Z for Zachariah Explained and Reviewed
Z for Zachariah Is a very nuanced and pensive perspective on the evils surrounding the end of the world. IMDB
90%Overall Score
Reader Rating: (132 Votes)

My bet is that 99% of you will be coming to this post to figure out what the heck happened at the end and why did it go down the way it did. Once it gets to Netflix you probably just turned it off and immediately flipped open Google and said – “GOOGLE! EXPLAIN WHAT THE HECK HAPPENED?!” Or something like that. I will get to that, but as the movie has only just hit the theaters I’m going to first encourage people who haven’t seen it yet to see it… so that we can discuss the ins and outs of the movie together. So yeah, stay with me, and we will get to that explanation of Z for Zachariah that you are so desperate for. Be patient.

Z for Zachariah Overview

Apparently Z for Zachariah had a very good Sundance run. The critics adored the movie and gave it tons of really glowing reviews.

And since Sundance, the movie reviewing world has just adored this little film and its nuanced acting, and its really contemplative aesthetic. But since Z for Zachariah has hit the public though, a weird thing happened – there was a pretty big disparity between the Rotten Tomatoes score that the critics are awarding it and what the public is giving it. 79% verses 57% last I checked. Why the enormous difference? I’ll tell you why, its because the movie is a head-job, slow boil, and the public doesn’t get it, that’s why. But first, what is it?


Z for Zachariah Overview
The location that Zachariah is set in is the south, maybe somewhere along the Appalachian Mountains maybe? But it’s in the hollows of the mountains that our movie is set, and it is against the protective cleft of these mountains that the last of humanity possibly has been protected. Something happened in the world to kill anything and everything. There is some sort of toxic dust that will make you very sick if you interact with it, and all water that comes from outside the valley will kill you pretty quickly.

Ann Burden (Margot Robbie – who has had her hand in a couple really fantastic movies; Wolf of Wall Street, Focus, and About Time. But it will be her next couple movies that will really establish her in the mind of movie goers – with Tarzan and Suicide Squad (in which she will play Harley Quinn) and I predict Suicide Squad will take down Batman v. Superman at the Box Office. I know, bold words.) has been left behind by her family (including her father, who was the pastor of the community, and her brother who may have ties to Zachariah) and are now presumed dead. Ann had been watching the calendar and had been expecting them to return, but she has long since stopped. And her hope has run out. In her mind, she is that last person on the planet.

But then everything in the movie changes when Ann sees someone walking through the valley in a funny looking space-suit get-up thing. When the intruder takes off the suit and begins bathing in a stream that is fed from outside the valley, Ann realizes she needs to act to save his life. From then on Ann spends her time farming, milking the cows, and nursing Mr. Loomis (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor) back to life.

The tension of the movie is now palpable for obvious reasons. You don’t have to be Einstein to figure out that this Godly woman, Ann, who only wants His will to be done in her life, realizes that its probably her duty to have a child with Mr. Loomis. Right? I mean, what would you think if you were the last woman on earth. Never mind the fact that Mr. Loomis is an older black male. Never mind the fact that the two of you are absolutely nothing alike in any respect. The bottom line is that the world’s human population will end with you unless you have a child.

Oh and by the way, none of this is said outright. It’s just obvious because the acting is that good. The sexual tension is inadvertently as thick as concrete, and yet nothing is being said. The eyes, the looks, the pauses all carry the weight of the situation. The words are only talking about possibly creating a way to charge the generator via a waterfall a ways away. But its the acting that carries the gorgeous subtext.

Oh, and then, on top of this sexual tension, comes a new visitor – a miner – that is played by Chris Pine – named Caleb. Please don’t miss the fact that Caleb is young. Or that he is also a Godly man from a family of church goers. Please don’t also miss the fact… that they are both white. Because it will be based upon these not unsubtle observations that the entire movie will become completely destabilized.

Z for Zachariah – The Book


I’m going to now start diving into a few spoilers here as we discuss the book. If you haven’t seen the movie, I’d highly recommend watching it before continuing. Immediately after watching the movie I had to read the book. Like, that same night. And I was really amazed that this book was out there because I’d never heard of it. But I was immediately struck by a number of extreme diversions in the book from the movie (or more appropriately, in the movie from the book, or whatever).

The first – and probably the biggest – was that there are two people in the book, and there are three in the movie. I mean, this is not insignificant. An actor increase of 50% in any other movie’s actor budget would break the bank.

And I was also amazed to see that Loomis and Ann had a completely different relationship in the book. It came across as more of a thriller/horror feel to it because Mr. Loomis was quasi-evil. This first comes out when we find out that he shot another scientist that wanted to use the radiation suit to check on his family. We learn this during his state of delirium while recovering from radiation sickness. And it only goes downhill from there.  After recovering Mr. Loomis starts telling Ann how to plant her crops and manage her farm. Granted, he’s a scientist, but come on dude! She’s been manning the farm successfully without you!

Better yet? One night Loomis tries to rape Ann. Ann beats him off of her and then runs away. But she comes back the next day and starts working again on the farm. But she keeps her distance from Loomis. I mean, they are the last people alive. But then Mr. Loomis takes the gas from the tractor and ultimately shoots her in the ankle when he was trying to get her to stay in the house. Ann then decides to steal the radiation suit and all of Loomis’ stuff and leave. Loomis chases her to the edge of the hot zone and she escapes into the radiation… drop the curtain, queue the lights, according to the book.

Where the movie goes all sideways from the book is that there is no clear good guy or bad guy. Caleb and Ann sleep together and causes all kinds of chaos between Mr. Loomis and Caleb. And as the two of them are working, Loomis… ever so subtly, insinuates that Caleb’s life is in his hands. And then Caleb decides he’s probably better off asking for the suit and moving on and looking for his own Eve to start over with. There is no shooting. There is no tractor gas hijacking. The movie characters are actually almost too painfully nice to one another. About the only real argument and discussion that Ann and Mr. Loomis have is about whether to use the church as the raw materials for the water wheel they need to build. And Loomis is the one that says they shouldn’t build it!


Z for Zachariah Explained

So if the book and the movie are so divergent, what can we take away from the book in order to interpret the movie’s ending? I have several theories about that. I’ll walk you through them both and then tell you what I think is actually happening.

The movie is 100% nuance. There is very little given to us from the script. I know, because I’ve since also read the script in an attempt to wrap my brain around the movie a little better. And there just isn’t a lot to go on from just the words. The acting by Margot Robbie, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Chris Pine is really top notch and brings so much more to the movie than just the mere words.

Z for Zachariah Theory 1 – Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde

Seeing as though the book only has one Adam figure, Mr. Loomis… then maybe Caleb is Mr. Loomis’ alter ego… our Mr. Hyde if you will. It could follow mainly because all of the action from the book could be lumped under the Caleb banner. Caleb sleeps with Ann. Caleb takes the gear and flees into the hot zone. The comparisons sort of falls apart there – seeing as though Ann was the one that initiated the sex. And it was because of Loomis that Caleb runs for it. But seeing as though there was only one character in the book and now there is two, it is an idea worth discussing.

Z for Zachariah Theory 2 – Complete Divergence

Probably one of the most logical theories is that the writer, Nissar Modi, who adapted the book to screenplay, decided to take the script in a totally different and more nuanced direction. In this theory, Modi abandoned the evil in the Loomis character of the book. Instead of a terrible Adam type character, he added Caleb, and just went with the natural tension inherent in a love triangle, and allowed that to be his dramatic driver for the movie. And while that makes natural sense, a part of me just cries foul on this theory, which brings us to Theory 3.

Z for Zachariah Theory 3 – Movie Interrupted

My third theory about how the movie ended is that Caleb’s visit was a precursor to the book. It was an event that wasn’t discussed. And at the end, Ann is left in the kitchen, mourning Caleb’s departure because she knows that the Loomis-storm is coming. Right? She feels it in her bones that he is going to start telling her how to farm. That he’s going to demand she live in the house and will eventually shoot her. The major flaw with this coming doom perspective is that there is no indication that Loomis is that guy. And yet, its brimming. You can sort of see it in his eyes. No?

No – this theory doesn’t go nearly far enough as pointed out by many of you in the comments and by Gary who shook me awake via email. So if it hasn’t gone nearly far enough, it’s fairly obvious what happened. Ann is in the kitchen mourning Caleb’s death, and the obvious coming storm inherent in her of Mr. Loomis unhinged. It’s there in her shoving the glass off the table. It’s there in her looking in the freezer to see if the power is still on and if Loomis is still in control despite the “accident” at the waterwheel. It’s in Loomis’ eyes before we cut away. It’s in Caleb’s face before he fell to his death. Why else can you explain Caleb’s not saying goodbye? Loomis buries Caleb in the suit, and ditches his wagon. And voila, he left with whatever he needed…

Z for Zachariah Explained 

Theories aside – I personally think that it makes the most sense that the tension in their eyes has been there all the way from the beginning of the book reading by Modi, all the way through to the last moment acted on the screen. We see that Ann failed Loomis, and went running into Caleb’s arms the first moment she could. And I also think that Caleb’s dying plays into the betrayals that Ann’s life has been riddled with the past few years by her father, her brother (whom Loomis killed) and now Caleb. Caleb’s “leaving” is her back breaker… And Loomis knows she will do his bidding as long as he gives her some halfway believable betrayal story.

Caleb was a fellow believer. “The church isn’t holy, the church is only holy because of what you bring to it.” Caleb was younger and also a fellow southerner. They hit it off and really enjoyed one another. And when Mr. Loomis killed Caleb, he ruined any hope of sanity Ann had. Any wonder her name was Ann Burden? And in effect, even if Mr. Loomis never did shoot Ann or order her around, he battered her, ultimately killing the one thing she needed the most, Caleb. He was her hope. And now he was gone.

Zachariah Recap

I adored this movie. And yet, I doubt many will like it. Three people movies are never really well received. They are too play-like for the American public. And yet, they are glorious in my mind. Reminds me of Sils Maria or Tape in its tightness of scope and scale. The acting was simply lovely from start to finish. It was layered, nuanced and riveting. I personally love the idea of a Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde thing going on. Or maybe it is straight from the pages of the book? Nah, Loomis killed Jacob…. had to have. But hey… I’m open to hearing your theories about the movie.  But I guarantee you the first comment on this post will be: “You are an idiot… this movie SUCKED.” Just watch. Until then!

Edited by, CY

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153 Responses

  1. IG

    i adored it too! let me first say i am rabid over your “theory 3 – movie interrupted”. i waited a few days to google reviews and ending-guesses of this film because i wanted to wrap my mind around what i had just viewed. i then came here and read your “movie interrupted” comment. i re-watched it. i cannot stop thinking about this amazing piece of art. all my friends think it sucked. all my neighbors think it sucked. your review freaked me out and i ate it like peanuts. i have never commented anywhere online in length, but i could not resist going off this time around. apologies in advance for not proofreading and apologies in advance for the novel. if i may…

    what i know, down to my bones, is that you are 10000% right about this being a pre-book movie. what i do not agree with is that caleb walked. have you checked out the interview with zobel about the ending? it is an interesting read http://time.com/4011974/chiwetel-ejiofor-z-for-zachariah/ when i bumped into it yesterday, i was silently screaming to myself, “yes, yes, yes”.

    you typed above that “the major flaw with this coming doom perspective is that there is no indication that zachariah is that guy. and yet, its brimming. you can sort of see it in his eyes. no?”. brimming, yes 🙂 no indication? really? remember when he first got drunk? remember when he freaked out and yelled to ann over and over that he did not want to be helped? he clearly has control issues. remember when she was working the field? he was not content with her continuing and told her to quit. she insisted. he insisted. she insisted. i could feel his aggravation through the screen. go with the flow type of dude, not. your words are spot on… brimming in the biggest of ways, taylor.

    do you remember the scene before the day of finding zachariah’s wagon on the road? it was a wide shot of an out of focus breeze rustling through the trees (4min20sec mark). i found this odd and interesting during viewing#1, but forgot about it. upon going for viewing#2, i was struck with that chunk of film being a deliberately placed visual premonition of things to come; a sign of darkness entering eden? what is this darkness? caleb? zachariah? the nature of temptation to do wrong? the devil, himself? all the above?

    in the church, ann saw someone in the doorway via the reflection off of the organ. it was not zachariah’s reflection. did you see the shape of the person? it was clearly caleb. that is, again, confirmed when zachariah has no clue what ann is going on about with regard to the song she was playing on the organ. perhaps after seeing ann in the church, caleb came up with a game plan. he chose to mess with her small animal traps as a way to lure her into finding him. caleb used her own traps to trap her. this tactic is sneaky smart if you wish to take advantage of the natural compassion surrounding a foundling situation vs walking up to them on your own. was this plan influenced to take advantage of ann? was this plan enlisted so as to make sure of his own safety? considering the state of the times, one cannot be too careful. by the end of the film, it is still impossible to know if one or both men are bad. it is impossible to know if one is watching out for himself in a good way or bad. intent is as fluid as the wind at every turn and i believe that is exactly what makes this movie brilliant. there is good and bad in all men, yes? circumstance and character are not always black and white.

    the tell of zachariah actually killing caleb begins with the look shared between them during the second mountain waterfall slip. zachariah was clearly thinking about this being a way to correct his first mistake of caving in to ann and allowing caleb to stay. you could tell from caleb’s eyes that he saw zachariah’s goodness in saving him as a weakness; this self-assured borderline glib attitude was doubly disturbing considering he had yet to regain full balance on that mountain edge, but was clearly already planning his future chess move to get rid of zachariah. you see zachariah go from jealous regretful to should i protect her thoughts to a final moment of understanding one of them was going to die and it was his story to write. again, the acting is spot on because we are not sure if caleb was thinking the same thing. upon returning to the house, the numbness of zachariah’s being is spilling out from all that is him. as he struggles to hear ann speak, his ache is palpable. the solemn way he goes about hooking up the generator and standing at the edge of the cliff speaks volumes of that which had just occurred. his conscience was eating him for lunch.

    that whole Bible pushing the glass over the edge of the table moment is to show that ann believes and has resigned herself to accept the will of God. she knows zachariah killed caleb. ann know that while this is not God’s doing, she has been taught that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him. moving toward acceptance does not mean she does not also feel what you typed above. you are correct… like job in the Bible, the back breaking crush of pain and loneliness are overwhelming, but ann knows it is not her place to question if this is what is needed to fulfill His purpose for her existence. her place is to have faith. as ann wanders, she stumbles upon the organ. this, in her eyes, is seen as God letting her know he sees her pain. as ann plays, she understands this is her cross to bear. ann understands this is her “burden”.

    upon entering the barn, zachariah sees that ann knows. dissolving on the inside because of his guilt at not knowing if it was was jealousy or self-preservation or his protective instinct that drove him to kill, he is desperate for relief. what is left when there is nothing? zachariah turns to God.

    —insert the book here—

    not yet ready for the truth, zachariah cannot find solace with ann’s God. where does a man in pain go? he worships himself via the vehicle known as “blame”. didn’t he kill to keep ann safe yet she continues to shun him as a mate? wasn’t it ann that erased all possibility of a future by insisting on making caleb comfortable? why should he continue letting ann control his future? previously surfaced “i don’t need your help” demons take over. given the right set of circumstances, even a good man can succomb to the dark and have nothing in his hands but a one-way ticket. these battles of the soul are man’s nature and i believe that was what had so mysteriously rustled through trees upon entering the garden… temptation.

