'The Strays' Ending Explained: Did Carl actually kill Ian?
Spoilers ahead for 'The Strays'
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA: Netflix's psychological thriller movie 'The Strays' that deals with social and racial issues, privileged living and more. The Nathaniel Martello-White directorial stars Ashley Madekwe in the lead in this 1 hour and 37 minutes thriller. 'The Strays' shows us a woman, Neve (Ashley Madekwe), living a perfectly curated life in suburbia, with her husband Ian (Justin Salinger) and her kids Sebastian (Samuel Paul Small) and Mary (Maria Almeida). She works hard to maintain the posh life she has created for herself and does not want to embrace any of her heritage or have anything to remind her of her past in her new life.
Things start to go sideways when the past life that she abandoned comes to haunt her, figuratively and literally! After the appearance of her abandoned children Dione (Bukky Bakray) and Carl (Jorden Myrie) from her past life, instead of dealing with them directly, she has an emotional outburst. She wants to protect her new life so much that she even tries to pay off her children by writing them a check for 20,000 pounds. This, however, backfires, as it leads to a series of unfortunate events that put Neve in a similar situation that she faced at the beginning of the movie. However, Netflix's thriller movie has left us with several unanswered questions, including "Did Carl actually kill Ian?" and "Is Neve really gone?".
'The Strays': Ashley Madekwe steals the shows with her hypnotic performance in Netflix thriller
'The Strays': 5 nerve-wracking horror-thrillers to watch on Netflix before movie drops on streamer
Did Carl actually kill Ian?
In what can be tagged as the tensest moment of the movie, the final chapter, which sees the family reunion of Dione and Carl, the abandoned children of Neve, who enter her house in the middle of the night and expose her true identity as Cheryl.
Carl breaks Ian's nose when the latter tries to calm him down. Dione wants to celebrate her birthday and makes the whole family team up and play scrabble. Carl and Dione point out the unnecessary lavishness in Neve's home and Carl asks Ian whether he works out. Ian replies he does not, to which Carl points out the needless gym room at the house. The stress increases and while playing scrabble, Carl takes Ian to the home gym to make him lift weights. However, Ian can't handle the heavy weights for long and Carl leaves Ian to crash himself with the weights. The scene cuts and we don't get any mumbling or even a whisper from Ian afterwards. This leads to the horrifying implication that he is dead.
Is Neve really gone?
After Carl insists on having Chinese food for the whole family to celebrate Dione's birthday, Mary calls UberEats as the restaurant is closed. In the meantime, Carl takes Ian to the home gym, leaving Neve, Sebastian, Mary and Dione in the dining room. When the delivery boy comes, Neve answers the door and collects the food. And when the delivery boy asks Neve if everything is okay owing to the sounds of Ian's struggle with weights, Neve asks him to wait and collect his tip. Neve asks Sebastian where her purse is and Sebastian says it's in the wardrobe. Neve goes up and comes back with her purse and jacket. Taking a look into the home gym from afar, Neve goes out the front door, locks it and goes on the bike with the delivery boy, leaving the family once and for all. Neve repeats the same move she did about 20 years ago when she left her family in London. Now, Neve does the same thing again, much to the shock of all her kids.
Though the movie has not answered several questions like what happened to Neve's former husband, whom she called an abusive, bad person, and the future of Dione, Carl, Mary and Sebastian, 'The Strays' has successfully managed to depict the horrifying reality of a woman, who wants to live a life she wants in a pre-determined society. The internalized racism, the fear of Neve being exposed and Neve's only solution to all her critical problems by running away would make the viewers think about the social issues, social pressures and the deepening harrowing effects it has on people.
'The Strays' is streaming exclusively on Netflix.