Adulterers Ending, Explained: Did Sam Imagine The Whole Thing?

Directed by H.M. Coakley, ‘Adulterers’ is a 2016 drama thriller film revolving around a man’s frenzied hysteria after discovering his wife’s extramarital affair with another man. Samuel and Ashley Dueprey have been married for a year now. However, when Sam returns home on their anniversary, he finds Ashley having sex with another man on their bed. Devasted and beyond crazed by his wife’s betrayal, Sam holds Ashley and her secret lover, Damien Dexter Jackson, hostage at gunpoint. Working through his emotions, Sam becomes a threat to everyone in the room.

The film presents a gripping plot that comes to a close with a peculiar climax that may have confused some viewers. If so, here is everything you need to know about the ending of ‘Adulterers.’ SPOILERS AHEAD!

Adulterers Plot Synopsis

In the intense heat of New Orleans, Sam Dueprey drives to work on his one-year marriage anniversary after his boss assigns him a double shift at work. During his morning shift, Sam gushes about his wife, Ashley, to his coworker Lola, considering himself lucky to have ended up with Ashley. As such, he decides to drive home during his lunch break to surprise his wife with flowers and dark chocolate. However, once he arrives home, he hears noises from the bedroom and apprehensively approaches the door.

Inside, Sam witnesses his wife cheating on him with a stranger. The sight devastates him and sends him into a violent rage. After procuring two guns from downstairs, Sam barges into his bedroom while Ashley and her lover scatter away from each other. Although the two try to calm him down, Sam instantly shoots them both, killing them at once.

However, after a moment of respite on the living room couch, Sam realizes he had only imagined the murders in his head. Now Sam enters the room with a different mindset and only holds Ashley and the other man at gunpoint. While Ashley tries to apologize for the infidelity, Sam boards up the room with the dresser and starts interrogating the two.

In the tense and dangerous conversation that follows, Sam learns the other man, Damien, met Ashley on the internet under a pseudonym and has been seeing her for six weeks. Sam also inquires about the intimate details of their sex life and forces Ashley to perform sexual acts on Damien to humiliate her. Soon, Sam also learns Damien is financially well-off with a wife and kids and has been a serial cheater for a long time.

Meanwhile, at the hardware shop, Sam’s boss, Jimmy, inquires about him from Lola, who starts to get concerned about his whereabouts. Back at the house, Sam makes Damien call his wife, Jasmine, and confess about his affair on speaker. Although Jasmine has forgiven Damien for such behavior in the past, the news wrecks her this time. When given the choice to choose whether or not Sam kills Damien, Jasmine decides to speak with Sam privately, and the two hatch a plan.

Shortly after, Jasmine arrives at the house. As retribution, Sam and Jasmine have sex with each other in front of their spouses. Afterward, Jasmine leaves, declaring Damien is already dead to her. Although Ashley is ironically angry with Sam for cheating on her, she tries to encourage Sam to drop the hostage act claiming they can work through things together. As a result, Sam presents Ashley with the opportunity to save herself by killing Damien. Although Ashley points the gun at Damien, Sam stops her before she can pull the trigger, satisfied with her willingness to do so.

In the end, Sam empties all but one bullet from the gun and points it at Damien in a game of Russian roulette. After killing Damien, Ashley, having made up with Sam, enjoys the dark chocolate he got her. The couple prepares a grave in their backyard to bury Damien, but soon Ashley disappears. In shock, Sam blinks back into his living room with a troubling realization.

Adulterers Ending: Did Sam Imagine The Whole Thing?

At the film’s beginning, Sam’s instant reaction to discovering his wife’s infidelity is to bring out his guns and shoot both Ashley and Damien without giving them a chance at forgiveness. However, after committing the murders, Sam seemingly realizes that the split-second decision to kill Ashley and her lover is only a fantasy in his mind. Afterward, he confronts them with a different approach in real time.

However, as the story ends, Sam and the audience realize that Sam’s initial action, killing Ashley and her lover, is actually real, and everything else that happens after that is something his mind imagines. Since Sam seems to love his wife so much, it really messes with his head when he finds out that his wife is betraying him by sleeping with another man. With his emotions colored by rage, Sam immediately jumps to violence and kills Ashley alongside the other man.

By killing Ashley before giving her a chance to explain herself, Sam is unable to get any closure. As such, his brain crafts a different narrative, in which Sam would have asked questions that could help him move on in the future. Therefore, in his imagination, Ashley is borrowing money from Damien and planning to buy Sam a new guitar with it. The idea is meant to console Sam by giving him something to hold on to explain away Ashley’s affair.

Likewise, Sam imagines Ashley’s lover, Damien, as a wealthy man who is unfaithful to his own wife to an extreme level. Sam also imagines Damien as someone who was unpopular in high school and had to pay a sex worker to lose his virginity at eighteen. In Sam’s head, all these details make him feel superior to Damien, both morally and socially, which in turn helps Sam justify his murder.

However, once that fails to be satisfactory, Sam doubles down on it and imagines more backstory for Ashley and Damien. In his imagination, Ashley shares her secret traumatic past where she was repeatedly raped by her father’s boss as a teenager while her father, aware of the same, ignored it for his own benefit. These details are fabricated and likely never happened since Ashley never told him about it when she was alive.

Instead, it’s a messed-up crutch for Sam to hold on to, who can forgive his wife only if he can convince himself she’s as broken as he is. Nevertheless, the fantasy ends, and Sam realizes he lives in a different reality. Everything that has happened after Sam killed Ashley and Damien is a figment of his imagination presented as a what-if to a terrible situation.

Are Ashley And Damien Dead?

Ashley and Damien die when Sam shoots them after he discovers them having sex in his house. Since most of the film occurs after that event, Ashley and Damien are dead for the entire story. In fact, everything about Damien, from his marriage to Jasmine and his career as a jet fighter, even to his name, are all imagined details.

Given Ashley’s interest in Damien, Sam imagines Damien as a man who has everything Sam doesn’t. Sam is a customer service worker making minimum wage, so Damien has a lot of money. Damien used to be a fighter pilot because Sam wanted to become one when he was a kid. Similarly, Damien has a nice relationship with his mother because Sam’s mother left his father for another man when he was young.

Everything about Damien is a lie created to help Sam understand why Ashley cheated on him. Instead, in reality, Sam doesn’t even know Damien’s name and makes up his military tactical nickname, “Flash Jackson,” by some arbitrary detail from his day. The Damien that the audience knows doesn’t actually exist since he dies early in the film’s first act.

Likewise, Ashley is also dead the minute Sam finds her cheating on him. Even though Sam tries to scramble for a way to keep her alive, it’s far too late for it. Due to the same, In his dream world, Ashley proves her love and loyalty to him by showing him she would kill Jackson for him. As a result, Sam finds a reason to forgive Ashley and move on. Nevertheless, by delivering Ashley’s death without a second chance, Sam effectively fails to give Ashley a chance to prove any of those things.

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