    • EverettGlenn

      Wow, somebody give this guy a job as a movie reviewer! Hey, that was a great read. Cheers. Now I’m totally interested in picking up the book.

      • Taylor

        Well I’ll be – “this guy” appreciates your vote of encouragement! Hahah. I’d love to review movies for a living but no one would let me go as full tilt like I can here.

        You should read the book – it really tells “the rest of the story” in my opinion.

    • Grey

      Wow, beautifully and thoughtfully written IG. Do you have your own blog site?
      It’s very interesting that the book is so divergent from the movie, the book is sounds like quite a dark piece and one that would fit the horror genre if made into a movie.
      I’m going to accept the movie as it’s own entity, a completely different story to the book. Let’s say a parallel universe to the book.
      I did enjoy this film immensely too. The performances were excellent, the direction and editing brilliant.
      Upon the introduction of Caleb, a sneaky borderline sinister manipulator, the fragile Loomis becomes increasingly distant and self isolating and virtually pushes Ann into Calebs arms (I really want to know what happens under the water, but i’m guessing they kissed passionately). Loomis’ drunker proclamation of his love to Ann immediately following this is almost too little, too late, something he should have told her the first night she tried to give herself to him.
      The timing of Ann’s betrayal of Loomis is quite cruel, and the ‘she’s mine now’ attitude of Caleb the next morning is also disdainful and humiliating.
      In the movie Loomis is a good guy, pushed too far. The look that Caleb gives him at the waterfall is so condescending, that it makes it easy for us to reconcile Loomis’ decision to let him fall.
      I like to imagine Loomis saying (or thinking) “Really, I’m saving your life for the second time in a minute and this is how you look at me? Enjoy the water Caleb”
      However I don’t think Loomis buries Caleb. Loomis does not want to touch that water. Maybe the suit punctures on a rock then fills with the toxic water as it and Caleb sink.

      The relationship between Ann and Loomis is quite fractured now. But I believe it will heal with time. Loomis will tell Ann the truth about what he let happen to Caleb, after all, he was already honest enough to tell her that he killed her brother, though not callously.
      In this universe Loomis is a gentle man, a thinker and a doer. Eventually they will reconcile and procreate. The new Adam and Eve.
      Just like Loomis told Ann earlier “we need time, and it’s ok cause we got time”.

      • Hasani

        I know this is a year too late. But this comment is exactly what I was thinking.

      • Mark Laughton

        Amen! I prefer this take on the film.
        Ann knew Loomis loved her and she loved him.
        Caleb was her temptation, and Caleb took the eggs too! Before he was outside the chapel…
        Loomis moved the organ and set up the seats for Ann… And starts to see / feel the power of faith…
        I hope she realises this…
        Not sure about Loomis letting Caleb fall… But Caleb’s faith seemed too good to be true…
        Was he a miner or convict?
        Great film X

      • RGM

        I never once felt Loomis was a “good guy”. And while Pine’s acting made Caleb seem to walk the line between decent man and “yeah I know what I’m doing”…. Caleb was not a manipulator. He didn’t manipulate anything, imo. His surprise reaction to Ann showing up to the bathroom door can confirm he hadn’t a clue that she’d be interested in him like that. Looks was never a good guy. He was selfish, and the moment this was confirmed by his admittance to killing Ann’s brother is the moment I then saw the rest of his actions and statements as selfish. His proclamation of love for Ann came only after he saw Ann and Caleb in the water (after seeing them dance)… which I believe was his was of controlling and confusing Ann. He was a lonely man that let the ramifications of the end of the world make him controlling and selfish. I found his character deplorable by the end of the film. And when I watched it again I saw the signs of coldness from him right when his character was introduced – for example, Ann saved this man and he never once showed gratitude, but instead proceeded to tell her what to do about the medicine (” I’ll need it once a day”) and telling her how to farm…. the list goes on. Loomis may have been a broken man, but he was not a good man.

    • Marcello Adams

      IG is mostly right. Big picture is that this is the end of human beings. All 3 characters are flawed because humans are flawed. Ann pushes glass filled with water off table showing that she knows 1 of those guys isn’t coming back from the waterfall. So Caleb is dead. Loomis has killed before. You don’t need electricity to survive…it’s a comfort thing. Loomis wants to live the rest of his life in comfort. He has a house, a pretty girl, and a farm. Ann has a smart guy who can fix stuff and take care of her and protect her and the farm….which is why he brings her the organ at the end. It’s a peace offering. He isn’t going to church and he doesn’t want forgiveness. No redemption here for any of them. A very cynical and pessimistic view of the end of the world. If you pay attention, man’s instinct is to help each other when in need. Ann tells Loomis to get out of the radioactive water as an instinct. Her head was telling her to be cautious. If she had just gone up to him and introduced herself, he never would have bathed in the radioactive pool. Loomis instinctually saves Caleb from falling and then when Caleb slips again, Loomis mentally processes Caleb’s death. Ann stays home during this time and she is complicit in the killing. She understands the eventuality that one of them will kill the other and she decides to let them rather than choosing one over the other. Ending would have been better if she had killed Loomis at the end after she got her organ and electricity.

      • Hutchfla

        Great movie. The man shot her bother, killed her lover and still gets to keep her at the end. Don’t hate the player hate the game! last man on earth is a pimp. Lol. Really good movie I joke. I was entertained the whole way through. Great actors

    • Dani Whittaker

      I saw Mr. Lomis as a protector of both his new found life and of Ann. The arrival of Kaleb was immediately greeted with suspension by Mr. Lomis. The gears were working to get Kaleb the hell out of there; this younger, muscular guy that just so happens to be white! I don’t buy the Jeckel & Hyde theory. What I do suggest is the unborn child that Ann may be carring wI’ll be called “Z for Zackariah”. I enjoyed the movie aND after allowing it to absorb, the open ending is fitting.

    • JoshR

      I read a comment on another site that I thought was an interesting explanation for the movie’s ending. The movie and the book are not the same. The movie makes its own story inspired by the book. Loomis did not kill Caleb. The smirk on Caleb’s face is that he knows that after saving his life twice, Loomis is the better man. Loomis never hesitated to save his Caleb’s life, and has a look of confusion at Caleb’s reaction to the second (probably intentional slip). Caleb helps move the organ and leaves. Loomis could not have done this on his own. When Ann runs to find Caleb, it breaks Loomis’s heart, and he goes to the cliff and kills himself. Ann find his body, and is heart broken by what she has found as demonstrated in the scene when she pushes the glass off the table. At the end we see Loomis’s soul step in to hear Ann playing on the organ.

      • ali

        I don’t think that’s logical mainly because the organ is still in the church after John tell Ann that Caleb left, so Caleb couldn’t have carried it with John to the barn. It does seem heavy but he could have used a trolley or something, the guy seems smart. I guess Mr. Loomis does kill Caleb to protect Ann and is tormented by this act. What makes things worse is Ann not accepting him or returning his love which is evident in the last scene. The scene where she pushes the glass off the table reveals that Caleb was indeed pushed off the cliff.
        What makes this movie great is that it’s open ended!

    • Jerry Waddell

      Very well put and I think you nailed it! Awesome comment on the original post here! Thank you!

      • Coneyro

        I just finished watching the movie. I am still shaking. What a powerful film!

        I wasn’t sure if the ending was implied or definite, but as i feel that Caleb IS dead. Now the film’s ending is the start to the actual story in the novel.

        There was a third version by the BBC years ago that had another spin, using two families, initially.

        The acting was phenomenal, and I realize not everyone is game for a character versus action piece, but for those of us who are, a better example would be hard to find.

        Loved the innuendo, and the fact that the movie audience was allowed to interpret the story as they saw fit. I thought of it as a modern, yet abstract, take on Adam and Eve in the garden, with Caleb representing the serpentlike figure.

        All in all, while not for everyone, the intellectual in me gives in a hardy thumbsup…..

    • Ceaser

      Think of the biblical brothers cain and able= caleb.
      Like the “Boss” sang adam raised a cain

  2. Taylor Holmes

    Hey IG,
    Glad there is someone else out there that sees this movie similarly to me… an underrated, yet quietly explosive film, that most haven’t taken the time to appreciate.

    When I said about my Movie 3 explanation, that there was no indication that Zachariah is that guy, I was sort of saying it tongue in cheek. There was a million different examples of how Zachariah was that guy, as you so eloquently pointed out. It definitely is my preferred explanation even though there are a few continuity issues (the suit is gone, what suit does Burden take with her later on when she barely escapes Zachariah in the book, etc.) with this theory that slows it down a bit. But I love the flow of it. Caleb visits, (oh by the way, impregnates Ann, did we talk about that at all? Adam and Eve and her twins?!? that are on the way?!? hahah.) gets run off by Zachariah, Ann and Zachariah fall out, Ann bides her time, and then at the right moment takes the suit and cart and books it out into the valley alone, barely dodging Zachariah. Yeah, you do a good job pulling the two pieces together. Like it a lot.

    The theory clicks for me. Because Zachariah is a violent storm underneath all that reason. He is a mess right now. A mess waiting to explode. But my favorite line from your write up is, “not yet ready for the truth, zachariah cannot find solace with ann’s God. where does a man in pain go? he worships himself via the vehicle known as ‘blame’.”

    Fantastic. It really is a diatribe against God, and yet an inevitable acquiescence for the absolute need for God. Both simultaneously and irreconcilably for and against this God they are at war over. But without any sort of conversation. Its really a polemic against Him, yet through its railing and thrashing it obviates the argument all together. It proves it is wrong through its own argument. Fascinating really. Great write up IG. You will always be welcome here, though you say you don’t normally comment! You did a great job summing it up. Thanks for swinging by.

    • IG

      i had a lot of fun reading, thinking, and sharing here, taylor. thank you for allowing me to type like a maniac to you then reaching out with a kind welcoming vibe. now, excuse me as i slowly devour your blog 🙂 cheers~

      • Taylor

        Very glad you felt welcome. Better than I normally do. Haha. Normally am in the minority on a theory or idea and have to fight vociferously to defend it… Generally scare most away! Hahah.

        The post (and movie) I’ve written about that would most be like Z would definitely be Sils Maria. Highly highly recommend that movie to you specifically after the way you ate up Z. If you haven’t seen it, do so. Then come back here and tell me how right I was… Yes, my ego does desperately desire that kind of validation. Then go to my Sils post and comment there. Then run from the rest of my posts here because they are all dubious at best! Hahah. If you are looking for my most popular stuff (which you don’t strike me as, but all the same) that would be my Memento, Prestige, Time Lapse, Inception, stuff.

        I’m planning to pull ideas from your comment here and inserting them into my post because you said many things better than I did. So kudos to you.

      • IG

        LOL <—- that laugh came about when i read, "Then come back here and tell me how right I was". it was such a big belly-shake level of a laugh that i scared my sleeping dog and he fell off the bed… you now owe my downstairs neighbor an apology (my dog is a 90lb package of love). i wander around thinking that sentence to myself all the time so to have read it in print was beyond enjoyable funny.

        i am now going to have to watch Sils Maria, 4sure. 4SURE! i am now also going to have to climb into the type you shared on the movie, Memento. that is one of my favorite of favorites (actually, since the movie, Following, i have consistently freaked over all things nolan). i read your "about" page after i posted my rant yesterday. like yourself, i am a freak for data so i can't wait to swim around this blog and see what all you threw into the pond, taylor.

        now that YOU woke my boy, he is giving me the evil "i gotta go outside and take care of business" eye so i am signing off. until ~

  3. Taylor

    I am personally, all in favor, of destructive and chaos inducing laughter. It’s actually one of my life goals to slowly devolve the world towards chaos via the simple tool of laughter. So yeah, mission accomplished.

    Haha, if you are a big Nolan fan, my posts on him and all the comments about my theories run for over 300,000 words I’m guessing. You now have your work cut out for you! Hahah. Maybe even runs the entire length of the Lord of the Rings trilogy if you count all the smaller posts as well? I’m guessing Nolan has a preemptive restraining order out on me already. I would. Just saying. So yeah.

    Make sure you send my love to your downstairs neighbor and that lil puppy dog of yours. TTFN.

  4. Douglas

    I can see why another reviewer on a different site called this movie a “Rorschach test”. Apparently different people will read different things into this movie. I never thought of John Loomis as controlling. I saw where he was considerate and kind. I saw Caleb as shifty. I left the movie wondering whether Caleb left or did John murder his rival? Did Ann believe John? Finally, I dont understand why Ann, who knew John loved her, went in to have sex with Caleb.
    Anyway, I too fell in love with this movie and will be watching it again and again to try to glean what I can from it.

    • Jennifer

      I agree that Mr. Loomis often seemed kind and that I found Caleb shifty and untrustworthy. But this film (more so than the book, which is a young adult book and a lot more simple than the film) is so full of ambiguity and nuance and seems very, very real. People aren’t always just “good” or “evil”. And although Ann seems so innocent, she clearly goes for the hot bad boy over the thoughtful, sensitive, intelligent Mr. Loomis. It was painful to feel his pain when Caleb showed up and destroyed his paradise. I still don’t know whether or not he killed him or Caleb left because he saved his life but knew the tension between them might eventually be lethal. No way to know.

      • Tom

        It was painful to watch Caleb enter the farm, yes, but his inclusion didn’t cause the heartbreak I thought it would, for Loomis, or myself. The synopsis had its eyes on lofty emotional ambitions of love and betrayal that I thought would extend over years. I imagined a heartbroken Loomis as Ann burns the bridge between them, only to look on, powerless, as she founds a new one with Caleb. It could have gone there, like a dystopian farm version of Closer, but the writer went easy on us and for that I can’t forgive him.

      • Delia Ross

        Well she actually tried to have sex with him twice and he denied her. That’s why she wound up going to the other guy.

    • Stacy

      Because she wanted to have sex with Caleb. You don’t get to “call dibs” on somebody – Ann had the agency to choose a mate as she saw fit.

      I’m also surprised that you didn’t see any controlling behavior out of Mr. Loomis. I felt it on a menacing level when he got drunk & abusive to punish her for not quitting tilling when he wanted her to, when he refused her advances (he was only going to sleep with her on HIS terms), and finally when he questioned her behavior towards Caleb as a new guest. This is HER farm for goodness sakes.

    • Scar-T

      The way I see it, I’m not sure in her heart of hearts that Ann completely forgave Loomis for [most likely] killing her brother. Yes, she cared for him, but I think in that moment when she was lying next to him as he slept, she wanted to hurt him just a little bit, and best way to do that was to go and sleep with Caleb. Why else would she pull that move right after Loomis told her that he loved her? That’s my theory anyway. Or maybe she just wanted someone who would actually take her up on her offer. Who knows, humans are complex beings.

      Agree that I didn’t quite see Loomis as controlling. He’s a guy who will do what needs to be done (killing that boy, killing Caleb, etc.) but not manipulative. Not the way Caleb was anyway. That guy tried to manipulate Ann into thinking Loomis wasn’t good enough, that he wouldn’t survive because he didn’t have faith in God. I also didn’t quite believe that Caleb was a God-fearing man. It seemed to me that he saw religion was important to Ann, and tried to shape his image into a type of guy that was suited to Ann… demonstrate a way in which he was better for her than Loomis was.

      Rorschach Test is an apt description for this movie!

