‘Wintertide’ Ending Explained & Movie Summary: How Did Beth Return The Strays To Their Normal State?

John Barnard’s 2023 film Wintertide isn’t just about the mindless zombies that go around town chasing and killing people; rather, it takes a detour from all the gory elements to focus on the toll an epidemic takes on the mental health of those enveloped in it. The film isn’t just about survival but about the transformations and changes that take place inside everyone’s mind.


Wintertide is set in Canada, wherein most of the population has turned into zombies, called Strays, because of depression caused by the lack of sunlight. Also, these Strays caused electrical disturbances whenever they were in the area. To counter the spread of the epidemic, the government passed around some pills and syrups to fight off the symptoms. Wintertide revolves around one specific person caught in the crosshairs of this zombie apocalypse: Beth.

Spoilers Ahead


Why Did Beth Refuse To Take Her Pills?

Wintertide began with Beth (Niamh Carolan), a woman in her mid-twenties who spent her nights looking for her missing father. Other than being a devoted daughter, Beth was also a watch person, trusted to monitor the area for any hostiles (Strays, in this context). If she found any, Beth needed to call for backup, which would then be taken care of  The government then housed these mindless Strays in glass cells built specially to keep them inside. Even though Beth would hardly admit to it, the isolation had left her sad and distressed, and to counter it, she had indulged herself in search of her father. The melancholy was also making her see things that weren’t really there, and she often felt that there was somebody in her house when, in reality, it was dead empty.

Beth wasn’t the only one, and the majority of the remaining population battled with the same predicament. Beth also refused to consume medicines and pills that the government had manufactured to fight depression. Beth believed that the medicines didn’t work and were just circulated to control the chaos and tension. Her mother was taking the medications, but despite it, she turned into a Stray. Beth was under the impression that she was immune to the effects, unlike many others, and didn’t need any pills. Beth had also dismissed all the rules that were made by the government to keep people safe.


How Are Beth’s Flings Evolving Into Strays?

You cannot survive a deteriorating world without someone by your side. Beth knew this and thus dated a couple of individuals to suppress her loneliness and desire for longing. She spent a passionate night with Tabitha (Colleen Furlan), one of the girls living in Sector 15, and had a weird dream. Later, she had the same dream when she slept with Derek (Jesse Nobess), a man who grew up in the same locale as her. In her dreams, Beth saw herself turning them into Strays. The very next morning, both of their behaviors changed drastically, and they either left the house without saying anything or asked Beth to leave as soon as she woke up.

Both Tabitha and Derek also had weird marks on their bodies that suggested that they had been infected. At first, Beth couldn’t make anything of it but soon found out that her romantic flings had evolved into Strays after spending a night with her. The very same fate befell Jason when he spent the night with Beth. When those responsible for keeping the streets clean of the Strays came to know about it, Beth was pulled out of the patrol. Just like Beth, they also couldn’t figure out why everyone was turning into a Stray except her.


How Did Beth Return The Strays To Their Normal State?

As Wintertide neared its end, Beth found her father, Eric, hiding in an abandoned building away from the civilian population. In reality, both Beth and her father shared the same supernatural condition of turning people into Strays. This was precisely why Eric had been avoiding human contact all along. Whenever Beth made connections with someone, she unknowingly emptied their souls, eventually turning them into Strays. For instance, even though his friends and family were turned into Strays, Derek had found a way to keep himself afloat. However, when he got intimate with Beth, it emptied his will to live. This spiraled him into depression, and eventually, he became a Stray. The same could be said for Natalie (Solange Sookram), Jason (Darcy Fehr), and the others.

Beth figured out that she was connected with the Strays via her dreams, and if she could turn them into Strays, she could reverse the effect as well. Earlier, while she slept, the evil alter-ego in her dreams tried to transform Natalie. Beth tried to intervene, but Natalie fled from her house. Tom (Jeremy Walmsley) figured if he killed Beth, everything would stop, but she survived. Despite Beth’s best efforts, Natalie turned into a Stray. She killed the innkeeper and used his keycard to release all the Strays onto the streets. Realizing she was running out of time, Beth topped up on the sleeping pills, and this time, rather than emptying their souls, she let them have what she had taken from them. The movie concluded with Beth, Derek, Josh, and many others returning to their original states.

Final Verdict

Wintertide is quite basic, and it falls flat in its attempt to sound highly intelligent. The concept of transforming people into mindless zombies due to depression and sadness is interesting, but the movie fails significantly to fully explore this idea. The film had the potential to be a brilliant psychological thriller but ended up becoming a subpar product that failed to hold our attention. The cinematography, for a while, connected the audience with the characters, but it in no way compensated for the flaws in the story, narrative, and overall execution. At the end of the day, Wintertide is unbearable, and you would watch it just for the sake of maintaining your streak of completing every movie you touch.

Rishabh Shandilya
Rishabh Shandilya
Rishabh considers himself a superhero who is always at work trying to save the world from boredom. In his leisure time, he loves to watch more movies and play video games and tries to write about them to entertain his readers further. Rishabh likes to call himself a dedicated fan of Haruki Murakami, whose books are an escape from his real being.

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