This article discusses the ending of the Netflix film Things Heard & Seen, so it will contain major spoilers.
In the 120 minutes run-time, Things Heard & Seen was aiming for a specific ending for viewers. It slowly built up a fractured marriage with plenty of unspoken words, ready to be spilled out and created into a moment of chaos. There’s a presumed escalation between Catherine (played by Amanda Seyfried) and George (played by James Norton) as they go through the motions of their marriage, while the evil of the house does its job.
As the film enters the final act, George is under pressure — he’s killed his boss Floyd from the University and put Justine into a coma. His wife is completely disconnected from the marriage — she’s seen who her husband has become, and in her emotional frailty, she slept with the groundskeeper Eddie Vayle (we all saw this coming from the start of the film — she was way too eager to hire him).
Things Heard & Seen toys the audience with two themes — a paranormal curse and a fractured marriage, and the ending tries to tie both of them up for the audience.
Netflix’s Things Heard & Seen – the ending explained
After playing innocent at the university all day regarding Floyd’s death, George returns home to his wife, Catherine. He suspects that she will leave with his daughter after seeing the young Franny fully clothed in bed. The couple argues outside in the cold, and Catherine raises her suspicions — that George killed Floyd and hurt Justine. Of course, George denies everything, and with his psychopathic tendencies, tells his wife that her under-eating is making her delirious and imagine things (she has bulimia). George suggests that she leaves and that he will look after their daughter.
George heads back inside, and a panicked Catherine heads back inside and looks for George and Franny — however, she cannot find either. Suddenly, Catherine is consumed by spirits whispering to her — Ella tries to warn her for what’s to come, but before she can respond, she collapses on the bed unconscious.
George enters the room, and a male spirit voice (we presume Calvin Vayle’s as he speaks to him later on) whispers to him, telling George what to do. Unable to battle the whispers in his head, George axes his wife to death. It’s a bloodbath.
What happens next?
The ending of Things Heard & Seen makes it look easy for George as he builds himself an alibi the next day and tells the police that his wife has been brutally murdered in a “robbery gone wrong”.
With George a “person of interest,” he heads back to the city with his parents and gets himself a lawyer. However, when he receives a note from Justine, telling him that she’s woken up and knows what he did, the spirits continue to taunt him. George believes he needs to get a boat and sail out into the sea.
And he does just that — as he sails further, the sea shows flames that start engulfing his boat — the spirits of Ella and Catherine whisper to him, “Damned. Damned. The world of spirits is not Heaven or Hell. We stand between the two. We have lost our children. Because of you, we are joined in spirit. Because of you, our powers grow. From tiny drops into an endless sea”.
The spirits of Catherine and Ella came together to get their revenge. We can assume George was engulfed and killed by the flames.
After George’s demise, the scene freezes, and it zooms out to show a portrait that’s nestled in the town art gallery — it shows the same boat, engulfed in flames in the sea. It then zooms in on the portrait of Reverend Smit and his wife outside the house they once owned, and George and Catherine settled in. The black and white portrait colorizes to show the married couple. The Reverend’s wife is wearing the same ring that Catherine found — earlier in the film, Catherine is told that it was Ella’s ring, but she must have found it in the house as well.
Everything is up for interpretation, but we can only assume that the Reverend’s wife cursed the house and has since terrorized couples that live in it. Earlier in the film, we learn that the Reverend and his wife were not a happy couple, and the wife died suspiciously at the age of 26. It appears the house follows the same pattern — the Vayle family moved in, and the couple was not happy, and their demise follows. And then the Claire family moves in, and so on, and so on.
However, what the film is not specifically clear about is whether the husbands of the Vayle or Claire family acted on their own or if they were good men and had become entrapped by spirits. While we could argue that George became evil because of the curse brought on by spirits, he arrived in the town after sending in a fraudulent reference to the university. He then proceeded to sleep with Willis as soon as he moved in.
With little to be said about whether George was this man before he arrived in the town will remain interpretative, but based on the ending, it looks like George and Catherine were victims of an unfortunate revengeful spirit that despised the men of the world.