Nightmares and Daydreams Episode 1 “Old House” Ending Explained

Joko Anwar’s Indonesian horror mystery ‘Nightmares and Daydreams’ is an anthology series that presents stories about different people coming across eerie phenomenons that lead to each character’s life spiraling out of control. The pilot episode revolves around a taxi driver, Panji, who begins to see his aging mother, Ranti, as a burden around the house. Consequently, after a nursing home makes the suspiciously convenient offer to look after his mother free of charge, Panji grabs the opportunity and leaves Ranti at the establishment. However, as his guilty consciousness begins to set in, the taxi driver realizes the mysterious forces within the old-age home may have ensured his permanent separation from his mother. SPOILERS AHEAD!

The Mystery Behind the Old-Age Home

Panji’s path crosses with the mysterious nursing home due to a customer who makes regular trips from the establishment to the market. Although the customer, a nurse named Navya, warns Panji against his interest in the nursing home, telling him off for wanting to get rid of his old mother, the taxi driver’s interest in the idea doesn’t falter. Moreover, noticing his interest, the owner even offers to provide their caregiving services for his mother without any payment. Even though the offer feels dodgy from the start— even to his wife, Rara—Panji can’t help but consider it an option.

Eventually, after Ranit, Panji’s mother with short-term memory problems, accidentally puts her grandson Hagi’s life in danger, Panji makes his decision. In the face of Ranti’s pleas against her son’s abandonment, the latter insists that the nursing home can give her access to every resource that he himself lacks, such as doctors and medicine. Consequently, despite numerous warnings by his wife, Navya, and the concerned son of another resident, the taxi driver leaves his mother at the nursing home.

Nonetheless, the following night, Panji’s conscience begins to weigh down on him. Therefore, freaky nightmares compel the man to drive down to the old age home to bring his mother back. However, at the establishment, he only receives empty, calming platitudes clearly meant to drive him away. Yet, rather than giving up, Panji decides to sneak around the building to try and find Ranti, regardless of the staff’s words. While he doesn’t find his mother, he ends up finding a secret passageway that leads to a room, where he finds a man bound to a bed. The man— similar to Panji— left his mother at the establishment before doubts brought him back to the place.

Panji decides to bide his time and hide in dark corners as he watches a group of robed people take the prisoner away to a ceremonious hall in the basement. There, the cult reveals two demons attached to a giant wall. As demonstrated by the prisoner and his resident old mother, the demons work together as one sucks the life out of a person, and the other uses that energy to restore the youth of that particular individual’s parents. Although the demons’ origins remain shrouded in mystery, it becomes clear that the nursing home, created for rich older people, has been using the demons to steal their kids’ youth and replenish their own lifetimes. Occasionally, the establishment reaches out to poorer customers to use the magic on their parents and indebt them as workers around the old-age home. Consequently, after watching the prisoner’s life drain out of his body while his elder mother returns to her youthful prime, Panji realizes that the establishment has identical plans for him and his mother.

Does Panji Die? What Happens to His Mom?

Once Panji discovers that his and his mother’s future is in peril within the nursing home walls, he attempts to make a break for it and escape the establishment with Ranti. He ends up finding unexpected help from Navya, the nurse who was once a resident of the old-age home. Since Navya used to be an old woman who regained her life by accepting her son’s sacrifice, she can’t help but feel extremely guilty about her existence. Unlike the richer folks, Navya was brought into the place to be trapped as a worker, bound to the actual residents’ will. Therefore, she detests her existence and chooses to help Panji to make sure Ranti can escape a similar fate.

However, a significant opponent lies in Navya and Panji’s paths: the Banished. The ritual that transfers a kid’s youth to their parent has the possibility of failure if either party refuses to give in to the procedure. Thus, if the ritual fails, it turns both parties into horridly malformed cannibalistic monsters whom the nursing home uses to protect their cult. Nevertheless, while these creatures are cruel, they lack a sense of sight. For the same reason, Navya hands Panji her cultish robes to hide his scent as he goes searching for his mother. Although he succeeds in the quest, Navya ends up sacrificing herself to save Ranti and her son from a pack of the Banished.

Eventually, even that sacrifice goes in vain once the cult members catch up to Panji and his mother before they can escape. Panji attempts to beg for their freedom and even resorts to insulting the group’s morals. However, given his own actions of abandoning his mother, the cult reminds him he has little high ground to stand on. Ultimately, Panji and Ranti are tied to the age-sucking demons who begin the procedure of youth transfer. Predictably, the son tries to resist the same even once “the whisperer” attempts to coax out his compliance.

In the end, Panji finally asks his mother what she truly wants— giving her the choice he has been robbing her of from the beginning. In response, Ranti asks her son to take care of his family, signaling her acceptance of her situation and rejecting the idea of stealing his youth for herself. As such, Panji whips out the lighter he always keeps in his pocket and sets the ritual hall on fire. The same triggers the demons to exhale fire of their own that ends up destroying the entire establishment. Although Panji attempts to save his mother, her close proximity to the demons prevents rescue. Ultimately, Panji emerges as the sole survivor.

Is The Demon Dead?

Although the demons at the nursing home form a crucial element within the story, their existence remains unexplained in the narrative. While the characters generally understand that the twin demons likely come from some hellish realm, no one has any exact knowledge about their origins. Considering the cult is only interested in maintaining their youth and lifelines, they are unbothered by the demons’ mysterious nature.

Given the demons’ existence in the lower levels of the expansive nursing home, it is likely that they have always been a part of the building. Perhaps, for the same reason, the rejuvenated elders are confined within the establishment’s premises so that they can remain under the demons’ magical influence. Alternatively, it is also possible that decades ago, some desperate residents performed a summoning to bring the demons into the human realm. Either way, the demons’ ties to the establishment remain certain.

Thus, it’s ironic that the demons end up becoming the reason for the establishment’s destruction. Alongside their youth restoration powers, the demons also breathe fire when provoked. For the same reason, once Panji sets fire to a curtain, it provokes the demons to engulf the entire hall into flames of fire. As a result, the entire establishment burns down to ash, killing every person who has lived on the demons’ sacrificial youth.

Even so, the establishment’s end doesn’t necessarily have to mean the end of the demons— as proven by the story’s ending shot, which finds tiny demon hands emerging from a mound of ash at the nursing home. Even though the nursing home is destroyed, the demons continue to live on. Since the demons could be put to immoral use if the wrong people discover them, their existence presents the threat of the establishment’s reincarnation. As such, the story’s ending symbolizes the cyclic nature of evil and its tempting tendrils.

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