  5. Taylor Holmes

    Hey there Douglas,
    It really is a rorschach – it’s totally a test of our psyche and what we bring to the table. This thing is so barren, and devoid of direction, (in a good way), that we really are left to do our own psychoanalysis of these characters (and ostensibly ourselves). Which is what I love about it. It’s so rare that we get such great mood movies that just try and palette knife emotion across the screen, and leave us to make our own conclusions. I actually wouldn’t disagree with your vantage and take on the film. A subtle nod is all it takes to make me change my opinion almost immediately. Having read the book I bring such a bias to the movie, but I saw the movie first, so that makes it even more complicated for me. But thanks for posting, totally agree with you Douglas.

  6. Johnny

    i Think Zachariah Killed Caleb At the end of the movie and hide the body somewhere , cant you just see tht look in his eyes , he wanted to let him fall !!

    • Adam

      That’s exactly how I interpreted the film ending. I thought he may have let go of the rope in the end, but that would have made the guy fall and damage the water wheel, so maybe he just killed him another way? Interesting movie.

      • TONY

        Boy do I have a lot of opinions on this movie, I really think you’ve all done a wonderful analysis of it. My own opinions aside, I just want to throw a wrench in the works as far a Calebe dying after second slip. In the scene they had just layed the last piece, basicly a what 8′ or 12′ 12“14“ wide ramp, basicly to transfer water from waterfall to wheel, if he let the rope go, wouldn’t have Calebe hit and broke it? So; after all his hard work, he chances possibly having it destroyed by a falling body. I’m thinking that would’ve been in the thought process. Power came right on. So nothing broke or damaged, ok extreamly lucky. But then he had time to hide, sink body, move pews and organ and be back at house in time to tell her Calebe left?
        . Also Calebe was a hustler, stole eggs for food watched and learned, listened to her on the organ and who knows what else or for how long? Then found a way “in“ to the group agreeing with the water turbine was a way to stay on the “in”.yes I said way in the group, Calebe didn’t see them as a cpl IMO. Calebe didn’t think there was a choice, because he’s a southern white boy. After their encounter, the next morning, he is showing (lack of better word) ownership, by stroking her hair, and offering to be put to work. Anyman with sense isn’t going to be that familiar openly with a woman, infront of her. “companion” is how he would’ve justified it in his mind, and offer to be so useful, ie going down the rope with the guy who’s gf you just fooled around with. If there were ANY possible thought that we just stole another mans girlfriend, wife, s/o because of repercussions. We’re MEN! So either Calebe was a dumb clueless hick, or his time, watching them b4 joining thier group or after being with them he deemed it as a non issue. Yes they were sleeping in same room together, Calebe could’ve rationalized it was just her safety net untill he could be trusted. Sorry Grammer, wrote in a rush on a phone, sorry about length also.

  7. Cristina

    After I saw the movie the first thing I did is type “Did Caleb die?” But I think I already knew the answer to this question. I could find a million ways to defend Zachariah or to describe him as a good guy but in the end I think we all know that he did kill Caleb. I mean, why would Caleb just go? When I saw their faces I expected smth to happen but when they didn’t show us I waited to see what’s next. Zachariah tells Ann that Caleb left……and that left me baffled. He couldn’t just leave. But then again Zachariah doesn’t seem a killer but once you remember all the puzzles showed to you from the beginning you start to realize that he actually did. We see him as a bad person. At the beginning of the movie I couldn’t understand why he looked twice to her brother’s picture. That was the most important piece of the puzzle. Everything is connected, every word, look, sound and the fact the things were not told to us. They just gave us the pieces of the puzzle and told us how to get it together, the viewers are the ones that will have to do the work in the end.

  8. Keisha

    Well, I think what ever happened to Caleb he deserved, first of all he was sneaking around spying on Ann (spying on Ann at the church) my guess to find out who and what was going on, second when Zachariah had a proper hold on him while he was slipping off the cliff, look at the way he watched him, like “I have won this battle” he is in my opinion not trustworthy, just look at the way he ask question and in turn twist it around while in conversation with Ann.

  9. Clark Torres

    I guess the first moment Loomis holding a rope while Caleb is hanging Caleb think Loomis would let go the rope but at the second time Loomis saved him again he realize Loomis is a good man and Loomis and Zachariah would be happy without him and he knows Loomis is the first, i guess as payback Caleb confess of what happened between him and Zachariah and he choose to leave Loomis and Zachariah and he use the suit to get get away.

  10. Clark Torres

    I guess the first moment Loomis holding a rope while Caleb is hanging Caleb think Loomis would let go the rope but at the second time Loomis saved him again he realize Loomis is a good man and Loomis and Zachariah would be happy without him and he knows Loomis is the first, i guess as payback Caleb confess of what happened between him and Zachariah and he choose to leave Loomis and Zachariah and he use the suit to get get away and Loomis lied to Zachariah about Caleb.

  11. Bernie

    All this talk about a character named Zachariah… Aren’t the three characters John, Anna, and Caleb? Who is Zacheriah? From the comments above some of you refer to John as Zacheriah some refer to Anna as Zacheriah.

    • Taylor Holmes

      Yeah, I think I jacked it up a bit throughout the writing of my post. Somehow I keep thinking Mr. Lummis’ (John’s) name was Zachariah… or something. Definitely all my fault. Sorry for the confusion Bernie. When you write as many words on so many different topics one is bound to get a little confused. Thanks for your patience!

      Also, Gary contacted me directly and convinced me that Mr. Loomis most likely killed Caleb… so I rewatched the movie, and sure enough, it all adds up. I know that a number of you on the comments rolled that way too. I read through your comments and rejigged my three theories a bit, and threw my weight behind the final theory. So, thanks everyone for educating me in a bunch of different ways about this movie. I don’t always get it right straight out of the gate. So I appreciate the help!

      • TONY

        I think he may have killed him, just letting go of the rope on the second slip, isn’t the way I think it wouldve happened. To much thought energy went into that wheel, they had to take materials disassembling a church she loved. Or thought she did, he’s an engineer he would’ve know the chance a destroying a chuck of his wheel minutes after its completed over jealously?

  12. Hazel

    So I got that Loomis killed Caleb, but Caleb was in a radiation suit – so how exactly did he die? Was the suit not full proof or did it get cut on the rocks? Or did Caleb die some other way? Also, if he fell, wouldn’t he have damaged the water wheel? Or did Loomis drag Caleb up again and they had a different sort of confrontation where Caleb died?

    • Taylor Holmes

      Oh I just assumed that the fall killed him. It was a long way down. I fell only 15 feet off my roof and busted both legs, snapped an ACL. 3 surgeries later…

      But with regards to damaging the waterwheel that is a good question. When Anna looks in the freezer, to be completely honest, I wasn’t 100% what she determined from that test. Was something missing? Was she checking to see if it wasn’t working. Or was she validating that waterwheel was working? (That’s what I assumed). Good question Hazel. Anyone else got any ideas?

      • SP

        I don’t think it was that complicated; Unless I am not remembering correctly…

        I think she hears the refrigerator’s motor start running; She opens it to see; she then checks the lights in the house as a secondary confirmation of power.

      • taylor

        Yeah SP,
        that actually makes sense. Validating that the power is on seems like the simplest of options there. But you know me! I like to over complicate everything. Hahah. So, if she was just checking to see if the power was working… then what does that mean about what she was thinking? Was she thinking that they had fought, and the wheel would be the recipient of their angst? Or maybe it was more about the fact that she was worried about an accident that would have destroyed the wheel? Hrm. Seems like the freezer door held a lot of latent meaning that I didn’t initially grasp. But makes sense though that it was just an initial check on the wheel.


  13. Joshua

    I think the book and the movie differ because of the creators. The scene with John and Caleb at the end happens in every dualistic movie scene but the director spared us the typical carnage. OR: Caleb was telling John that it was time for him to let him go. That the work was done and John needed to focus on Anna now. I think he really did leave with the suit and John was depressed over losing his buddy. Either way, It was such a tender movie,why ruin it with violence. It was pretty clear that Anna felt rejected physically by John and when he continued to push her away she was tempted to gain acceptance from another. John doesn’t seem controlling, he is insecure.. and that may be because of the girl in the picture! Great Movie! Great Conversation about it! I think at the movies end they both missed Caleb.. It was sad that three people couldn’t overcome their personal demons in order to live together. I think Caleb tested John at the end to show John some things man to man. John helped Caleb and Caleb helped John. Anna was just a simple girl who lived by what she was taught. She was caught up in a tough spot, But the movie wasn’t about her. The movie was about people helping each other through hard times.

  14. Dex

    This is one of those few movies that left me thinking deeply about the what ifs and what could’ve beens even a few days after I’ve watched it…

    True to the author, googling about what happened on the end brought me here.

    Well, I ‘m not yet really convinced on the possible 3 theories presented (sorry) since I feel that there are still small details in the movie that was left hanging and that I feel like points to what happened in the end, at least, I think.

    Caleb truly did leave. Even though I’ve read in the interview from the director which he admitted that the movie was really heavily implying that John/Mr. loomis killed him. Let me explain the plausibility of my conclusion…

    * Mr. Loomis character is generally a good man. First, even though he may have all the means to force himself to Ann he did not do that. Except the night he was drunk to which he genuinely apologized the next day. Second, he did not take advantage of Ann during one of her more vulnerable moments (she being tipsy) instead Mr. Loomis suggested that they give it time for their bond to naturally grow since its the only thing abundantly available for them. Third, he respected Ann’s decision not to use her father’s church building to be used to build the water generator. Fourth, he admitted on possibly killing Ann’s brother even though it may have changed the way Ann looks at him. Lastly, like what the others pointed here… Mr. Loomis did not hesitate to help Caleb during the 2 times he almost fell. I guess its during at that moment that Caleb realized that mr. Loomis has no intention of harming him and decided he better off finding her own eden or eve for that matter.

    * Other factors that I think would help make this alternative plausible is that:
    1. If it were true that mr. Loomis killed Caleb then the water generator structure would have been destroyed since the wood plank is directly below Caleb during that scene.

    2. Remember the scene after the breakfast when Caleb and Ann made love the nigh before and both continued finishing the water generator? Mr. Loomis came out in the open and told Caleb that she told Ann to do all things necessary to keep him from leaving which made Caleb thinking that probably Ann doesn’t really like him more than mr. Loomis

    Other observations:
    * I think the real bad guy here is Caleb. He spied on the first parts of the film
    and worked his way to manipulate Ann to like him more.
    * Ann was torn between love and lust?

    • Mike

      Loomis lied to Caleb about telling ann to do whatever it took and Caleb called Loomis out on it, that Loomis is jealous, which is correct

  15. Donn

    If John did not kill Caleb then the only other plausible possibility is that they had a really deep talk about which one of them should leave and Caleb decided to leave. Doubtful i think. In the end it was a matter of both jealously and self preservation. The jealously, he “found” her first and thought that he had the time to take it slow and so did’nt seal the deal so to speak. You don’t know what you have until it’s gone. The arrival of Caleb ruins his idilic vision of the future with Ann. Self preservation, it would be kill or be killed unless John would be willing to walk away. i Think the smile on Caleb’s face says it all. You let go now or i kill you later as he had no intention of leaving and neither man wanted to give up the affections of Ann. In the end one of them could have walked away but then you would always have the thought in the back of your head that the other was just waiting for a chance to kill you.

  16. DrMichaelUSMC

    I was excited to see they had made a movie of one of my favorite novels. I approached it almost with reverence, albeit with some trepidation that they might veer from the original subject matter. When I saw the promo picture, I knew something was amiss, for there were only two characters in the novel. I had hopes the damage was not too severe, but the moving and elegantly written novel was completely eviscerated, and there was little to enjoy, aside from the scenery, in this sad knockoff. That is not to say that the actors were not good in their roles, they acted their parts as given to them, but the screenplay had none of the grit, drama, or faith of the original. Anne’s faith in God and her relationship with Him was trivialized and mocked, rather than being central to her strength and survival. John was not nearly as developed as he was in the novel, and became almost charming. His intent on furthering the human race at any cost was actually reversed, and Anne was subjected to none of the grief and adventure which were to result in the final catharsis of the novel. Not that that matters, that choice was never even made in the movie. All tragedies were averted, and nothing can be learned from the resultant saccharine and weak version we have been given. Heck, even her dog survived. Changing John’s race and Anne’s age were poor decisions that confused the relationship and interaction between these two characters, and adding Caleb distracted from and marred the beauty and intent of the original storyline. The adaptation was painful to watch, and I am looking forward to reading the novel again so that I might forget this inept fumbling of what had been great literature. It is a real travesty, as the original story was something to move the soul. Two thumbs down.

    • Taylor

      Hey there Dr. Mike
      I was very forthright in my reading the book after seeing the movie. And yes, you are right, it was beautiful in its poetry and in its evocatively stark landscape. But having come to it second I was biased by what I had already seen. Anyway, these two experiences are entirely other. Like the difference between The Prestige movie and the Prestige book. Completely and totally different.

      The movie takes on gender age and race issues. That just isn’t how it went down in the book. It also attempted the contemplative feel of the book, but just adding one more person is just so so significant.

      I’m personally curious why everyone isn’t up in arms about the ending of the movie and “African American Stereotypes?” Maybe it’s because it was explicitly stated. But it was there none the less. Anyway, back to your point. I adored the movie and appreciate a smaller scale Vista’d movie more than most. But you are right. If you held the book in such high regards it would be hard to consume it separately. Not that you should. But that would be the only way to really enjoy this as it is as opposed to assuming it’s the book you loved.

      Sorry you didn’t like it. But I get it. Hey Mike, can you name other books like this that were in this same level of thoughtfulness and evocativeness? Like maybe McCarthy’s the Road perhaps? Or I Am Legend? Or? Love books in this space…

      Thanks in advance.

  17. Matt

    I’ll add my two cents work. Regarding the final scene, the tune she plays is slow and somber, like the tune you might hear at a funeral. The camera pans with
    John in shot, and behind him, at a certain angle, the bench bares the striking resemblence to a coffin. Symbolising Caleb’s death at John’s hands?

    • Taylor

      Totally. That makes perfect sense. And I totally agree that he had to have died. But what happened, do you think, to his extra suit, and his little mobile home? Did he just dump them?

  18. sloth

    I’m impressed with the insights in this review. And also those of IG. This movie evoked so much emotion in me. I was actually upset by it very deeply because of how much I don’t like it when people who have entered a relationship with one person are untrue in any way. And my wife thinks I just didn’t like the movie… But I actually loved it. I have to salute how evocative and well-made/acted it was. I mean how often do I feel so much after a movie, and think about it for days… in this age when most movies feel to me like junk made to fill consumers need for shallow thrills. It’s just amazing how uncomfortable I was the whole time. I think it resonated because of how hard it is to trust people in real life, let alone how much more difficult it would be in a post-apocalyptic setting. The movie made you guess who was trustworthy based on such subtle glances and circumstantial details. In the end, it makes you swallow the same pill you end up swallowing in real life… no one is truly safe… anyone can hurt you.
    Anyway, what I commented to say was this. The existence of the harsh world outside the safe zone signifies some kind of chaotic evil. Anything that survives out there must have made some serious compromises to what might be considered ethical and moral in order to survive. That said, Caleb’s story about what happened in the mine didn’t feel right. Miners tearing one another apart and him being the only one left lacked clarity and logic. The motives of the miners didn’t seem sound. His story was also told in such a cool collected way, and his looks around the table were those of false self-victimization. I might not assume this if he wasn’t so manipulative the whole time.
    Every social action he took seemed designed to get what he wanted, and drive John and Ann apart. The way he lured her out… the way he made comments at the dinner table concerning John’s feelings about the church, putting Ann at odds with John. And how he used claims of himself being religious to draw closer to Ann, and alienate John. His challenging looks at john and inflammatory comments throughout the film showed an aggressive, selfish spirit, ready to cause more conflict in the last safe haven of the planet rather than try to help and be self-sacrificing for the sake of peace.
    I think Caleb and John are both broken, corrupt beings, though I was rooting for John. John killed Caleb, but Caleb was shown to be a dangerous creature himself, who only needed time to show his true colors. The story just had him dead before he could.

