‘The Woods Are Real’ Ending Explained: Are Quincy And Joba Dead Or Alive?

Folk horror coupled with the narrative mix of wilderness survival is a tried-and-tested recipe for engaging thrillers, as the insignificance of human existence realized in the midst of the primal unknown often produces the most effective version of fear. Alix Lambert’s The Woods Are Real, drawing on a similar formula, showcases its first quarter as a promising buildup for a potentially intriguing thriller set in the woodlands. However, soon enough, the effort to jam-pack too many issues into one single narrative starts showing its adverse effects, and as a result, by the end, the feature turns out to be too pretentious and convoluted for its own good. 


There are instances where visual cues from classics like The Wicker Man or Midsommar can be identified, but the overall shoddy treatment nullifies any form of impact those could have had in the storyline. The bizarre choice of plot progression, contrived dialogues, and questionable editing make it something of a tough ordeal to sit through the movie, even with its rather short runtime. 

Spoilers Ahead


Why Did Quincy And Joba Decide To Go To The Cabin?

Before moving to the central narrative, The Woods Are Real opens with a cryptic question asked by an elderly figure, whom we later learn to be the mysterious Woodsman. The scene shifts to the luxurious dining room at the house of socialite couple Joba Winters and Quincy Goodwin as they host their friends, Stan and Caleb, for a dinner. Caleb has recently returned from a solo vacation after inexplicably spending three months in a cabin in the wilderness, and the conversation continues to circle around that topic. According to Caleb, who seems noticeably composed and eccentric, the vacation was more like a spiritual journey for him, which has altered the course of his life. However, instead of sharing actual details about what kind of experience led him to completely abandon his usual life, Caleb tiptoes around vague accounts of attaining spiritual enlightenment. Quincy lets out a passive-aggressive remark regarding Caleb’s absence, as she was seemingly disappointed at Caleb for missing her annual fundraiser, which she conducts for underprivileged kids. Caleb retorts that the charity Quincy is supposedly doing is only a self-serving mechanism, which provides her with a sense of satisfaction from performing social justice, whereas the underprivileged remain in miserable conditions. Caleb’s sharp reaction shocks everyone, especially Quincy, who smears cake in his face in anger and practically kicks the couple out of their house. 

Much to Quincy’s surprise, later Joba tries to handle the situation by defending Caleb as an eccentric person, and as their discussion veers to his past relationship with Caleb, he swiftly changes the topic. Moments later, Caleb texts Joba with a picture of the cabin in the wilderness where he had seemingly gained life-changing experience and requests that he visit the place with Quincy to know for themselves. It is a form of apology on his part for his previous misconduct, and to make amends, he is treating them to a few days in the cabin. Caleb’s lofty claims had already piqued their interest, which is why the couple agreed to venture to the mentioned location. 


How Did Joba And Quincy Get Separated?

As Joba and Quincy begin their journey towards their destination, their conversation provides us with some insight about them as people. Both of them belong to privileged families that lived off generational wealth and are obsessed with being labeled as conventionally good, progressive people. Joba is the kind of person who wants to appear as the politically correct male figure of the family, while her family’s history of profiteering off of the blood of Tanzanite miners implores Quincy to keep her conscience clean through charities and activism. In short, the duo is among the so-called cream of the crop class strata, and among them, Joba is painfully clueless about the reality of the rest of the world.

As the couple reaches a secluded, empty, and rather luxurious cabin in the woods, a brief conversation is initiated between them regarding family finances. Sometime later, Quincy finds out that she has become pregnant, and as she shares the news with Joba, he discovers a box with their name written on it. Confusion amps up as a gramophone starts playing recordings of a garbled voice, which announces an ominous directive of surrendering everything to ‘Him’—possibly addressing a higher power. Right at the moment, text alerts on their phones convey that their money has been emptied from their bank accounts, which sends the couple into panic mode. Deciding to head back home, the duo momentarily forgets their belongings inside the cabin and rushes outside to get to their car, only to realize moments later that both the car and the cabin have vanished in thin air, and they are standing in the midst of a forest with practically nothing at their disposal. 


Starved, anxious, and desperate, the couple venture further into the forest as time passes, and hearing a gunshot nearby, they assess the presence of a hunter. Joba cries out for help after noticing a figure lurking in close proximity, but immediately decides to hide after adhering to Quincy’s concerns about the adverse possibilities of the person being a troublesome individual. Later, as the person departs, Joba decides to follow the trail, much to Quincy’s dismay. Quincy raises her suspicion of the entire situation being a highly advanced simulation, but gets interrupted by the sight of a two-barred Orthodox cross, a sign that they had noticed at the cabin as well. 

Moving further into the forest, Joba notices a cooking pot in the midst of the jungle, and having been famished for so long, he can’t help but gobble up the food—only to realize moments later that the mysterious hunter, Woodsman, now wearing a ritualistic deer skull-like mask and wielding an axe, has captured Quincy. Forcing Joba to look the other way, the creepy individual abducts Quincy, and a fearful Joba starts scouring the forest in search for her. Eventually, he comes across the tent of the Woodsman and spots Quincy there, and as he tries to free her, the Woodsman interferes. Congratulating Joba on winning the ‘first test’, the Woodsman reveals his face and clarifies their concern, stating none of this is simulated; they are being tested in the wilderness in real-time. The Woodsman goes inside the tent for a while, and Joba notices that details pertaining to his and Quincy’s personal lives—updates from the papers—are stacked in the Woodsman’s collection, suggesting that the person had prior knowledge about the couple and they hadn’t just stumbled across him co-incidentally. Providing Joba with some tea, the woodsman introduces himself as a hunter working for some version of a higher power. Joba falls unconscious after consuming the spiked tea, and the woodsman leaves him in a different part of the jungle. 


What Does Joba Learn From Caleb Regarding The ‘Test’?

Upon waking up, a dumbfounded Joba tries his desperate best to find Quincy, but only ends up getting even more lost in the woods. Eventually, he sees a school desk in the middle of the wilderness and gets even more surprised to see Caleb buried alive in close proximity. After rescuing him, Joba lashes out at him for bringing them into such a godforsaken place. Caleb states that he had to partake in such tests as well during his previous visit, and to get free, he had to follow a defined set of directives: repenting one’s sins, submitting to one’s baser instincts, accepting one’s wicked self, and sacrificing one’s dearest thing. For Caleb, who never built any meaningful connection with his family and barely had acquaintances, Joba, the friend whom he loved since a young age, was the most dearest thing, and by sacrificing him, he was able to get out of the forest in the first place. Which is why he feels bewildered as to why he has returned to the woods once again.

On the other hand, the Woodsman continues speaking in cryptic ways with Quincy about his faith, which seems guided by some sort of archaic, pagan, patriarchal way of believing. He mentions that Quincy is special as, being a pregnant woman, she harbors two souls. To her horror, he adds that he apparently has a coven of similarly abducted women. Desperate to get out of this mess, Quincy tries to seduce the Woodsman to get closer to him and fatally stabs him in the neck. The Woodsman’s cry reaches Joba and Caleb, who interpret it as Quincy meeting her end in the hands of the nefarious zealot. Getting furious at Caleb for the horrendous situation, Joba stabs him to death. Afterwards, a horrified Joba tries to wipe the blood off his hand in the water, but just like how his family’s blood money will forever stain their legacy, Joba is unable to remove the stains the incident left on his psyche. 


Were Quincy And Joba Able To Return From The Woods?

The scene shifts to a congregation of women clad in pastoral attire, and their ominous, melodious chorus reverberates across the forest. The group of women enters a house by the side of the forest and prepares for supper while acting in a strange manner. Moments later, Joba notices the house and frantically runs there in hopes of getting rescued. Joba introduces himself to the group of women and learns that they are widows whose husbands have been killed by the Woodsman. They are waiting for a good man to arrive at their doorstep, upon whose arrival their god will judge them and provide them deliverance at long last. Joba states that he has lost his wife at the hands of the Woodsman and, upon questioning, reveals his profession. The congregation of the widows shares details about their late husbands’ professions as well, and Joba finds common ground as, just like him, all of them belong to an extremely privileged class—the ones who mooched off legacy money accumulated through systematic exploitation. Joba suddenly finds some semblance of hope, considering the entire ordeal to be part of an elaborate game to teach the upper class a lesson, and wonders about the possibility of his wife, and Caleb, still being alive. However, he is corrected by the congregation, who assure him that everything he has experienced so far is as real as it can get, as are the consequences of his actions.

The leader of the congregation, Katherine, asks Joba whether he is a good person—the one whose arrival can set them free—and Joba recounts a sordid memory from his childhood to emphasize that he is not. Growing up in an affluent household, Joba never felt the urge to excel in basically anything, which distanced him from his father, who expected much from him. Seeking attention from his father, Joba soon realized he would not be able to gain it, and out of spite, he killed his family pet to revel in his father’s disappointment. Murdering Caleb was submitting to baser instincts, and admitting his true nature turned out to be Joba’s acceptance of his true self. 


Moments later, Quincy rushes into the house, and seeing her alive and well, Joba feels extremely relieved and overjoyed. However, as she reveals that she has killed the Woodsman, chaos ensues among the members of the congregation of widows, and anticipating an even worse fate for themselves, they start lamenting and wailing. These women seem to have lost their mental faculties and have been integrated so much into the faith of their god that they don’t even consider the possibility of returning to their formal, normal lives. Utterly confused and frightened, Joba and Quincy leave the house. 

Back in the woods, fatigued, hopeless, and despondent, Joba and Quincy lose any hope of escaping from the forest by conventional means. As they spend the night in the woods, they share a vision of their child—a boy whom Quincy names Daniel. She is fearful of his future, as she believes that their son will be cursed to live in a doomed existence like they are being subjected to right now—fleeing throughout his life with no hope of escape. The next morning, as the duo ventured further inside the forest, they shared their aspirations regarding their son, and only in this moment did the couple share their honest feelings, untainted by social prejudices or pretentious appearances. They reach an altar rock, with the familiar two barred crosses drawn on it, and set their minds to sacrifice the child for whom they won’t be able to provide a safe future. Just as Joba goes to strike Quincy to sacrifice their child, a disembodied voice stops them, and the scene fades to darkness. 


The Woods Are Real‘s ending takes place in the household of Joba and Quincy, presumably years later, where we see a young Daniel present among them, whose birthday is being celebrated. Joba reads sermons from “The Book of Job,” and as the view zooms outside their house, the Woodsman’s voice is heard, dictating to a significant number of people sermons from unknown scriptures. The Woods Are Real‘s ending doesn’t clarify whether the family has indeed returned to their usual life or whether it is a lucid dream they are seeing while still being entrapped inside the woods. In any case, the Woodsman and his belief have surely done a number on them, along with the life-altering experiences they have gone through in the wilderness, which will continue to leave lingering effects throughout the rest of their lives. 

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Siddhartha Das
Siddhartha Das
An avid fan and voracious reader of comic book literature, Siddhartha thinks the ideals accentuated in the superhero genre should be taken as lessons in real life also. A sucker for everything horror and different art styles, Siddhartha likes to spend his time reading subjects. He's always eager to learn more about world fauna, history, geography, crime fiction, sports, and cultures. He also wishes to abolish human egocentrism, which can make the world a better place.

Latest articles