Netflix’s ‘The Strays’ is a horror thriller film written and directed by Nathaniel Martello-White, marking his directorial debut. It stars Ashley Madekwe (‘The Umbrella Academy‘) as Neve, a successful woman who lives a carefully curated life in an upper-class British suburb with her loving family. However, Neve’s life starts falling apart after the sudden arrival of two mysterious strangers. As Neve questions her sanity, she is forced to confront her past after learning the deep connection she shares with the two strangers. If you are looking for answers about Neve’s fate and the outcome of her dire situation, here is everything you need to know about the ending of ‘The Strays.’ SPOILERS AHEAD!
The Strays Plot Synopsis
‘The Strays’ opens with Cheryl, a distressed young woman speaking to her sister over the phone. Cheryl and her husband are facing financial difficulties, and Cheryl implies that her husband is abusive, but we see no signs of the same. The sister implores Cheryl to visit her, and Cheryl packs her stuff. She takes one last look in the mirror before walking away from her life in London and never turning back. Years later, we meet Cheryl as she resides in Combe, a town in the UK. She goes by the name Neve and has completely separated herself from her African-American heritage to build a life in the predominantly White suburb.
Neve is married to Ian Williams, a wealthy life insurance agent. The couple has two children, teenagers Sebastian and Mary. Neve is a popular figure among the local community and lives with her family in a luxurious house. Neve works as the deputy headmistress at the Castle Comb School, where her children also study. However, Neve starts feeling restless one day, and her car ends up in a minor accident. During dinner, Ian reveals he has hired a young black girl to work at his office. The next day, Neve sees a black man at her school and starts getting paranoid, especially after the man interacts with Sebastian.
In the evening, Mary returns home from a friend’s house sporting an African hairdo. Meanwhile, Sebastian does not return home following his basketball game, worrying Ian and Neve. Neve tries to get the black janitor fired from the school, believing he is a bad influence on Sebastian. However, she has to settle for a formal warning without a solid reason to fire the man. Later, the man confronts Neve in the washroom, implying that he is a product of Neve’s paranoia. However, Neve’s reservations turn true when the black man and a young black girl show up at her gala.
Neve confronts the man and the girl and tries to throw them out. However, everyone at the gala is shocked after the man addresses Neve as his mother. A series of flashbacks reveal the man and the girl are named Carl and Dione. They are Neve’s children from her previous marriage who have tracked her down after living in poverty. Carl and Dione integrate into Neve’s life by interacting with Sebastian and Mary. Dione works for Ian, while Carl works at Neve’s school. Initially, Carl and Dione act kindly towards their half-siblings but soon become jealous after seeing their extravagant lifestyle. Therefore, Carl and Dione decide to make Neve confront her past at the gala.
The Strays Ending: Does Neve Accept Carl and Dione? Why Did Neve Escape?
After Carl and Dione expose the truth about Neve, she is forced to confront her past. Neve abandoned her children and built a luxurious life for herself. She never looked back and left her children to fend for themselves. As a result, Carl and Dione are rightfully upset with their mother. At home, Neve explains the situation to her family and promises to come clean after dealing with Carl and Dione. Initially, she tries to hand them £20,000 to make up for her past mistakes and wants them to leave her life in the suburbs undistributed. Carl and Dione seemingly accept the money and leave Neve and her new family alone.
During the climax, Carl and Dione crash at Neve’s house to celebrate Dione’s birthday. The duo holds Neve’s family hostage and forces them to join the celebration. They order food and play a board game appearing to bond as a family. However, Carl loses his temper and kills Ian under the guise of working out. Meanwhile, the food arrives, and Neve excuses herself for tipping the delivery man. She collects her purse from her room and looks at herself in the mirror.
Neve escapes the night’s horror with the deliveryman to never return. However, before leaving, she apologizes to her children for her mistakes. The film ends just like it started, with Neve abandoning her children in a duress situation. She escapes into the night and refuses to take responsibility for her actions. Neve seemingly does not care about either set of children, and her apology appears shallow at best. Neve’s carefully curated life starts falling apart after the arrival of Carl and Dione.
However, Neve’s handling of the situation itself indicates that she does not care about her children from her first marriage. While Neve appears to care for Sebastian and Mary, her affection for them seems to be born from their role in her seemingly perfect life. The family photo we see as a recurring motif in the movie represents the same. However, after Carl and Dione disrupt her picture-perfect life, Sebastian and Mary serve no purpose for Neve. Thus, she shows no hesitation in abandoning them and escapes the consequences of her actions.
What Happens to Mary and Sebastian?
In the film’s final scene, we see Mary, Sebastian, Carl, and Dione reacting to Neve leaving the house. Her apology appears to be directed to Mary and Sebastian, who are left behind to face the consequences of their mother’s choices. The movie ends with Mary and Sebastian examining their fault in the fiasco and contemplating why their mother abandoned them. As a result, it is safe to say that Mary and Sebastian finally understand Carl and Dione’s pain. Thus, the final frame of the four half-siblings standing together holds significance.
Earlier in the movie, Carl and Dione integrate into Neve’s life by bonding with Sebastian and Mary. However, it turns out to be a ruse to gauge Neve’s new lifestyle, the one she abandoned them for. In contrast, the movie’s ending provides the half-siblings an opportunity to actually bond since they all share the pain of being abandoned by their mother. While the film does not hint at the consequences of Neve leaving Mary and Sebastian behind, it is safe to say she will never return for them. As a result, Mary and Sebastian are doomed, just as Carl and Dione were all those years ago.
Read More: Where Was Netflix’s The Strays Filmed?