  19. Nikki Thomason

    I just watched the movie on Netflix, then quickly walked to my laptop and typed in Google, “In Z for Zachariah does John know that Ann figured out he killed Caleb?”
    It was apparent to me that Caleb was shifty and John didn’t believe a single word of his story.
    I believe that Ann knew that John killed Caleb but it was her” cross to bear” to stay with him and restart the human race by having his child. Two tainted humans (jJohn murdering Caleb, and Ann betraying John by having sex with Caleb) in the Garden of Eden at the end of the world.
    John did tell Ann that it was okay with him if she experimented with Caleb. But did he really mean it?
    This movie left me with so many questions at the end! That’s the sign of an excellent film!

  20. John Paul

    Put the book out of your mind – it only serves to confuse any thoughts about the movie which is admittedly only inspired by the book. It is a new movie story inspired in a few respects by the book. Any good person who has become very attracted to, or fallen in love with, someone who is already deeply loved by another very good person (especially a good person to whom you end up owing a lot) knows how the story ended. That is why the movie made it obvious, just before their final trip to the waterfall, that Caleb knew the truth behind John’s attempt to hide his love for Ann. The movie in no way made Caleb out to be anything but very smart. So he voluntarily puts his life in the hands (holding the rope) of a man he knows loves Ann – I think not, makes no sense unless Caleb knows without a doubt the goodness of John. Except for one understandable minor drunken slip (no rape, no physical harm), the whole movie cements the very good character of John. When John chooses to save Caleb from falling for the SECOND time, Caleb knows what he owes John and Ann – to leave the scene, which he obviously does. It would have hurt everyone much too much for Caleb to go back and say goodbye, he simply had to leave without a word. I’ve seen it happen in novels, movies, and, more importantly, in life, which is why I choose to see it this way.

    • Alex

      I felt like I should comment so as tovoice the very opinion you have already written. Thank you for saving me a little time. And truthfully, I had never read the book so I had no idea about the change in John’s character, and I definitely felt like he was a good dude in the film (despite the one drunken slip). I mean maybe this P.O.V. is naive, but I don’t think so. My initial thought when I first saw the two male protagonists make eye contact at the waterfall as Caleb is slipping, right before the shot cuts to Ann, the eye contact was recognition of the fact that Caleb’s life was in his (John’s) hands and having realized this still pulled him to his safety at which point Caleb, out of sheer respect for the goodness of John, did flee. And I think very few people seem to see the significance of John praying at the end. I think this is mostly due to the fact that people are viewing it as though John killed Caleb, so he must be praying to repent. They seem to forget that it was firmly cemented in stone that John was not a man of faith. Sure he almost acted like he was praying when he felt like the odd atheist out at the dinner table…but he was firmly an atheist…and him praying at the end is a huge character development…regardless of whether his motive behind the prayer is to repent for the murder he just committed, or just to pray for whatever reason. If our theory is correct, then John has found the faith needed to survive that Caleb said was needed. Not that I think you need faith…that’s not my point. I think that faith was morseo needed for the love between John and Ann to survive. Idk. Could be wrong. If John had only prayed at the end I wouldn’t see much significance to it. But the fact that literally the last time we see John he is praying, added to the previous scene where he had gone and contemplated at the skeletal remains of the of the church…plus the comment of Caleb to Ann at the Cave, adds up to me. Just my thoughts. Regardless of the whole prayer bit…I still think you’re theory holds the most salt based off the film alone.

  21. SA

    Great review and great theories in the comments section as well especially by IG. But I have to 100% agree with Dex’s conclusion. Also In regards to Matt’s comment Ann is playing the same tune at the end of the movie as the one she plays earlier in the movie in the chapel. Having read the book in middle school I was very surprised about how different the book and movie are. My question about the movie is what happened to Ann’s dog? It disappears and is never seen again after the scene where it finds Caleb?

    • John Paul

      I agree, I think that here that Joshua, Dex, and maybe one other had it right first – Caleb voluntarily left the scene. Makes perfect sense in accordance with character, dialogue, and action clues given in the movie.

  22. AnarchAL

    Nah I suspect complete divergence. The book is a horror story which horror movie fans simply aren’t interested in. Yet the writers of the movie were inspired by the underlying themes of it and what else could be done with them, so they changed it entirely. The movie Loomis is a good person. A little troubled maybe (as anyone is) but far better of a man than could be expected of most men in his situation.

    Caleb slips near the end twice and Loomis breaks a massive sweat saving his life as he has no interest in letting him die and further damaging his already strained relationship with Anne. I think the movie Loomis actually loves Anne enough, and cares about human survival enough, that he truly is, as he says he is, “okay” with her choosing Caleb over him.

    Caleb is overcome with guilt when he realizes this as well after Loomis saves his life and basically offers his wife and land to him, and doesn’t want to get in the middle of that (especially when you think years into the future how Anne would get when it became clear which one was REALLY making sure the lights stay on), so he insisted on leaving, but he couldn’t bring himself to face Anne because… Reasons? That part kinda throws me off to be honest…

    Anyways, good movie! I wasn’t sure if I liked it until I found this page and it got me thinking!

  23. Neil

    I really enjoyed this movie. Great acting, and great mindfullness of the movie. I so fully loved your review and have so thought that he killed Caleb as well. But I’m torn 50/50 with the ending. You noticed that the wheel that was built was not damaged in any way, shape, or form. Other than that, I’ve so enjoyed reading your review lots, as well as all of the comments of others.

  24. Eric

    I loved this movie as well and googled for an explanation immediately after it ended! My impression of the last third of the film was that Loomis killed Caleb and Caleb and the girl had to come to terms with it. Or there could be some other possible explanation 🙂

  25. Zoe U

    I have enjoyed reading all these theories of how things ended. Perhaps the sign of a great movie, that both alternatives make sense.
    John is not completely good, there are signs that he puts self preservation ahead of what’s best for humanity. He could not be as hospitable towards Caleb as he had been shown by Ann. He feared Caleb would take from him that which was always Ann’s. Perhaps Caleb didn’t shoot John when they went hunting as he was cocky enough to think he would ultimately succeed as the better suitor for Ann. John knew that even after professing his love to Ann she was quickly won over by Caleb. It makes sense that he may have choosen in that moment to let go of the rope and return himself to a position of security with Ann. John standing on the edge of the waterfall suggested to me he was contemplating suicide- perhaps he felt wretched for taking the life of a man who had simply arrived second in time but no different than him.
    Caleb seemed intelligent enough to realise that 3 was a crowd and that Ann was virtuous and would feel guilty if she were to continue a relationship with him to the exclusion of John. It is very possible that he vulunteered to move on rather than there be an inevitable showdown. Perhaps he recognised Johns desperate love of Ann and the farm. Clearly the water wheel did not get broken and his belongings were gone. The suit for the girl perhaps was an excellent trade off in a radioactive world.

  26. Mare

    I agree with you in that I was absolutely riveted by this movie. The acting was superb all the way around — every glance, touch, and hesitant silence conveyed just volumes. Those top-notch performances made it fascinating to watch the interplay between these three characters. And the quiet, slow-burn pace only added to the feeling of paranoia and impending doom. It felt like watching a freight train approaching in slow motion, while being pinned to the tracks. Yet in all honesty, I can’t even imagine what it would be like to find yourself in that scenario. For me, this movie is an illustration of the way natural human emotions and jealousies confound our progress forward. I don’t see either of the male characters as completely bad or completely good — just flawed, victims of their own individual weakness, and competing for what may as well (and could very well) be the last woman on earth. I fully believe that Mr. Loomis kills Caleb at the end, and disposes of the evidence. I think his reasons for doing this are extremely complex — but they boil down to wanting Ann for himself, wanting the “alpha male” role for himself, completely recognizing that Caleb is a better match, and wondering how in the world he’s supposed to exist in that little farmhouse with all the love/attention/power subtly shifted in Caleb’s favor. So he “re-shifts” things, by force. We know Mr. Loomis has this in him, because he admitted to killing Ann’s brother. What I’m not sure of — not 100%, anyway — is whether Ann suspects the real truth at the end. I’m pretty sure she does. The fragile trust between them has already been fractured, but this would shatter it completely. And yet there they are, stuck together at the end of the world — his brains, her heart and spirit. I thought the fact that Mr. Loomis comes to her in the makeshift “church” he created in the barn was doubly powerful. There he sits in the pew, a man of science; and there she sits at the organ, a woman of faith. And where can they really go from there? He knows he doesn’t truly have her heart, and I believe he understands that murdering Caleb was utterly wrong (as evidenced by the way he dangles his toes over the cliff experimentally, toward the end). She knows he killed her brother, and (I believe) she knows or suspects he killed Caleb. Such a horrible human tragedy in the midst of their newfound electricity, which should be a celebratory moment (and which Caleb helped make a reality). These two flawed-but-not-truly-bad characters, stuck together with this terrible awareness between them, and what will happen next?

    • Zoe U

      Sadly, I think Ann suspected murder over abandonment. What a terrible burden for her. She was given verbal “permission” to explore her sexualality but was she really?
      A few people have mentioned the age and race contentions, but I also saw a gender contention. If there had been 2 female and 1 male survivour, would it all have turned out differently. History suggests so. Would have the man expected both women and would the women have been convinced that ditching the concept of monogamy be better for procreation by expanding the gene pool?

      • Mare

        One quick thing I wanted to mention/add regarding the title of this film. A lot of viewers seem to label the lead/Mr. Loomis character as “Zachariah.” His first name is actually John — in fact, I do not believe anyone refers to him as “Zachariah” throughout the length of the film. Once scene focuses pretty heavily on that book entitled “A for Adam.” I just thought it was worth mentioning that in scripture, the “Book of Zachariah” (or more properly, Zechariah in most translations) is a book foretelling the coming apocalypse and describing the quality of life God wants his renewed people to enjoy. So in faith-based terms (i.e., Ann’s terms), I took the film’s title as indicating the fact that Mr. Loomis (in certain ways) was representative of Adam. He had a chance to enjoy all that was placed before him until an element of temptation (Caleb) appeared on the scene. From there, human nature took over and, essentially, desecrated Eden.

      • Mare

        Yes! Your comment on gender resonates on a huge level. Watching this, a couple of my female friends (and even my own husband) said “Wouldn’t it be funny if they took the reverse ‘Sister Wives’ approach?” But another (male) friend challenged with “Why would that seem funny?” In talking about it, we realized our cultural/societal expectations don’t go both ways. Multiple wives was actually commonplace in Biblical times, and it’s accepted in certain cultures and societal segments (not to mention animal populations) to this day. Multiple husbands?? That doesn’t even happen in the animal kingdom unless the female kills or first abandons another mate for someone more “alpha.” 😉 So I’m not sure the exact same scenario would have taken place, but I personally suspect that the same types of human jealousies and efforts for domination may have shown up eventually.

    • Zoe U

      Noone else has mentioned it, but what did you make of Ann slowly pushing the half full/half empty glass off the table?
      To me she was regretting having made this companion, and then the power came on.

      • Mare

        Personally, I took it as a sign that she suspected (maybe even just subconsciously) that Caleb had been pushed somehow. Although the fact that she was using a Bible to push it off the table could have meant she was reflecting (maybe now bitterly, or with resignation) on her own belief that God uses all humans and situations as tools/objects/pawns for some greater purpose beyond human understanding.

      • Leilani

        About the Symbolism of Ann pushing the glass of water off the table with the book. And what happened to Caleb in the end. Also symbolism.

        John is often seen In the library and reading books – he is a learned man – represented by the book. The first time we meet Caleb he asks Ann for a glass of water, he is a tall glass of water ha ha. Ann shows him where the water is in the house, they make love in the bathroom and there are 3 glasses on the dining table showing the awkwardness of Caleb’s arrival when John and Ann talk privately trying still to deal with their own new relationship.

        In the scene where Ann is clearly upset over Caleb’s ‘departure’ when we see her pushing the glass of water off the edge of the table with a book shows her knowing and replaying what John did in letting Caleb ‘fall’ off the top of the waterfall.

        When John told Ann that Caleb had left she ran up the mountain to check the road leaving the valley. She knew she wouldn’t see him but she had to check for herself. She knew he was dead.

        This is also proved by the stories the two men tell at their first shared meal.

        John tells a mostly true story about the young boy he met on the road and in his later second re-telling confesses the terrible truth to Ann that he shot Ann’s brother and is forgiven by Ann, as he was for his drunk behaviour.

        When Caleb arrives he claims all the family men he had been down in the mine with had all left to go on top and that hunger forced him out. In his supposed confessional at the meal he then says the four older family men fought amongst themselves because one of them got paranoid and wanted to get out and that they killed each other with their bare hands and that the big but last man standing, the crazy big gentle man was about to kill him too – but Caleb says the man just backed down to Caleb’s stare and later died of undetermined cause. I believe Caleb didn’t tell the truth here and John suspected this initially but go distracted by jealousy. I believe John’s true confessional in the next scene is contrasted with Caleb’s half confessional in this scene.

        But on top of the waterfall when John saves Caleb twice and then Caleb gives John a similar powerful look of “you won’t kill me” John remembers again his gut feeling that Caleb stared down the last remaining big guy and let himself out of the mine. John realises that if he doesn’t let Caleb fall he will destroy everything between him and Ann and possibly kill him as he did the other 4 miners. But it’s not in his nature which is why it doesn’t occur to him to do it until having saved Caleb two times first.

        Later a guilty John wants to jump off the waterfall too but then goes to the church, and decides to bring the organ and some pews to make a church for Ann in the barn, this is his act of penance just as Ann had asked for forgiveness that morning over sleeping with Caleb.

        As John and Ann have done throughout the film in this last scene they continue to forgive each other and to try please the other – both are considerate unlike the selfish Caleb. John clasping his hands in a prayer-like request for forgiveness stance in the end scene in ‘Ann’s church’ shows that her forgiveness and approval is his religion. He too has faith – faith in her for the future and that their survival and his “reason” for living is her and he begs for her forgiveness by just entering and sitting in her church; just as Ann’s faith and reason to live is to do God’ will. John comes to her church to be forgiven – and he will be.

      • Leilani

        About the Symbolism of Ann pushing the glass of water off the table with the book. And what happened to Caleb in the end. Also symbolism.

        John is often seen In the library and reading books – he is a learned man – represented by the book. The first time we meet Caleb he asks Ann for a glass of water, he is a tall glass of water ha ha. Ann shows him where the water is in the house, they make love in the bathroom and there are 3 glasses on the dining table showing the awkwardness of Caleb’s arrival when John and Ann talk privately trying still to deal with their own new relationship.

        In the scene where Ann is clearly upset over Caleb’s ‘departure’ when we see her pushing the glass of water off the edge of the table with a book shows her knowing and replaying what John did in letting Caleb ‘fall’ off the top of the waterfall.

        When John told Ann that Caleb had left she ran up the mountain to check the road leaving the valley. She knew she wouldn’t see him but she had to check for herself. She knew he was dead.

        This is also proved by the stories the two men tell at their first shared meal.

