Netflix’s ‘The Conference’ is a Swedish comedy–horror film that drops an archetypical slasher killer into a coworker retreat, bridging the gap between corporate horror and a regular bloodbath. A group of municipal workers attend a team-building conference following public backlash about their project, a shopping center’s development in Kolarängen. However, their professional outing takes a turn for the worse when a killer shrouded in mystery starts dropping dead bodies around their hotel’s campgrounds.
This ensemble cast film follows an entertaining storyline with the narrative building its mysteries quickly and gradually uncovering them in due time. Therefore, if these mysteries have caught your attention, here is the truth behind them. SPOILERS AHEAD!
The Conference Plot Synopsis
The day before the groundbreaking ceremony of the Kolarängen Mall, the team helming the project arrives in town for a team-building retreat. Due to the general hostile sentiments of the citizens, the team, led by Ingela and team leader Jonas, stays at Jenny and Roger’s holiday village, one of the few establishments in support of the mall. Nevertheless, the spirits are high among the members, and Jonas is immensely proud of his achievement, eagerly awaiting tomorrow’s inauguration.
On the other hand, Lina, on the heels of an extended sick leave, is less enthused about the ordeal. Soon, when the team has their first meeting of the day, where Ingela shares her marketing idea for the neighborhood, the group’s inherent dysfunctionality comes out as they continue to bicker among themselves. Meanwhile, the struggling holiday village’s chef, Karl, leaves to make last-minute preparations for the upcoming meals but gets attacked by a mysterious figure in the middle of the woods.
Back at the meeting, Lina notices a discrepancy in the project files, spotting her signatures on a contract she doesn’t remember signing. Nevertheless, Jonas only shoots her concern down condescendingly. In fact, any time a team member tries to bring up a valid issue about the project, