‘The House Of Secrets’ (2023) Ending, Explained: What Happens To Mrs. Eket?

If you’ve held the signature Nollywood melodrama against the first 10 minutes of Niyi Akinmolayan’s The House Of Secrets and left the screen, you’ve missed out on the fantastic tonal shift that transpires when you expect it the least. And from that point on, the Nigerian thriller-drama takes the most unexpected leaps; the impressively unforeseeable shifts from color to black and white only singing of what’s at the heart of the movie. Because more often than not, The House Of Secrets is more a wonderfully tragic love story than anything else.

Spoilers Ahead


Plot Synopsis: What Happens In ‘The House Of Secrets’?

There’s something disquietingly phony about just how nice her family is being to Sarah as the wheelchair-bound woman finishes up her journal that she bases on the lovesick neighborhood couple. There’s a reason why she’s strangely startled by the sound of a train and pauses at the mention of the name Panam. The seed of doubt is sown in you the moment you see Dr. Badmus losing his cool as he, quite unprofessionally, pushes Sarah to access what her mind has blocked out. For someone who’s been wrongfully imprisoned and then spent years chock full of sedatives at a mental health facility, it’s only convincing that Sarah’s mind has completely disassociated from that part of her life. But is that all there is to her story? From the looks of the morbid hallucinations that haunt her and the leg injury turning out to be a sham, it’s fair to assume that things aren’t what they seem. And when a terrified Sarah runs out of the house and goes missing, what you’ve been thinking so far only seems more and more likely to be the truth. Her “family” coming back only to find her room empty sends them into a state of panic. But this doesn’t seem to be the kind of anxiety that one might experience when someone they love has gone missing. 


Why Was Sarah Being Held By Mrs. Lawal?

By now, you’ve probably wondered if the house that Sarah was staying in was a simulation of sorts. Well, you aren’t completely off base in thinking that. The place that Sarah believed was a house is, in reality, a site for an experiment run by a certain Mrs. Lawal and her crew, all of whom posed as Sarah’s family in order to trigger her repressed memories. When the distracting sci-fi-ish speculations are given a rest, it’s evident that none of them wish her harm. It’s true that Sarah has spent the better part of her life abused in prison and a psych ward, but what put her in hellholes like that was a far worse game of fate. Sarah’s loving husband, Panam, a Nigerian army official, was mercilessly killed right before her eyes on a train. His crime? Being in possession of some incriminating evidence against General Sanni Sofa, who was brutal enough to crush anyone who stood in the way of him overthrowing democracy in the 90s and is set to be the next President of Nigeria. The warrior for the more desirable and humane candidate Durosimi Williams, Mrs. Lawal, has put together a team of likeminded people who live for the prosperity of their country and concocted a plan to revive Sarah’s memories so she can help them get to the file that contains the dooming evidence against Sanni.


How Do Sarah’s Memories Resurface?

There have been multiple subtle instances of Mrs. Lawal’s crew not particularly seeing eye to eye with their leader. And if you think about it, however noble the goal may be, locking a poor victim of trauma and abuse up and forcing her to relive something her brain has repressed to protect her isn’t the most ethical way to go about it. So it’s only understandable that all of this gets to be too much for Sarah, who’s just now been brutally hit with the reminder that the love of her life had died an awful death. Luckily for Sarah, the other people involved in the project, especially Daniel, aren’t as emotionally stunted and cold as Mrs. Lawal. And fact is, one of the major reasons Sarah hasn’t been able to remember her past is because, for a long time, she’s been kept from possible triggers. Although not necessarily sheltered from pain, she’s been kept away from anything remotely related to the life she’s led.

A walk in the world outside seems to be all that she needed to not just reconcile with her wretched past but also linger in the thoughts of the one-of-a-kind love that she had in Panam. Flowing against the current, The House Of Secrets trusts the black and white to speak louder than colors and communicate each endearing step taken by the lovers while the seamless montages write a fairytale about the two. Love finds a way to seep through the minutest of cracks. Even when Sarah’s mind rigidly blocked out any whisper from her wretched past, her love for her late husband was the only thing she faintly remembered. With the faces, the names, and the capacity for healthy remembrance gone, their love manifested in the form of the neighborhood couple that Sarah would hallucinate and write about. What she saw was her subconscious’ attempts at bringing her back to the time when she was the happiest.


Did Sarah And Panam Have A Child Together? Where Is He Now?

Albeit quite prosaically, The House Of Secrets effectively stays true to life in its way of manifesting triggers that may cause a flood of returning memories in a person with dissociative amnesia. The film also very tactfully employs these triggers to pave the way for new conflicts to thrive. One of these consequential stimuli happens to be the sight of a pregnant woman, which lands Sarah in a whirlwind of crisis as she remembers that she was pregnant with Panam’s child. It was when the birth of their newborn was nearing that her husband handed her the file on Sanni for safekeeping. And that realization opens a can of worms that we’ve sort of seen coming, points at the elephant in the room, and raises an ominous question: what’s Mrs. Lawal up to? If her keeping the information about the scorched post offices away wasn’t reason enough to reconsider the faith everyone had in this do-gooder, Mrs. Lawal hiding the fact that Daniel is Sarah and Panam’s long-lost son certainly peeves her already suspicious crew.