        John tells a mostly true story about the young boy he met on the road and in his later second re-telling confesses the terrible truth to Ann that he shot Ann’s brother and is forgiven by Ann, as he was for his drunk behaviour.

        When Caleb arrives he claims all the family men he had been down in the mine with had all left to go on top and that hunger forced him out. In his supposed confessional at the meal he then says the four older family men fought amongst themselves because one of them got paranoid and wanted to get out and that they killed each other with their bare hands and that the big but last man standing, the crazy big gentle man was about to kill him too – but Caleb says the man just backed down to Caleb’s stare and later died of undetermined cause. I believe Caleb didn’t tell the truth here and John suspected this initially but go distracted by jealousy. I believe John’s true confessional in the next scene is contrasted with Caleb’s half confessional in this scene.

        But on top of the waterfall when John saves Caleb twice and then Caleb gives John a similar powerful look of “you won’t kill me” John remembers again his gut feeling that Caleb stared down the last remaining big guy and let himself out of the mine. John realises that if he doesn’t let Caleb fall he will destroy everything between him and Ann and possibly kill him as he did the other 4 miners. But it’s not in his nature which is why it doesn’t occur to him to do it until having saved Caleb two times first.

        Later a guilty John wants to jump off the waterfall too but then goes to the church, and decides to bring the organ and some pews to make a church for Ann in the barn, this is his act of penance just as Ann had asked for forgiveness that morning over sleeping with Caleb.

        As John and Ann have done throughout the film in this last scene they continue to forgive each other and to try please the other – both are considerate unlike the selfish Caleb. John clasping his hands in a prayer-like request for forgiveness stance in the end scene in ‘Ann’s church’ shows that her forgiveness and approval is his religion. He too has faith – faith in her for the future and that their survival and his “reason” for living is her and he begs for her forgiveness by just entering and sitting in her church; just as Ann’s faith and reason to live is to do God’ will. John comes to her church to be forgiven – and he will be.

  27. Taylor Holmes

    Holy Crap.
    You guys are going to town… and they are such good insights. I particularly liked your comment Mare, about the meaning of Zachariah and the Biblical insights and meaning for the movie. Really cool. But I dug the gender comments and heck, all of you have been really adding a lot to my understanding of the movie. I don’t really feel like I have a ton to add, but I wanted to say that I’ve been reading all the same. So, Thanks!


  28. 1+1=2

    why did caleb die. i hate this movie. they should’ve all just died and left the dog and cows living.

    • Kim34

      LOL 1+1=2!! I do totally agree. This movie is a waste of time. Time, I’ll never be able to get back. ugh

  29. Tony

    First off, I loved the movie and the acting was excellent. Immediately following the movie, like most of us in here, I was torn between whether or not Loomis had indeed killed Caleb. After reading some of the great insights above, I remembered a scene between Loomis and Caleb and I came to the conclusion that Loomis did in fact kill Caleb because Caleb had no intentions of leaving. When Caleb and Loomis were finishing the final touches on the wheel, Caleb laughed after Loomis told him that he was never a threat and Caleb replied that jealousy didn’t suit him. Loomis then asked, ” What about Hansen”? (Hansen was the city that Caleb was originally on his way to) Caleb then answered Loomis, “I don’t know sir. Like you said, there probably isn’t anything down there anyway”. That would indicate Caleb had no desire to leave.
    That’s my theory. Now I can sleep tonight.

    • Penny

      I totally agree. After Caleb’s comments there is very little chance he would just up and leave for Ansen.

      I believe Loomis did kill Caleb. He did unclip the rope from the anchor point before Caleb was even safely away from the ledge. You just don’t do something like that if you care for the other persons safety!

      I know a few people are saying that the water structures were not damaged so Caleb must have left. I believe it’s possible for Caleb to fall in such a way as to not damage these.

  30. Zoe U

    The choice of character names also seems deliberate.
    Caleb- one of Moses’ spies sent into Canaan to see if it was as God promised. The other spies saw it was inhabited by giants and their fear led to the 40 years of wondering. Caleb challenged the others and this was seen as faithful, but he still wondered the desert with the others for 40 years. His faith was later rewarded as only Joshua and Caleb survived the desert and lived to enter the promised land after 40 years of wandering.

    John- the Apostle- was initially a resourceful, self sufficient fisherman. He was called to faith and was the longest surviving apostle and died peacefully in old age. He is said to have been the NT prophet and author of Revalations.

    Anna was also a NT prophetess. She was widowed young and though expected to remarry, instead stayed single and spent her life preaching to anyone including men which went against those times.

  31. Luana

    I liked everything you all have contributed on your comments; it really helped me to understand the parts of the movie that left me wondering, so thank you for all for that. I loved the movie in every way but there were 2 characters at the beginning: “Anna and the DOG” (remember that animals are very important when telling a story) and “that dog” added tons of weight to the film and for us to understand Anna and the idea that that dog was the centre of Anna’s’ survival and sanity. I accept that in a situation like Anna is you will miss other people but a dog is a great source of companionship, empathy and stability. Anna talks to the dog, they both had a relationship…he is the one that find John… then is the dog that finds Caleb…and after that the dog is gone!!… Never to be seen again!!!….what a dull thing to do to A character. And then it happens to Caleb too, he just disappears at the end form the movie letting everyone wondering (which is ok because it has all the impact to make the movie much interesting) but WHERE IS THE DOG?? (here I laugh because I am not that crazy about animals, I don’t even have a dog but I wanted to said it as it was bothering me, haha!) Cheers 😉

  32. plane

    hello! i have a question here, that I feel has not been addressed, and maybe in analyzing it – might provide some more insight to what may/may not have actually happened in the conclusion of this wonderful film. during their first shared meal, caleb and john share the experiences of their impasses. john is the only one to admit that his trial ended in murder. which makes one question, what really happened in the situation described by caleb? was he actually the man trying to break free from the mine, and killed all his companions? did he somehow plant the seed of doubt in said miner, causing this dispute, only so he could stand on the sidelines to accumulate: more air, more supplies/resources .. meat? — only to look at this man, in his dying rage who knows that he was a pawn. is this a foreshadowing of an iago taunting and thus destroying othello?

    i find that the sharing of these stories was a way for the men to alleviate their sin(s), but to also demonstrate their strength through the words not spoken/reality implied. john killed a child, already the victim of radiation. caleb took down four men, how? that’s what i am certainly wondering. it was a way for them to lay their cards on the table.

    that being said, i do think that caleb died in the end. before reading all the responses, i felt almost sad for him — and was completely confounded (and still am) by the “smugness” of his face. but now, i don’t know. the death of the one or the other was inevitable, either in a terminal sense, or the expelling from the property.

    caleb was also more than willing to help and encourage the building of the water wheel, he knew, like john, that they would need each other to build it, and maybe he hoped in seducing anne, he would enjoy the results at the misfortune of john.

  33. kurt nasse

    I found the following post on another site and think it is more than plausible:

    John did not killed Caleb, he saved him once and save him again when Caleb tried to fall on purpose. He wanted to test how good John was, Caleb did a creepy smirk the second time John was trying to pull him and that means that he understand that John was trustworthy and more deserving than himself. They both moved the piano then Caleb left, he left because John convinced him that he wasn’t good for Ann. John was heartbroken after Ann went out to find Caleb so he went to the fountain then jumped. Ann saw him and was sad from what happened (she pushed the glass from the table part). Last part was John’s soul watching Ann playing the piano. John looked happy, Caleb unknown, Ann lonely for being alone again. This is how I see what happened.

  34. Char

    Just another interpretation: Since most people want to believe that he died, no one seems to have thought about the fact that the first time Caleb fell, it was extremely hard for John to pull Caleb back up. He doubled check to make sure Caleb was safe. The second time Caleb slips, he is in a worse position to be pulled back to safety. What if John tried pulling him back up and just managed to not be able to do so. This still doesn’t explain the water wheel being completely fine and the power working since the fridge is still on. However, John may have thought it was easier to lie to Ann about Caleb since telling her the “possible” truth wouldn’t have helped anyways. She blindly fell in love with the guy who initially manipulated the situation to begin with, so she is favoring Caleb not John at this point. Does anyone remember the prayer she made in the beginning to keep John alive and she would serve God for the rest of her days. As soon as she slips up (gets tempted) by the “snake” aka Caleb, then Ann aka Eve’s religion goes out the window where she no longer cares about the church being torn down. Also, John being weak just like Adam is a great analogy. He constantly fell weak with drinking and jealousy but apologized. Even the biggest truth of showing John’s loyalty was when he admitted to killing a boy that begged to be killed. He never had to mention that truth if he was a manipulator, he could have chosen silence or a lie over the truth. In a different perspective Caleb could be an average guy that is just trying to ease his way into someone’s home because its post-apocalyptic times, but he does a lot of subtle clues throughout the movie to sway Ann away and not even in a honest way. Just my two cents.

  35. Shun

    “I mean, what would you think if you were the last woman on earth. Never mind the fact that Mr. Loomis is an older black male. Never mind the fact that the two of you are absolutely nothing alike in any respect.”

    First of all, I’m not black. What’s wrong with a relationship between a black guy and a white girl? You seem to be implying that it’s a problem in its own right, like not having anything in common..
    Might want to hide the undercurrent of racism in your reviews better in future, pal.

    • Zoe U

      I never got the impression that implied the coupling was something wrong but rather that there was undeniable diversity between them in age, in culture, in gender and this brings complexities on top of the trauma of a holocaust

    • Taylor Holmes

      I guess that sounded racist? I suppose. If you are looking for it. I agree with Zoe, that was not my intent. I was only trying to point out, that both characters have a responsibility to all of humanity. To move past their age, race, intellectual and class differences. And now if you think I’m belittling John’s class, quite the opposite. He is obviously her intellectual superior. He is obviously her class superior. He’s a well educated scientist who had been doing critically important work. While she was a farm girl just trying to survive. And whoops now I am sexist.

      I’m sorry, but nuancing can just become overly tedious. My only point here is just how high these barriers seem. Insurmountable even. And yet, so important for them to move beyond. And like us, our barriers between each other you, Mr Shun, and myself. And yet, shouldn’t we do everything imaginable to overcome them? Shouldn’t you and I go have a beer and work it out as opposed to just wandering off and allowing the difference to remain? THAT! That is what I was getting at. It’s a marvelous analogy of what we should each do personally. What survival here on planet earth really requires, but rarely ever happens.

  36. M

    This was messing with me so was excited about the link to the time interview… They said:
    So, I have to ask: Did John drop Caleb?

    Zobel: I think you know.

    I think he does…

    Zobel: Yeah. I feel like it’s heavily hinted at.

    Definitely, but I did leave wondering if maybe he did decide, It’s too crazy, I’m just gonna hit the road.

    Ejiofor: That’s not a terrible thing to think. I think it’s slated one way, heavier in one direction than the other.

    Zobel: Sure. Because you don’t get that moment, you’re allowed to have hope.

    Do you think Ann knows?

    Ejiofor: She’s gotta be deeply suspicious either way. The real thing is what they can rebuild—and if they can. Or is there a point where she does drive him off the land. Is that in their future? Or is there a future in which they actually figure it out?

    Zobel: It certainly isn’t superfluous why Caleb isn’t there anymore, but certainly the fact that he’s gone and Loomis is by himself is enough of the problem for her. I think it’s a different story if you fast-forward two days after the movie ended to, like, six months after the movie ended—might totally be different stories.

  37. Silent

    I just finished watching the film for the first time and enjoyed it. Granted, it’s a movie that I need to be in the mood for because I don’t always like movies that move this slow. However, I agree that the acting was great.

    As far as the ending goes the easy answer is that Caleb died. On the other hand, I believe that Caleb and Mr Loomis had a meeting of minds and that Caleb left. The reason being that more than once the movie points out the limited about of wood, and lack of milling ability to make more wood. That was clearly stated in the movie. After telling Ann that Caleb left Mr Loomis returns to the watermill and looks down. Everything is in perfect working order, which wouldn’t have been the case if a body had tumbled down on top of everything. There just wouldn’t have been the time or resources to put the mill back together again. Also, had Caleb been murdered afterwards then there would have been some kind of signs of battle, bloodied hand, bruised eye something of such. That is why I think he left instead of getting murdered.

  38. Debra

    It is so interesting all the different takes on this ending. I was frustrated with the ending and so I googled it too, to see if the book gave more details about the ending, but now I know it wasn’t the same at all.
    My first take on the ending was that when John told Caleb that he wasn’t threatened by him and that he had told Ann to do whatever it took to keep Caleb there, and then Caleb laughed and said, “I don’t believe you.”
    Well, it seemed to me that when Caleb fell the second time and looked at John in the eyes, it was a look of “What kind of man are you? If you are an honest man, then you will save me.” to see if John really was telling the truth about Ann. In conclusion, I don’t think John killed Caleb. I think after John saved Caleb the second time, that Caleb came to the conclusion that John was an honest man and so he believed what he said about Ann using him must be true, and decided to take the suit and leave. Caleb would not have wanted to see Ann, before he left, because he felt used.
    If John had let him fall he would most likely broken the water wheel and then had to try and fish him out of the contaminated water without a suit.

  39. Richard

    I loved the movie, more times than not, I steer towards action or comedy but there was plenty going on to keep me interested and It doesn’t hurt to have the Beautiful Margot Robbie starring in the Movie. Caleb Lives, plain and simple; cause if they were the last people on earth, they must know that it would take more than two people to re-populate the world. The Adam and Eve theory is nothing more than fantasy. For the sake of humanity and my well being, Caleb lives, Ann and John get their freak on. Now to go buy the book and be disappointed in Us.

  40. Ally

    So happy to find a group to ‘discuss’ this with! A great movie, and I love the ambiguity with all its moral/emotional/survival issues. And then it turns into a mystery… and the interesting thing is that all the possible endings have weighty implications.

    My reading, with the scene right before the waterfalls holding three major clues:

    John: “If you weren’t here, we wouldn’t be so close to finishing the wheel.”

    John: “I told Ann to do whatever was necessary to keep you from leaving.”

    John: “What about Anson?”
    Caleb: “I don’t know, sir. Like you said, there’s probably nothing down there anyway.”

    In this theory, John has manipulated Ann into befriending and sleeping with Caleb, precisely to keep him there long enough to restore electricity, so that this John and Ann could survive the winter (remember, Ann almost starved to death without it when she was alone), but also to give her a chance to, as he says much earlier, “explore” before committing to him. The fact that in the scene immediately preceding the waterfall, Caleb says he is not interested in going to Anson anymore suggests to me that he would not leave willingly as John tells Ann.

    However, the commenter above makes a good point — a falling Caleb would destroy the water wheel. I think John was prepared to kill him, and in the moment when he saves Caleb from falling and their eyes lock, Caleb understands this. This harks back to the story Caleb has told of the battle to the death among the miners:

    “I met his glance, I looked him back in the eye. And he backed away from me, collapsed.”

    This time, I think Caleb collapses, realizing that if he doesn’t leave, he will be killed. The only suspicious aspect is that he isn’t allowed to return to the house to prepare properly and take his choice of belongings — but that might just be a narrative device to preserve the tantalizing suspense as to the ending in the movie.

    So to me, there is doubt as to whether Caleb has been killed, but whether he was or not, I think it is clear that John was prepared to. The other doubt is the extent of Ann’s “collusion” in this plan. Remember, when John tells Ann he doesn’t think she will understand him leaving another person to die in order to survive, she tells him about her near-starvation. She understands about the priority of survival and is signalling that it tempers her moral judgements. I think she is weighing this in her mind when after Caleb’s “departure”, she pushes that glass of water off the table… I think she’s thinking: did he do it, would he have been willing to do it, do I understand and support that decision?

