Helmed by Assaf Bernstein, ‘Look Away’ is a psychological horror film that follows Maria, a shy and timid high school student who struggles with challenges at home and school and suffers from loneliness. However, when her sinister mirror image contacts her and offers her help, the two switch places, which turns Maria’s life upside down. Driven by the impressive performances of India Eisley, Mira Sorvino, and Jason Isaacs, the 2018 film keeps the audiences hooked to the screens till the very end. It concludes with a revelation that leaves everyone shocked. As a result, viewers might be pondering over the ending of ‘Look Away,’ so here is an explanation of the same. SPOILERS AHEAD!
Look Away Plot Synopsis
Maria Brennan is a shy high school girl who often feels lonely. Her distant father, Dan, is too critical of her appearance and aloof behavior, and her mother, Amy, has her own battles to fight as she struggles with nightmares. Things aren’t much better at school, as she is constantly bullied by a boy named Mark. Her only friend is Lily, who also just pretends to be good on her face. Meanwhile, she also has a crush on Lily’s boyfriend Sean. Maria’s life takes a strange turn when she discovers a sonogram in her room that suggests she might have a twin. Soon after, her reflection in the bathroom mirror starts moving on its own, scaring the daylights out of her. She tries to tell her parents about it, but they don’t take her seriously. Then, Maria’s reflection begins to talk to her and reveals her name as ‘Airam.’
Airam is confident and charismatic, everything Maria wishes she could be. She even offers to take away Maria’s sadness and tells her she has always been there. Meanwhile, Dan gifts Maria a birthday present that turns out to be an offer for cosmetic surgery to fix what he sees as the flaws in her face. Devastated by this, Maria starts leaning more on Airam for support. At the school’s winter prom, things take a dark turn when Mark humiliates and physically hurts Maria in front of the whole class. She seeks refuge in the bathroom with Airam, who convinces her to switch sides with her. The two touch their palms and lips with each other through the mirror and exchange places.
Now, Airam is in control of Maria’s life and goes on to seek revenge on everyone who wronged her. She exposes Dan’s cheating in front of Amy and attacks Mark, smashing his knee with an ice hockey stick. She goes on to cause a tragic accident that kills Lily. Maria, trapped in the mirror, is horrified by what Airam is doing, but the latter refuses to switch back places. Airam’s behavior becomes even more reckless, and she starts a wild relationship with Sean by seducing him soon after Lily’s death. Meanwhile, the police investigating Lily’s death arrive at their school and ask for Sean and Maria. While Sean agrees to tell the police, Airam gets scared and strikes his head with a bottle, killing him instantly. She sits by the mirror, overwhelmed with guilt and sadness, crying alongside Maria. The rest of the events finally explain the real motive behind Airam’s actions.
Look Away Ending: Why Does Airam Kill Her Father?
The film’s events culminate with Airam killing her and Maria’s father, Dan. Though Airam takes Maria’s place by making her believe she wants to give her a better life, her real and ultimate motive is to seek revenge on Dan. In the flashback scenes, it is revealed that Airam is Maria’s twin sister who was born deformed. Dan, who prioritizes beauty over everything, decides to kill his own daughter in the hospital itself. His wife, Amy, pleads to let her baby live and cries for help. But Dan pays no heed to her, euthanizes the poor child, and buries her under the heap of snow outside the hospital.
However, contrary to Dan’s knowledge, Airam’s spirit attaches herself to her twin sister Maria and becomes her mirror image. Since she had no name at the time of her death, she came up with the name “Airam,” which is just “Maria” spelled backward, or a mirror image of her sibling’s name. At the film’s end, she reaches Dan’s clinic and pretends to be intoxicated. While Dan, thinking of her as Maria, tries to help her, she strips naked in front of him. Fuming with anger and resentment, she asks her father if she is beautiful and if he would still find her pretty if she was deformed. While Dan replies with a “yes,” Airam slits his throat. As he bleeds to death in front of her, she asks him why he could not love her.
And while Dan let Maria live as she was born normal, he could not prove himself to be a good father to the girl as well. He constantly makes remarks about Maria’s appearance and her shy and introverted nature and pushes her beyond limits to change herself and be more social. From forcing her to apply makeup to not listening to her concerns about her mirror image contacting her, Dan just does not care enough about his daughter. As a result, Maria’s relationship with her father is strained from the beginning. The situation even worsens when Dan, being a plastic surgeon, wants Maria to undergo cosmetic surgery to enhance her beauty. When Maria is confident that her father does not care about her, she agrees to let Airam take over. However, the girl certainly does not wish death upon her father and is betrayed by Airam, who kills him.
Does Airam Actually Exist?
Yes, Airam does exist for real. In the film’s final scenes, Airam calls for Maria through the mirror, but the latter is nowhere to be found. Frustrated, she even smashes a mirror and breaks it, but Maria still does not respond. The scene makes one think that Airam might not exist for real and is just an extension of Maria’s own personality, which represents her deepest and darkest desires. Since Maria could not change her fate on her own with her timid and shy personality, she probably chose to create an alter-ego named Airam.
However, things become clear at the end when Airam goes on to kill Dan and asks him if he would love her if she was deformed. Since Maria has no idea about her twin sister being killed by her father, the girl who goes on to seek revenge is definitely Airam. Additionally, in the first few scenes, Amy hears Maria conversing with Airam in the washroom. She hears two distinct voices and checks the washroom to see if somebody is hiding there. The incident makes it clear that Maria was actually talking to her sister through the mirror, and the latter is not just a creation of her mind. As for why Maria does not appear in the mirror when Airam calls her in the last few scenes because she is too devastated by the death of Sean and Dan and has given up on her real-world life.
Does Maria Remain Trapped in the Mirror?
Yes, Mariam remains trapped in the mirror world at the end. What initially started off as a deal to give Maria a better life soon turned into a sinister plot with Airam going on a murdering spree, killing everyone who wronged her and her sister. Throughout the film, Airam becomes increasingly dominant in Maria’s life. When they agree to swap places, Airam inhabits Maria’s body in the real world while Maria is trapped within the mirror. Airam’s actions become more erratic and destructive, culminating in a series of tragic events, including the death of Lily. Noticing that Airam is doing more harm than good, Maria pleads with her to switch back places and let her be in control of her own life.
However, Airam refuses to listen to Maria and continues to wreak havoc on her family and schoolmates. When Airam ends up killing Sean in a moment of desperation, she goes in front of the mirror and cries along with Maria. However, this is the last time she sees her sibling’s reflection in the mirror. After the murder of Dan, while Maria still remains trapped in the mirror world, she stops making efforts to communicate with Airam and to return to the real world.
Looking at all the destruction that Airam has caused in her life, Maria simply gives up and stays in the mirror world. In the final scene, where Airam goes and lies down with her mother, there is a mirror image that shows Maria lying down with her mother in the mirror world. The final shot is a montage of the two images, which portrays Amy resting with both of her daughters, showcasing her longing to be united with her children, the one whom she could not save at the time of her birth and the other who grew up to be an isolated and troubled child.
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