By now, it’s become rather obvious to us that Mrs. Lawal is secretly playing both sides and supplying information to Sanni in exchange for his financial help with her NGO. It’s no wonder that she’s been hellbent on conducting her cruel experiment on a broken woman, even though the rest of her crew voiced their concerns about the same. She was so adamant in her pursuit of the files that she was ready to sacrifice what was left of Sarah’s shattered mind and her memories. For someone who was supposedly heartbroken by the pain that Sarah has endured all her life, Mrs. Lawal is tremendously volatile and ruthless in her approach. If anything, her behavior serves as the trigger that reminds Sarah that she was the one who led an army of gun-wielding cops into the train, tagged Panam a terrorist, and caused mayhem that subsequently ended up taking his life. The apple didn’t fall too far from the tree. Even as a kid brought up in an orphanage, thinking his parents were the victims of a robbery, Daniel has grown up to be just as upstanding and selfless as his father. And from his mother, he’s inherited the formidable resilience that helps him keep going even when he finds out that his role model is a two-faced snake working for the man who wishes to establish his reign over a crumbling country and exploit it further.


‘The House Of Secrets’ Ending, Explained: What Happens To Mrs. Eket?

Niyi Akimolayan’s most wholesome win is in effortlessly creating characters that are morally upright without having to base their entire personalities on it and placing them against the ones that are completely lacking in any values whatsoever. On the good side of things, we even have someone like Esther, being driven by her sense of duty even when she stands to gain nothing from it. Even when abducted to be the next pawn after Sanni murdered Mrs. Lawal for being incompetent, Esther doesn’t even make false promises to his goons, even when her and her son’s life hangs in the balance. But the crown for the most inspiring and self-sacrificing character is bound to go to Mrs. Eket, the woman who took Sarah under her wing and has been an unwavering source of love and support ever since her mother had passed. She’d seen Sarah bloom into the most wonderful girl. She was the one who pushed her to pursue the love that Panam was offering.

There was nothing that Mrs. Eket wouldn’t have done to ascertain Sarah’s safety and happiness. And that’s precisely why she was the only person that Sarah could turn to and trust with the risky file when Panam was ready to disappear to keep his family safe. Even though she wasn’t completely unaware of the dangers associated with harboring such documents, Mrs. Eket was in a hurry to help Sarah without a second thought. The post office going up in flames was no match for the determination that she had to hold on to the documents, run to Sarah and hopefully warn her before it was too late. The life of a woman married to a devoted servant of the country isn’t an easy one. The only solace and comfort Sarah had when Panam was deployed came from Mrs. Eket. And even now, almost a lifetime later, she knows that Mrs. Eket would’ve protected the documents with her life. Luckily for Mrs. Eket, she wasn’t home when Sanni’s goons went over to recreate the destruction of the post office.

The bond of blood is immediate and undeniable. It isn’t only because Daniel is a stand-up guy that he has been steadfast in his resolve to make the journey as comfortable for Sarah as possible; it’s also because there’s been a faint yet perceivable sense of connection between the two. Of course, he needed his time to wrap his mind around the fact that his entire life and everything he’s worked toward has been a lie. But as soon as he was able to put his needs aside for the sake of attending to the matter at hand, Daniel ran to his mother. All he’s ever wanted to do is to help people. He’s painfully aware that his pain pales in comparison to the acute suffering that his mother was made to go through. It takes the estranged mother and son but a minute to acknowledge how much they really do mean to each other despite having an ocean of lost time and absolute chaos standing between them.

But more essentially, Daniel’s admirable sensibilities help him see the bigger picture and appreciate the fact that he’s the offspring of two valiant warriors. And like his father, whom he’s sadly never had the opportunity to meet, Daniel is a hero through and through. It takes a hero not to bat an eye and walk into a flaming building to retrieve documents that can potentially save a country from falling into the hands of absolute evil. It’s no wonder that in Daniel, Sarah sees the image of the man she loved and admired beyond anything. What The House Of Secrets achieves by ending on a note of playful, yet intriguing moral ambiguity is the quiet liberation of the message that the human mind is more complex than a person seems on the surface. Do we really know what Mrs. Lawal’s real game plan was? How are we supposed to know her motives when her life was taken before she could voice a clear threat against Sanni? If you ask me, it’s more than possible that Mrs. Lawal’s drive, and instinct were greyer than they were pitch black. As a mother of two who truly did work for social welfare, perhaps it was her idea to play both sides and reveal that she was truly against the evil before it went too far. 


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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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