    There’s a creepiness to the ending in the “barn church”. John is making a concession to Ann’s faith in recreating that space, but it’s almost as if it’s getting readied for a wedding. How willing is that future and at what cost was it prepared?

    I think the script is excellent in itself and in the adaptation of the novel. Interesting to do away with the straightforward abuse/domination dynamic, though a strong undercurrent remains in it here, though I appreciate that all the characters struggle to balance their good and less-good impulses and that one can read Ann as being not at all a victim here, but committing to a relationship and alliance with John even at Caleb’s expense, because there is a profoundly bonding morality in the pair’s mutual support in survival.

    The film is fascinating as a survival story, a morality play regarding a struggle of body versus soul, and a mystery — all rich in memorable ambiguity.

  41. twyla p

    I’m really happy I ran into your blog when I was trying to figure out what the heck happened in Containment. Once I found this blog and saw your take on movies I decided to try out most of the movies you talked about. This is a case in point.
    And boy am I glad I did. This movie and The One I Love are possibly my new favorites.
    In this movie I felt the weight of some darkness in Loomis from the minute he picked up the pistol when he was still in the pool. I felt like he was a killer. Also the film set me up to feel that way with the whole beautiful shot of the valley and sky with a dark cloud portion moving in and casting ominous shadows. This shot of the valley was right before Loomis. Even his name feels infused with meaning: looming…. loomis.
    I think this film was amazingly acted and such a wonderful script. I really love this. Thanks for sharing your perspective and for turning me onto some really great films.

    • Taylor Holmes

      This is funny actually, I was chatting with a friend… and was telling him about how rabidly cool you guys out here are. How much work you put into your comments and how nice you all are… that you all break the Trolling Interweb stereotype in half, you are so cool. And I was like, let’s just go to the most recent comment, just pull one out of a hat. And it was yours Twyla… I read it to him verbatim in the middle of our lunch and literally said at the end… “That comment was so nice, and so cool, I wouldn’t be shocked if you assumed that I had written that gem myself ahead of time just to prove my own point.” He laughed and said, “Yup, totally. I’m fairly certain now that you write all your own comments on your blog.” And I was like, “Well, yeah, that would be the only reasonable conclusion!” hahaha.

      So glad you are finding other movies to watch here. I have seriously considered building a widget out here that recommends movies based on other movies you liked out here. Sort of a manual whatshouldiwatchnext.com type of a thing for movies that make you think? But yeah, if you liked Containment, The One I Love, and Z for Zach… then here are a couple more you have to see:

      The survivalist
      Midnight Special (doing the write up now)
      Uncanny (watch the credits!)
      Time Lapse

      But I just realized you’ve watched “MOST” of the movies I’ve recommended. Dang. I don’t even read my stuff that much! hahah. So return the favor. What movies are in this vein that you would recommend? Frequencies is one movie that was recommended out here somewhere. Though I have no idea where now. Much of this blog is a blur to me.

      But The Survivalist is the movie closest to this one in the list I recommended. Though more extreme. But very similar feeling to it. Uncanny is closest to The One I Love? Though closer in feel to Ex Machina. Who knows.

      Anyway, thanks for making my point to my friend for me. And Ally, I scrolled up and said, yup, here’s one that shows just how much the fantastic commenters have to say on any particular topic. And I scrolled, and scrolled, and scrolled. And he laughed and laughed. You guys are all so cool. Just saying.

      • Jai

        I would highly recommend Embers (2015). Another slow-paced post-apocalyptic movie, with an interesting premise (memory loss, yay!).

  42. Sandra

    I actually rarely do this but I was visiting a few pages in search of answers because this movie was just too superb to just keep guessing at and i came across this comment on reddit. I don’t even know if i’m allowed to copy the persons name but here’s the comment:

    “John did not killed Caleb, he saved him once and save him again when Caleb tried to fall on purpose. He wanted to test how good John was, Caleb did a creepy smirk the second time John was trying to pull him and that means that he understand that John was trustworthy and more deserving than himself. They both moved the piano then Caleb left, he left because John convinced him that he wasn’t good for Ann. John was heartbroken after Ann went out to find Caleb so he went to the fountain then jumped. Ann saw him and was sad from what happened (she pushed the glass from the table part). Last part was John’s soul watching Ann playing the piano. John looked happy, Caleb unknown, Ann lonely for being alone again. This is how I see what happened.”

    And then my mind was blown.

    You’ve got a cool website here so just thought I’d add this theory for people to also read.


  43. Taylor

    Hey Sandra!
    Great theory you found. The grammar errors just add to its brilliance! Hahaha. The cleverness was it’s inside out thinking. The testing of just how good Caleb was… Or vice versa! And then commuting suicide? Hahah.

    And thanks for the compliment on the site, glad you liked it enough to do something “you normally don’t do”! Hah.


  44. Jacky

    I wonder if there’s a Cain and Abel reference here. Three’s a “community” (as Zobel says in his interview – http://time.com/4011974/chiwetel-ejiofor-z-for-zachariah/) and the Cain and Abel narrative illustrates the problems inherent in a now fallen community. Plus, jealousy is John’s reason (as Caleb accuses him, right before the murder), and that also was Cain’s. Abel was the true “believer” in the Biblical narrative, and John here is an unbeliever, like Cain. The director turns the story on its head though, by making the movie’s Abel (Caleb) seem manipulative and untrustworthy, making us almost agree with John’s decision to kill him. And yet, the death is still evidence of the “fall” – like the glass that Ann pushes from the table (she was the one that initiated the sex after all, so this fall was her fault) – and so John and Ann will live the rest of their lives in the valley with that guilt upon them, like a curse. The human community can start again, but human nature is just as corruptible the second time around.

  45. Sherrie Cannon

    I believe that Caleb knew, after the second life-threatening fall and save by Zachariah, that Zachariah told the truth about himself and Ann – that they would do anything to save their little heaven by restoring the electricity, with Caleb’s help, and that Ann seduced Caleb as per their plan. But I believe it hurt Ann to do this, and it hurt Zachariah that she did.

  46. Guy

    This movie’s ending lets people see either the good in humanity or the bad in humanity. Apparently I see the bad.
    When Caleb gave his smile, that would stop a miner from killing you, he lets John know that he has won. He doesn’t believe that John has it in him to kill. (*As he told his story about the brother and then about killing the brother just to Ann*) He doesn’t know that John does have it in him to kill and he already has 🙂 Caleb fell and probably smacked his head on some of the wood on the way down.. That wheel was pretty well constructed with wood that probably wouldn’t break so easily and i’m sure John was fine with it getting damaged if need be, as it could be fixed. He pulls Caleb back up with the rope and disposes of the body. He sits and listens to Ann play, giving his attention to her, and she appreciates it.
    Caleb would not leave without gathering enough food to survive a winter and even though it would be a pain to bring his stuff whilst wearing the suit he would still find a way to bring it. He did NOT give up on taking Ann. He even made his objectives to stick around very clear to John. At one point in the movie he has his rifle pointing at John’s head. He had every intention to kill John after he was no longer needed. (*Electricity)
    Caleb stalked them and stole from them before making his appearance.
    Any movie that makes you think is usually a good movie, but a nuisance to have to come up with your own ending 🙂 Hopefully someone is able to give some better opinions from reading this 🙂

  47. Brian

    We’re all forgetting one very important thing here: John didn’t have to “murder” Caleb at all, he could have just let him fall to his death and told Ann it was an accident. Why would he go through the trouble of retrieving Caleb, burying him or hiding him somehow (I thought whoever said the body is hidden in the organ is genius!) so as to “show” Caleb was no longer around. Unless he killed him some other way, I suppose. A bullet hole would would have made even an innocent farm girl like Ann realize something was up, and we as the audience (and apparently Ann) never hear a gunshot. John has already proven himself to be trustworthy by telling Ann he believes it is her brother that he met and killed on the road, so Ann will probably believe him if he told her there was an accident. So my conclusion, FINALLY, after reading everything you wonderful people have added to this fantastic blog, is that Caleb did indeed walk away.

  48. Suze

    I am currently watching the film again (only just finished it for the first time about an hour ago) and I still don’t think John killed Caleb. I will come back to elaborate on this later.

    Also, I interpreted the title “Z for Zachariah” antonymous to the book shown earlier in the film, “A for Adam”

    “A” is the first letter in the alphabet, and Adam was (some would say) the first man on earth. Z – the last letter of the alphabet, and Zachariah (John Loomis) represented the “last man on Earth”

    • Mike

      If that’s the case then John did kill Caleb or he wouldn’t be the last man on Earth

  49. Don

    I think what is implied, but not necessarily said here among most recollections of the movie, is that it’s human nature to infer or project what we assume a movie character is capable, prone to or if left with a golden opportunity, then it’s well within most people to do the unthinkable if given the dire scenario that the movie based apparently on a much harsher version of the original book, implies that a desperate person if they weigh all the options, will choose presumably the most effective means to eliminate a potential hazard to one’s survival.

    I’m with those who speculate that if John allows Caleb to fall, (after the unprovoked second slip at the top)gravity presumably would create a need to reach out to the underlying rock face of the waterfall and presuming that the bulky gloves of the containment suit would make it nearly impossible to grasp at anything other than the attendant rope which I think was still wrapped around Caleb’s waist.

    I’m still trying to follow the apparent logic of “pretending to slip at the top” with all the ramifications of being vulnerable to falling in a bulky suit to begin with when only a rope and the holder of said rope being apparently the only thing preventing a potential fall.

    Also the wedge of religious belief that Caled used against Ann to give her an ultimatum that loosely recalled: “only those with faith should survive”?

    That and the bottle of wine tossed by Caleb in the pond gave me the impression that Caleb wanted John to feel his masculinity was being challenged by calling him out to be the first one to go fishing, (like a duck) for the bottle at the bottom of the pond, when nothing seemingly nefarious happened, I was disappointed, because I thought for sure that this was the first attempt by Caleb to eliminate John by, “accidental drowning”.

    So, when John made the comment that “you were never a threat to me” and Caleb responds with “jealousy doesn’t suit you”, the stage was set for John to give the impression that John wanted Ann to “seduce him” whether or not this was a manipulation of loyalties or merely a drawn out narrative which might not have been hinted at, like in the movie “a Boy and his Dog” where Don Johnson’s character is ostensibly used not to directly impregnant surviving women after a surface scorching nuclear holocaust, but as a viable sperm donator hooked up to a siphon “penis pump” where each “load” is ritualistically given, (in a “marriage” ceremony) to a girl of child-bearing “stock” while each girl is brought in one at a time wearing a bridal gown/veil and no physical contact is ever made, but the process is essential to the “repopulation meme”.

    I thought for a while there that perhaps John did not want to have sex because he may have known that his high radiation exposure might mean he’s sterile or a bad experience with the girl in the photo means he’s impotent, therefore the necessity of tricking Caleb into impregnating Ann, but like a lot of theories about the direction of characters in this movie, this is ample proof of the viewer, (i.e. myself) creating their own conclusions.

    The ending, to me, John’s not a ghost, even if Ann has faith, her faith is in unseen things, not imagined human constructs that may or may not be central to a character’s self identity, Ann turns around because she perhaps notices the shadow of a figure approaching, (from behind) much like she assumed it was John, not Caleb that crept up behind her when she was playing the organ in the tiny chapel before Caleb convinced everyone to use the wood from the church, (chapel) to construct the waterfall powered water wheel for the generator.

    Why the confrontation about whether or not John was capable of being in two places is never fully flushed out in the script regarding John chopping wood while Ann thinks he just came from “watching her play the organ” or why once the dog runs towards Caleb on the hillside, the dynamic of 3 characters, (which includes the relationship that Ann had with the now missing dog) subtracts the dog for reasons not clearly demonstrated, but now Caleb replaces the dog as the 3rd character, so the focus shifts from loyal dog companion to “unassuming ambiguous male character” that offers an alternative to the previous pair bonding of Ann & John after she nurses him back into a semblance of relative, (not dying) health.

    One has to wonder why her nurturing instincts, (toward a radiation contamination waterfall bath character) suddenly takes a backseat once the virile young white male shows up, perhaps like the scene where Ann goes into John’s room after he tells her he loves her, (coming back from the threesome frolick in the pond and a tossed bobbing for a wine bottle scene) that now she’s ready to consummate their awkward relationship with some procreation interplay, but, because John refuses to wake up, she goes with “willing stranger” all relaxed coming out of a bath.

  50. Don

    Now, my speculation as to how to off the Caleb character without damaging the sluice
    piece that brought the water from the edge of the lower part of the waterfall to the waterwheel follows this trajectory: First off, after the second slip, John ties off the rope, holds on to it himself, knocks off the helmet of the containment suit, then lowers Caleb down, granted if one imagines filling up the suit with radioactive water, the added weight of the water would likely snap the rope, so maybe, because Caleb’s character kept slipping, I thought since John claims to have designed the suit, what’s keeping him from taking the tread or sole off the bottom of the containment suit boots making it, (the suit’s boots) slippery on purpose?

    The “John is a ghost” scenario doesn’t explain how John moves the organ to the barn, when all Caleb suggested earlier was for Ann to cover it with a tarp, plus it almost appears that John wasn’t necessarily attempting, then pulling back from attempting suicide, maybe he was merely seeing if he did jump, would he be able to clear the sluice trough at the bottom and still kill himself or perhaps he was merely peeking over the edge to see if a falling Caleb damaged the function of the water transfer to the waterwheel?

    One has to assume that a calculating “scientist” like John has already played out a variety of scenarios that in some instances, he already knew what his response would be to a variety of challenges, the same could be speculated for removing Caleb from the survival supplies are limited scenario so that John remains to solve relatively simple problems, (like when he solved the no electricity to power the gas pump “problem” by giving Ann the idea to work the pump manually) Caleb wanted John to assume that he was unpredictable, like the story about how he was supposedly an “innocent bystander” when 4 “family”men went wandering off to locate their families morphed into a fight for survival underground in a mine among the exact same characters who apparently never made it to the surface if the last tale is accurate.

    Another possibility is secure the rope for himself, (John) then help Caleb remove the helmet, then push him off with a precalculation of where Caleb would most likely fall towards avoiding damage to the waterwheel set-up, granted John was shown earlier in the movie reading a book on tractor maintenance, so being a scientist, maybe he had a similar problem with the woman in the photo and maybe this isn’t the first time he’s felt compelled to eliminate a potentially rival male suitor?

    I recall John telling Ann that it’s might be better if he didn’t tell her the entire story regarding her brother, because he wasn’t sure she could handle it mentally.

    Maybe John’s character had something to do with the dystopian chain of events, why else would he have created a proximity suit if the basis for its use was either forthcoming or well on it’s way to an inevitable drawn-out conclusion?

    One could conceivably conjure up a plethora of possibilities of end scene scenarios given the dearth of apparent scripted scenes not included in the final release.

    Without showing anyone moving the organ, how did it get moved?

    Maybe Ann used the tractor to move it, then used a rope and pulleys to move it into place at the back of the barn?

