that the spirit isn’t demonic but Maggie’s. Towards the end of the film, it is revealed that it was the nanny Samantha who ran Maggie over just so that she could be with Jeff. While this has nothing to do with the plot (and we do not know why this angle was added to the plot), it justifies why, after Jenny had the allergic reaction, Samantha was hit in the head by a swinging chandelier. Maggie’s spirit knew that Samantha was trying to kill Jenny so that she could have Jeff all to herself (even Samantha admits to Jeff that she wanted to send Jenny to her mother, i.e., kill her). The spirit even tried to kill her, if not scare her, while she was asleep and thus make her leave. But she didn’t. Samantha was ultimately killed by the spirit. Then, as Jeff and the embodiment of the doll, aka Maggie’s spirit, stare at each other, with Jeff telling her that she cannot take Jenny away, Jenny tells them that she doesn’t want them to fight anymore. She just wants her mommy and dad back. In the film’s final moments, the spirit saves Jenny and Jeff from falling to their deaths. Perhaps Maggie’s spirit realized that she could not take Jenny away by force and that the only person who could take care of her was Jeff. Thus, the spirit finds peace and finally leaves. Or does it?
There is a mid-credits scene that shows one of the dolls approaching Jenny as she sleeps. Now, it can be that Maggie is back, but only to check on her daughter, no matter how scary that looks to us. Or, it can be that while Maggie’s spirit may have left, another demonic spirit found its way inside our plane and will try to possess her through her dolls.
“Separation” is a not-very-deep portrayal of how a mother tries to reach her daughter, even in death. The film isn’t as much about the girl and her father as it is about her and her mother. Now, we can interpret it in any way we like, but we have to admit that it was love that brought Maggie back to Jenny because she wanted to ensure that Jenny was safe. While it sounds surreal, we can admit that love is something that we can only feel but never truly understand, pretty much like spirits. And maybe that’s a good thing.
“Separation” is a 2021 horror thriller film directed by William Brent Bell.