‘The Mental State’ Ending Explained & Movie Summary: Is Andrew Dead Or Alive?

The Mental State, directed by James Camali, delves into the psyche of a high school student named Andrew, who struggles to cope with his father’s tragic suicide. Feeling isolated and lacking a support system, Andrew finds solace in a disturbing fantasy where he believes his father is still alive under the facade of a town shooter. Andrew recreates a narrative in his head where he takes up the duty to protect himself, his family, and his classmates from the town shooter. Unable to accept the reality of his father’s death, Andrew goes into a world of hallucinations and drug use to cope with the loss, and he becomes increasingly detached from reality. James Camali’s fantasy thriller film offers a poignant exploration of the complexities of the human mind, touching on themes of PTSD, ADHD, and depression. The question here is: will Andrew ever be able to differentiate between reality and fiction? Let’s explore the narrative of the film and find out what happens at the end of The Mental State.

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Spoilers Ahead


What Did Andrew Witness During The Hayride? 

The Mental State begins with a group of people attending a retreat at a church to overcome their addictions to smoking and drinking, guided by Pastor Shane and their faith in God. Andrew, although somewhat disinterested in all these, had managed to get clean and sober after his father’s suicide. He kept this to himself while his mother shared her own journey to sobriety on stage, expressing her desire to improve herself to better connect with her family. Andrew was glad to see his mother making an effort. During a hayride organized by Pastor Shane, Andrew met a girl named Bethany and enjoyed the company of her and others. As he drove the group, he got startled by a sudden gunshot. So he drove the car as fast as possible, and he accidentally collided with another car but managed to avoid the shooter. The police came to find out who fired the gun at the kids. When Andrew went to school, he noticed people looking at him strangely. But Bethany hugged him and called him a hero. However, Andrew got called to the counselor’s office because he hadn’t applied to colleges. Andrew explained that he’s got a lot on his mind and was working on his graphic novel. Some people started complaining at the police station, saying maybe there wasn’t a gunshot after all. They pointed out that the police report didn’t mention finding any bullet holes in the car or nearby, suggesting there was no gunshot. But what they didn’t realize was that there was no gunman; it was all in Andrew’s head. He imagined his father with a gun. Maybe Andrew thought of his dad holding a gun because his dad died by suicide using one. Andrew didn’t want others to get hurt, thinking that someone who can hurt himself can also hurt others.

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What Made People Realize That Andrew Needed Help? 

Even after the scary incident with the gunfire, Andrew kept seeing things that weren’t there. One day, he went into the forest and thought he saw his dead dad, dressed all in black. They climbed up on a water tank, and Andrew talked about wanting to help people. He asked why his dad had fired the gun, and his dad said he was aiming at Brian, another kid from school, because he was worried about him using his skills with weapons in a dangerous way to harm the community, as after the coal mine shut down, he became one of the pharma lords in cahoots with drug dealers to take advantage of kids in the town. It was clear that Andrew wasn’t really talking to his dad, but he was struggling with feeling jealous and insecure about Brian, especially since Brian was dating Bethany, whom Andrew liked. At a fair with Bethany and her friends, Andrew got really anxious because he thought Brian might hurt Bethany. This worried Andrew’s aunt, who worked for the police, and she wondered if Andrew was using drugs. Even though Andrew said he wasn’t, his mom was suspicious and asked him to take a drug test, which made Andrew angry, and he hit her before running off to his room. She thought it might help if he went to the special retreat at the church to deal with his feelings, like she had to cope with her drinking problem.

Andrew said he’d think about it, but he still felt mad at Brian. At a school party, Andrew saw Brian giving drugs to people and bothering Bethany, so he tried to videotape it for future proof. When Brian tried to force himself on Bethany, Andrew tried to stop him and recorded it on his camera. But Brian got mad and broke the camera, and Bethany got upset and reported Andrew to the school authority, as she felt humiliated in front of everyone. Andrew was really upset and didn’t know what to do. Andrew’s mother’s boyfriend tried to talk to the boy so that he would express the feelings that he had bottled up inside. After his father passed away and his mom started drinking a lot, Andrew had no one to talk to. His mom realized how much he was hurting and wanted to take him to see the school counselor. But when she stepped out of the room for a moment, Andrew took her laptop and sent an email to everyone saying that Brian was a rapist. Then he ran off, talking to his dad. His aunt saw this and realized he was talking into the air, but thought he was talking to his dad. This made her realize that Andrew needed help. 

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What Happened To Andrew? 

Andrew went to talk to a psychologist, who said he had depression and early signs of ADHD. Since he found out about his father’s suicide, he couldn’t sleep, and his brain started making up stories. He got kicked out of school, and his mom, who works as a waitress, worried he might also consider suicide. She asked her boyfriend to adopt Andrew or marry her so they could afford his medical bills, but he said no. Andrew felt alone, so he tried talking to his imaginary father but couldn’t. This made him angry, and he burned all the money his mom saved for a church retreat. She asked the pastor for help but was refused. Feeling alone, Andrew wandered into the forest and imagined his father telling him to hurt those who had turned against him; otherwise, his father would shoot them. He felt he had to protect his friends, especially Bethany. He went home and grabbed his father’s gun to stop his imaginary father from shooting and hurting his loved ones. His mom tried to stop him but couldn’t, so she called the police. At school, there was chaos, and everyone was scared as Andrew came to school holding the gun. Andrew found Bethany and tried to reassure her, saying he was there to protect her. Bethany understood how scared and vulnerable Andrew was. She tried to convince him to give up the gun, but he didn’t want to. He believed they could protect each other. Suddenly, someone thought Bethany was in danger from Andrew, so they started firing. Bethany got hit, but she survived. Unfortunately, Andrew got shot too, and he fell to the ground, dead.

During The Mental State‘s ending, Bethany struggles to overcome the trauma she experienced. The gunshot wound serves as a constant reminder of the horrifying events she witnessed, making it difficult for her to move on. Andrew’s aunt, who worked in the police force, resigns from her job because she feels she failed to protect her nephew, questioning the purpose of her role as a protector. Andrew’s mother and her boyfriend break up, leading her to fall back into drinking, which she had managed to overcome previously for the sake of her family. Without Andrew, she loses her sense of purpose and turns to alcohol once again. Surprisingly, Brian, whom Andrew had been fighting against, joins the police force, which implies that even within noble professions like law enforcement, there can be people with ulterior motives, highlighting the reality that not all people in positions of authority can be relied upon for protection. The Mental State‘s ending highlights the lingering effects of trauma on individuals and how it can affect their relationships and sense of purpose. 

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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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