    Because John’s character had a bum leg, he would have had to use some sort of device, like a “dead-fall” to eliminate his need to be “quick on his feet”, how else does he get the drop on Caleb, then again, perhaps Caleb is exhausted from holding onto the rope and is easy to push off balance and removing the helmet, if John can fill up the suit with radioactive water at the top of the falls, perhaps he would not need to push him over the falls, but weigh Caleb down with the suit filled with radioactive water, then just simply push his head down, drown him, then pull Caleb out of the water and bury the suit and Caleb because John knows Ann will avoid the water source upstream, so just covering Caleb and the suit with enough rocks means John wouldn’t have to bury Caleb, just cover him up with local fauna.

  51. Leah

    Did anyone remember what John said in the beginning?

    “I was on the design team
    for that suit I was wearing.
    But it’s the only reason I was able
    to survive as long as I did.
    They weren’t supposed
    to be used long-term, though.
    It’s beat up now. It’s damaged.”

    I feel like John didn’t let Caleb fall off the cliff, I think he was telling the truth about caleb leaving with the suit but John felt guilty for not telling Caleb that the suit is damaged. That’s my theory about the ending.

  52. Wem

    Bottomline is that the movie is a cliffhanger. We’re left guessing whether Loomis killed Caleb. Most of the clues point to that but ultimately there is no closure and none of the characters are innocent. Could have used an ounce of radioactive cannibalistic scavenger zealots and rover on the rotisserie as the strolling plot had me dozing off at times. Otherwise a solid B+.

    • Mike

      Interview with the director himself said that it is supposed to be heavily implied that John killed Caleb. The look on Calebs face is one of “i bet you wont do it”. And John did

  53. Jai

    (My writing style is tedious, bear with me!)

    Is Z a “good film”? I don’t know… Take, say a Silver Linings Playbook (the one I watched just before this one), a quintessential`good film’ with a feel-good story, good acting, and replete with sufficiently flawed likeable characters… but does it make you speculate on a number of “did he (or she, or they) / didn’t he” type of scenarios? Or did it incline you to Google its deeper meaning/ending? I am well aware that it isn’t fair to compare the two and I’m not really doing that. I just want to credit the director for not taking an easy route and giving us exactly what we want: the “all is well in my world” ending. Instead, we are left to choose between discomfort (at the thought of John having not only killed Caleb, but also lying about it to Ann) and confusion (if he didn’t kill Caleb, how do we make sense of Caleb just upping and leaving?).

    If you or I were the last person on Earth, with no witnesses left to reflect back the moral weight of our choices, what would we do? With Ann, soon joined by John, followed by the mephistophelian Caleb, the movie begins the journey we take in weighing our options… and I believe it does not end there, intentionally. We have to live with our choices in our minds (yes, John killed Caleb, or no, John spared Caleb; or perhaps, yes Ann colluded with John to get rid of Caleb, or no, John actually lied about it). The movie is a lesson in ethics… and theology 😀

    With a name like `Z for…’, a preacher’s daughter for a protagonist, a church (or the demolition of one), and even baptism by radioactive contaminated water, I cannot help but think that some basic understanding of Biblical themes and characters would help in drawing more connecting lines of understanding. I was compelled to look up the stories of the prophet Zechariah, John (the Baptist), Caleb… that said, the associations I make may be clumsy or incorrect since I am not a biblical scholar by any stretch.

    So, we all got the part where Ann is living in a post-apocalyptic Eden. Instead of the first paradise, here we have the last one. It is interesting that instead of a man, we have a woman as the first (last?) inhabitant of this dark paradise. I feel like the entire movie is if we just reflected the whole story of Adam and Eve and their expulsion from Eden through a mirror, but darkly.

    We are made well aware of many of John’s flaws… AND he is a non-believer to boot. Caleb on the other hand professes to be a man of faith but seems to have no qualms about stealing (eggs), lying (at the dinner table, that John suggested tearing down the church), and sleeping with another man’s “wife” (in violation of some of the ten commandments). He has no problem helping them tear down the church, and is even shown yanking out the cross of the steeple with much vigour. He may have even killed those miners (they tore each other apart, really?!). A shifty guy for sure – quite serpentine, not unlike the one in Eden. And yet, oddly, he is the one sermonising Ann that faith is the most important thing of all. Are we to remember that at the end of the movie? Have faith that John – even though he, as a human would, gets drunk, violates Ann’s personal space, lies, gets jealous, makes a difficult choice of killing a boy, etc. – would not allow a man to die, even if he is courting the very woman he likes, when his survival lies solely in his hands?

    A lot of people were asking about the dog. When I looked up the story of Caleb, apparently the name signifies “dog”. So the disappearance of the dog and the appearance of Caleb seems to be intentional rather than a slip on the part of the director. Lifting word for word from Wikipedia, Caleb is the “representative of the Tribe of Judah during the Israelites’ journey to the Promised Land” and is “a very influential character to the occurrence of Israel’s 40 years in the desert before entering the Promised Land”. So is Ann’s farmstead a kind of Promised Land?

    Sorry to go all meta-crazy on you, but I just couldn’t help it. Loved all of the many interpretations here on this blog – you guys really enriched my understanding of the movie. Overall, loving the experience of this film… still delightfully marinating in its after-effects! 😀

    • Jai

      Oh, and I also want to add something regarding John’s last name “Loomis”. The interweb tells me that “Loomis” is a family name derived from Old English elements: lumm ‘pool’ + halh ‘nook’, ‘recess’. I take this to be another indicator for John being a representative of John the Baptist. I may be reading too much into all of this, but I just can’t help it… it’s so much fun to do! 🙂

      • Jai

        And divination by Wikipedia revealed that Zechariah is father of John the Baptist. Did our John (Loomis) “baptise” Caleb in the contaminated water? Blasphemy!

  54. Rita

    Ann and Zachariah are Adam and Eve. Caleb is the apple. Ann succumbed to eating the apple (or in this case Caleb’s shoulder in their bathroom scene) and therefore invited sin into the Garden (Valley) of Eden. But its an interesting modern and nuanced take on the story.

  55. Greg Madison

    Excellent observation and theories about this movie. I just came across this move this week as was totally shocked that I had heard nothing about its release. I read the book over 30 years ago as a teen and I was awestruck by it! The references to the Bible and so much more, I never would have guessed a movie could be made from it. Reading the book first, Loomis is capable of killing Caleb. And he look that passed between them explained it all. The reviewer who mentioned the look from Caleb seeing weakness in Loomis…SPOT ON! This is certainly a precursor to the book! One of my favorite books and now favorite movies.

  56. Michael Moore

    Here is what I gleaned:

    1. Loomis is nerdy guy, easily buzzed, not a drinker and sexually inhibited and never been with a white girl

    2. She is a farm girl, southern and was willing to get in a relationship with loomis, but he wasn’t ready when she was.

    3. I dont see controlling at all, more like older guy, nerdy perhaps rigid but caring.

    4. Caleb definitely read came on just as loomis was getting around to understanding his feelings for her at which time Caleb was lusting for her.

    5. Jealousy is complicated. It appears it expedited loomis’ readiness for love as he professed his love for her, but passed out.

    6. I think loomis and ann would have been a perfect couple had caleb not appeared…i believe loomis when he said to take it slow.

    7. Caleb in my view was just a guy passing by, found a job as a handyman and a fling that threw the wrench in slow but surely maturing relationship.

    I think caleb fell to his death, but loomis lied because ann would never have believed him after confessing to the killing and the jealousy of caleb.

  57. DC

    I like these replies, you’ve all put a lot of thought into it.

    Some of these ideas below might be upsetting so ***TRIGGER WARNING***. NOT BEING SARCASTIC.

    I think part of the symbolism was missed. In the scene where the glass is pushed off the table, in Ann’s line of sight, to the right and behind the glass of water is a glass jar with a broken empty eggshell inside it. I think the jar represents a womb and the broken empty eggshell represents that either Caleb didn’t successfully impregnate Ann, or she found out she was not pregnant. The glass had a little water, but it didn’t break. Her water didn’t break. I.e. there was no baby or it was lost or was never conceived.

    Before Ann pushes the bible, a pencil rolls towards it from behind. Does this symbolise a failed attempt to rewrite the Bible? Is this a parallel to the screenwriter rewriting the original book for the movie? Does it relate to the story somehow? I think Caleb represented forbidden fruit. He advocated destroying the Church, when the others didn’t want to. The music at the end is so sad.

    After the glass falls, on the way to the kitchen, Ann is carrying an empty glass jar with no shell. This means she’s moved past the broken shell of the past. So does this mean she’s ready to try for a baby again? The light in the fridge represents hope, that it will be full again, like there will be resources to feed a child. The lights around the fridge are the symbolic spreading of light, like repopulation of the Earth, as the house is repopulated by light.

    From a survival point of view, if they were the last 3 humans on Earth, it made sense that if they wanted to repopulate with the longest line of healthy decendants, Ann would have children with both Loomis and Caleb. I think that Loomis *wanted* Ann to have a baby with Caleb, before eventually either killing him or living happily ever after somehow.

    I’m still not sure if Loomis also died or not and that thing about his ghost going to Ann at the end. I think he wanted to die, but he, like Ann had a burden to survive. I can’t quite read the writing on the barn wall behind Loomis as he hears the music. But I think I can see AC and a reflected version of the cross of confusion. Someone else can probably decipher that.

    The name Loomis is also curious because it sounds like Lumi – light. Like the Light Bringer, aka Lucifer before he became Satan. He brought light literally into the house with electricity. So who was the evil one, or were they all evil?

    The bible was also placed face-down on the table. I think this would fit with the idea that the movie is a prequel to the novel. I.e. the table is the movie and the face (beginning) of a book is in contact with it. Maybe that’s what the pencil was about, like a signature of the writer.

    The technical part of the generator was also weird. It needed a gearbox to spin fast enough to generate enough voltage and current, but it didn’t have one! Certainly to run a fridge and two lamps some distance away. We can see how fast the belt to the generator turns by the water wheel. It’s incredibly slow. I don’t know if this has any meaning at all.

    I also find it weird that when lifting such a heavy object as a water wheel, Ann wouldn’t be around to help?? If she was there, she could have prevented Caleb leaving or being murdered. Did she want the men to fight to the death? Or she knew it was inevitable and didn’t want to see it? That way she hates whoever comes back, and he has to live with the guilt. If she chose one, then maybe neither of them had to die and it could have been an amicable parting of ways.

    I was annoyed by the ending the first time I saw it, but after thinking, rewatching parts of it and reading your comments, I think there’s more to it. But you’d need some religious knowledge to make it all out.

    I have no explanation of the missing dog at all.

  58. Scott

    Honestly, I think it was left ambiguous on purpose just to get people wondering and talking. There is no right answer.

  59. Beatriz

    I’m so glad that i’ve seen this post at 0:44 am. I just watched this movie and I thought “ok this is creepy, those guys… poor girl and what an end..”.
    I actually liked the movie but I gotta say it was weird because I’m not used to see this kind of movies…

  60. Craig

    Observations: when Loomis released Caleb, I assume Caleb died from the fall. But he must have fallen onto the wooden sluice. Consequently, wouldn’t the sluice have been damaged, requiring Loomis to repair it. But then, he would have had to put on the suit, right?

    But the suit probably was damaged and in the water. Or at least, in order to retrieve and wear the suit, Loomis most likely would have had to enter the water, and expose himself to the radioactivity.

    So how come he didn’t get sick this time like he did in the beginning?

    Somebody please explain this to my satisfaction.

  61. JS

    It sounds like far more of an American remake of the 1985 New Zealand film “The Quiet Earth” than a film adaptation of the book.

  62. Lui

    Caleb tested Loomis twice with that slip. He found out that Loomis wasn’t going to let him fall as to not damage the watermill. Caleb’s stare was to advise to be lowered down and escape with the suit. Wheter Loomis is a killer depends on why he tells Ann he killed her brother. Perhaps to give her closure and to assure the boy’s quick death just to improve his image that he isn’t such a horrible man who’d leave a dying boy alone.

    • Tanya

      I think when Loomis said he killed the brother, he meant that he let the boy die. After all, he put the boy on the side of the road where he knew the boy would die. He didn’t try to save him with medicine. Perhaps he FELT guilty over it.

      I don’t think he killed Caleb. I never read the book, but there are three people in this movie. I thought Caleb was sowing strife with his comments about the church at the dinner table – and Loomis said he did NOT say that.

      It is very possible that Caleb just left. Loomis would have had to be wearing a suit to go get Caleb if he let him fall into that water. He’d have to go into the water and carry him out – and he’d get poisoned if he did this.

      Long ago, very long ago, I saw a movie very much like this – so much so that I thought this was a remake. That older movie had a white guy and black guy and a white girl in it too.

  63. E

    – Did anyone notice that Ann’s sad moment at the table is also accompanied by snow flurries floating in the window & she’s wearing a sweater & scarf? As they say “Winter is coming.” To me this was a nod back to her conversation with Loomis about how hard the winter was with no food stored. So yes, I do believe she’s mourning Caleb BUT immediatley after this moment she discovers the refrigerator working and is elated that she won’t have to suffer like she did before. What I see here is acceptance. She knows Loomis killed Caleb but accepts it because he is providing comforts. As another commentor mentioned (and Ann herself in the movie), you don’t need electricity to survive. This is also the only sense I can make of her playing the organ while Loomis listens. It felt like absolution to me…having their own little service for sinners.

    – Loved reading the theory here that she was going to sleep with Loomis out of “duty” to procreate. I didn’t see that, but it works. Loomis alluded to the possibility of them having children but she seemed to naive to pick up on it. This also makes her choosing Caleb doubly painful. I laughed when Loomis said “Go be white people together!” but I felt the sting of it too. Ann & Caleb “fit”. . . and despite her protests that she doesn’t want him, if the “duty” theory is in effect then her choosing of Caleb also means she thinks he’s the “righteous” choice. Heavy. And from Loomis’ perspective what old black man can compete with the connection between two young white Southern Christians? They showed the awkwardness of it when they rode in the tractor together & definitely while swimming. You know right from the start that this threesome simply cannot work.

    – The tension was so good when the 3 of them were having a meal and Loomis & Caleb started sharing their “war” stories. Ann was completely oblivious that they were low-key threatening each other… “Oh I’m so sorry you lost your friends Caleb.” What happened here was that Caleb met Loomis’ subtle threat eye-to-eye…”Oh you wanna tell stories…I have some too”. They both knew what the other meant, “Don’t try me, you will lose.”
    – I don’t mind slow, thoughtful movies and I liked this one all the way to the last scene. There should’ve been enough here, without the background of the book, to make sense of what was happening, and there just wasn’t.

  64. Catherine Durm

    Loved this movie !!!!! I want to believe the best of everyone, easier to sleep at night, What if Loomis wasn’t able to pull Caleb back up after he slipped, maybe the suit was too heavy. But he had no idea how to break it to Ann, without, her second guessing him for the rest of their lives together. He feared she wouldn’t be able to believe him. Especially with the fact he was able to shoot her brother.
    Or better yet, Caleb, realized he should leave, after Loomis pulled him to safety. He realizes Loomis really loves Ann and is the better man for her. Plus Loomis just saved his life. Also That he would always be the 3rd wheel.
    Then I want to believe Loomis because more and more open to Ann’s faith. It would be interesting to have a sequel. Where they have children, have to prepare the future for their children. Then one day Caleb comes back with his own woman he has meet roaming about. She has been living in a series of caves, deep ungrounded. At some point Caleb and she decides to risk traveling back to Ann’s farm. They all live together in the house and raise their many children to repopulate the earth . As time goes they are able to fix the radio and find out their are pockets of people all over the world who have survived. By shortwave radio Loomis is able to tell people near the place where he made his original suit, how to construct more . They make quite a few, and start traveling and exchanging them for extra food, guns, moonshine etc.. soon many people are able to travel back and forth between the safe zones. A new society emerges. But that is how I like all my movies to end-“They lived happily ever after ” ☺️

  65. Phil Derby

    Obviously I am very late to this party but I just saw the movie and loved it. And like many of you, I Googled to find out whether John killed Caleb or not, and stumbled upon this site. Love all the alternate theories and explanations. I still think John let Caleb die, but it would be a miracle of sorts that he falls without damaging any of the water wheel. So that gives me pause, maybe Caleb did, in fact, leave? But I think the vague ending is perfect, it suits the film. Great movie. Clearly not for everyone.

  66. Katie

    I really really enjoyed this film. I havent read the book so I cannot compare, but my interpretation was that Ann was Eve, John was Adam and Caleb was the devil. He tempted Ann, pretending to be Christian to get on her side and persuade her to allow them to tear down the church. I thought the building of the waterwheel was representative of knowledge. John partook in it so he too lost the paradise that he and Anne had had before Caleb’s arrival. John killed Caleb (whose predatory glances and smiles made me think really was the devil just disguised as a man) and then turned to faith to give him comfort. John’s need to be in control might have been to represent how Eve undermined Adam’s masculinity. I know not everything adds up, but this makes the most sense to me.

    • J S

      A very interesting take!
      I can’t say it resonates for me, though. (But it does make me more eager to see the film again.)

      I think the film was masterful in it’s nuance. One of the things I applaud it for is that the characterizations *aren’t* ‘black and white’. In other words I don’t thing either man is ‘the bad guy’: they’re more real than that, and reacting as normal, good people would in a very interesting and challenging scenario. I think John is responding understandably to the drive to procreate which is hardwired into us.

    • johnny_aged

      james 2 18-19

      Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds .
      You believe that there is one God. Good!
      Even the demons believe that—and shudder.
      caleb knew that ann was a religious one and masquerades as the angel of light. it was pretty obvious

      in one scene . caleb tried to persuade ann that its only rightful that the new world belongs to believers like them. and questions loomis role in the entire story, in reality true believers never questions his neighbors worth . he already labelled loomis as a godless/pagan without knowing him

      even though he claims to be a believer… without hesitation caleb is the one that gave the third and final opinion that pushed on bringing down the church …. Even loomis himself hesitated and postponed as they are still lowkey waiting for a sign for the right thing to do ( as ann said what if they found more survivors , the church would be more useful for the people than electricity )

      while they were at the table.. loomis told a story. the story was about the true state of the apocalyptic outside world and how he was forced to do unthinkable things just to survive. caleb took advantage and used that opportunity to tell a story about how survived without using violence. just standing in the middle of the crowd while everyone is murdered and when its his turn. the assailants would just miraculously drop dead or some divine power would just spare him. ( now if this was true. then god saved him all those times just to die at the hands of a loomis? )
      it feels like he only told that story to make look loomis bad (for using violence) in front of ann

      Loomis never publicly claimed to be a believer on screen but when on the right mind he’s the one that hesitated and rejected ann’s advances when she was even naked in front of him telling her that a lot would change if the started having a physical relationship .. twice.. once before caleb came and second was the night after the swim . right before caleb and ann comitted the act

      caleb claimed to be a believer. but he never even once asked ann if she really is sure about having sex…. it’s like he is planting everything that ann wants to hear/see the entire time and just been waiting for the harvest all along. a true believer wouldve asked

      as according to jesus ..in the bible. having sex is hypothetically equal to beeing married . as a samaritan woman was once quoted as having 5 husbands for just having 5 different sexual partners. but it seems of the two. loomis is the one that knows and respects the concept of sex=marriage while caleb on the other hand
      is just smirking in front of breakfast table provocatively after a one night stand

      take note caleb was already aware that ann and loomis was sleeping in the same bed since he came. but it feels like he knew exactly what he was doing and taunting loomis the entire time. it feels like he also knew how loomis is currently depriving anns sexual needs . he knew exactly what he did but acts arrogantly because he knew loomis is a pussy

      at the end .. calebs smile when he was about to drop was not innocent at all.. if you can see the pain in the eyes of loomis at that time youll wonder how caleb a
      self proclaimed believer can still smile like that.

      in front of caleb was loomis… caleb asked for water and loomis gave him food. and even a room to stay,.. but caleb wanted more and more and even took his virgin-ann ( well yes she might not be a virgin but loomis is saving ann until theyre ready )

      you know why caleb is smiling like that at the end? he is basically making fun of loomis.. you see caleb has pillaged every thing yet loomis is still trying to save him. in fact loomis never hesitated on saving him . he got off the cliff once. with his help. yet.. its like he deliberately slipped once again to test loomis one last time with more insulting smile.. and finally got the facial reaction that he wants

      with the smirk caleb shows at the end knew loomis doesnt have what it takes to drop/kill him .. and it feels like he is enjoying loomis’s pain on saving the one that took everything away from him

      truly wicked

      one last note on loomis…. loomis was a representation of a real post apocalyptic character . who already lost his mother/father sister/ loved ones .. one time he lost control and almost decided on giving up. it was evident when his tones suddenly became hostile . he became rude to ann and started drinking from the convenient store. when he was really drunk he tried to kiss ann when she was trying to carry him to bed

      but after that midlife crisis . loomis finally got a hold of himself again a. even when ann was trying to bare herself in front of him he wouldnt even touch her. his judgement was always on point when sober . he was actually never got drunk again after that even when ann was getting flirty with caleb…. he never even told her to keep distance from caleb.. it was surprising how focus loomis is at the water generator project even when caleb is slowly poking on ann behind his back the entire time

      what really happened to caleb?

      best guess is upon making fun of loomis for the final time at the falls he just left.
      but why? well he already got what he wanted. he made ann give in to her sexual needs and created a rift between the adam and eve of the new generation

      it was evident at the end that even ann couldnt still believe that caleb would just leave like that. how could a handsome . self promoted believer do anything like that? its like she held on a false promise from satan himself

      another possibility was caleb managed successfully provoke loomis to drop him… which means caleb was victorious on making eve(ann) an adulterer and adam (loomis) a murderer
      the story was a clear reference to adam and eve . and how the serpent decieved eve. … loomis was even reading a childrens book once .. A-for adam.. 1st man on earth and z-for zacharriah the last man on a post apocalyptic world
      either caleb lived or died is a not relevant since he most likely is a demon and cannot be killed anyway… none of his actions indicated that he is a true believer, everything he did felt like it has a heavy political weight behind it,,simply praying to be seen in front of anyone doenst make you a believer. it makes you a hypocrite ….Matthew 6:5

      The moral of the story is let us be vigilant and test those who claims to know jesus not just by their words… but the decisions they make..

      james: 2

      14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?

      18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”

      Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.

      19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

  67. Zet

    thank you for this review, also to the replies. i now clearly understand the story and it actually made me have goosebumps. the movie was really worth watching!

  68. Jay

    I think when Caleb slips the second time and given that look to Loomis I think it’s a look of Caleb knowing what Loomis is about to do and he could have used the tractor to move the organ

  69. Joan

    I believe John did kill Caleb. The wry look Caleb gives him from inside the safe suit as John disconnects the rope and is the only thing keeping Caleb from falling. John finally has the upper hand. Caleb out maneuvered John at every turn with Ann. Also telling is that a few scenes later we see John again at the waterfall and he moves so that half of his feet are dangling over the precipice; as if he is waging war with his guilt over what he did to keep his version of paradise alive. Ann knows John killed Caleb. We see her at the end resigned to the two person dynamic left to her as she cannot stand the thought of living alone again. Accepting John’s not quite logical explanation of why Caleb is gone allows her to have stability, comfort and company. I feel sorry for Ann who has her choice taken away from her and must make the best of the situation she is given. At least as she plays the organ at the end she still has her faith to comfort her.

  70. HAP

    I really liked this movie but was confused that’s why I came to this site. I loved all the comments and different opinions. I’ve since come to my own conclusion that Mr Loomis didn’t kill Caleb. He tried too hard to save him at the waterfall as others have mentioned. I think Loomis was guilty about killing or letting Ann’s brother die. He realized that when she showed him the picture. He couldn’t sleep with her because he knew that he was the cause of her brother’s demise.
    When Caleb arrived on the scene, Loomis was obviously jealous. But he needed Ann to make a choice. It seems that he was pushing her to Caleb. He also needed Caleb around to help complete his “project”.
    Ann didn’t understand that Loomis rejected her because of his guilt and so pushed her into another man’s. Besides their differences I think she would’ve still chosen him over Caleb because she bonded with him first.
    Caleb’s character I still don’t understand. First of all when the first two characters were introduced they had protective gear on because they were comming from a contaminated environment. When Caleb arrived on the scene, he just appeared. Why? He was safe in a mine, true. But how did he get to the valley.
    He caused Loomis to open up to Ann first by telling her about her brother, then by professing his love to her.
    In the end Both Ann and Loomis had guilt so they could move on. I think the final scene was one of resignation for both of them.

  71. Felipe

    I think Caleb actually its alive, When ann opens the fridge door realize there are no eggs again just like when they havent met yet, her face change, she is serene again and run to the church to play the piano again —

  72. Hector Silva

    I read some opinions. And all get to the relationship of 3 persons….
    What I saw was a girl that has to. Chose between blind faith or “progress” (word used in the movie). It doesn’t matter how Loomis killed Caleb, is Ann choosing logic over faith… And in the end a very small hint that maybe Caleb is still around… Faith didn’t leave completely….

    I didn’t see the movie trying to fill all the gaps… How exactly killed him… Is not really relevant…

  73. TG

    I wouldn’t know if 3 person movies are unpopular, but I do believe that most movies with ambiguous endings are unpopular. I do agree that the Caleb character was let fall to his death, as Ann climbed up the mountain to look for him. By her expression he was presumably not on the road. I think her angst later in the movie, was due to knowing that the man she cared for and admired (John), had killed. The message implied by the broad Biblical hints, was that the “rebuilt” civilization had again repeated the cardinal sin of Cain and Able, so would be doomed to repeat the mistakes even while technology was rediscovered.

  74. Stanley Turner

    It was simple, though it took some reflection to figure it out. All three are good genuine, caring people. She got horny when she drank. She reached out to John first. He didn’t reject her. He was out. He didn’t even know she was there. She was ready, and found Caleb physically attractive. Bamm! She was already commented to John and Caleb knew this the whole time. That was why she recoiled the next morning when Caleb tried to demonstrate emotional ownership. She tried to reconcile with John. Otherwise, she just moves into his(Caleb’s) room. She realized it was a mistake that couldn’t be undone. Caleb picked up on that, felt and understood the conflict and decided to move on rather than engage in open conflict and hurt people he cared for. End of story(though maybe not because Caleb may be forced to come back to survive).

  75. Blair

    and my was dead set on the fact that he did Kill Caleb so that’s where it got confusing but all in all week the three of us love this movie and are recommending it to anybody who wants to see a good flick

  76. Gordon Smith

    I just saw this movie (Nov 27, 2018) for the first time on Dish. The ending is ambiguous. Th viewer is left to “divine” what happened to Caleb. 1. Caleb slipped away despite Loomis’ best efforts to save him. 2. Loomis let Caleb go intentionally. 3. Loomis saved Caleb and Caleb recognized that Loomis was the better man, and Caleb left on his own volition.

    Which ending you “prefer”…is more about YOUR perspective and bias…than what is actually shown in the film.


  77. Tru3Avalon

    I think we overkilled it with the possible endings also that even the director and screenwriters did not go this deep with the script/details noticed here and that he first does not know what happened at the end and left it for everyone to interpret they’re own ending and that he’s maybe reading this post’s and enjoying the mess he made with people’s minds. Mine first

  78. Stanley Turner

    Watched it again. John was hung up and couldn’t consummate with Ann. Because he hadn’t, and there was a mutual attraction between Ann and Calib, he was threatened and started feeling like a third wheel. When he said he loved her, he gave himself a chance but then inexplicably didn’t follow up. Nature took it’s course and he couldn’t except it. That’s why he told the lie that Caleb saw right through. His first, natural reaction was to save Caleb, which he did. Given a second chance, he paused right in the middle of pulling Caleb up. You don’t pause pulling heavy weight because momentum aids in the lifting. Ann went to Caleb. After having sex with Ann, there was no reason for him to leave and Loomis knew he was now definitely and permanently a third wheel. He let that rope go.

  79. Troy

    First time writing so bear with me. Z for Zachariah is the last man on earth. Loomis is a scientist and realizes he cannot procreate, possibly due to radiation. He recognizes Caleb and Ann can rejuvenate civilization and considers aiding the process. He has become disenchanted with the concept of mankind. He is torn between the potential of starting over or just ending it. Caleb’s story of the frenzied miner looking him in the eye just before leaving him alone and dying is a lie similar to Loomis’ complicit lie of not revealing the killing of Jacob. Caleb killed to survive in the mine and represents the evil in humanity. The eye contact at the waterfall is a re-visit of Caleb’s recognition that he is a killer when it comes to survival. Loomis recognizes the restart of humanity will be with a killer. He decides to end humanity by letting Caleb fall. But will humanity really end if by God’s will Ann is pregnant with twins.
    I loved this movie and the opportunity to consider all of the possibilities based on the information provided. I didn’t have time to read all of the comments and was hoping someone else saw it he way I did. It is fun to be mentally stimulated.

  80. Matthew Skiba

    I didn’t know anything about the book or the film until I happened to catch it on cable and was interested because Margot Robbie is in it so I figured it was worth a chance. I was almost immediately enthralled with what was going on as I missed the very top of the film (I saw from where she sees him screaming from the cliff after stripping the suit and they first meet). It didn’t take long to realize that he wasn’t paranoid about a non-existent threat but that something catastrophic had happened. The acting by all three was nuanced with such subtle yet powerful acting and I thought it was incredible. When they lock eyes at the top of the waterfall after his second slip I knew he was going to let him drop. The Bible and glass pushed off the table confirmed that for me, as did Caleb’s sudden departure (and the fact that it was later admitted her brother was killed by you-know-who). There is very little question in my mind he was intentionally dropped to his death and buried somewhere out there and that it was al about to go up in flames…but enough doubt to find myself here. I thought it was incredible and appreciate your theories. I managed to catch myself skipping over the book/film comparisons you made as I now HAVE to read it. THANK YOU! I’m always interested in a fellow filmophile’s theories and opinions.

  81. Nabeel

    First time to watch it and I loved it, and all comments, loom is killed him of course, 2 guys one girl was never gonna work. I’d keep the scientist too 🙂

  82. Ray

    Actually I think when Ann pushed the glass off the table with the Bible she was showing that she was the Bible because if it wasn’t for her actions John wouldn’t have killed Caleb she was the one that was responsible for Caleb’s death

  83. Rej

    The one scene that doesn’t quite fit in this movie is near the end when Ann is at the table and pushes the glass over. The symbolism is striking, but if you notice, she appears to be wearing a fairly heavy sweater. The window is open and the breeze is blowing some sort of seeds through the air. Is this now the Fall season after all that transpired during the Summer? Although it’s out of order considering the concluding scene, the kitchen table scene definitely gives the feeling of being a sort of epilogue. Has Ann come to grips with and accepted what Loomis did? Or is Loomis somehow out of the picture now, leaving Ann all alone once again? We certainly don’t know for sure. But here distant gaze in this scene is definitely reminiscent of how she looked at the beginning of the film. Maybe she feels alone without actually being alone.


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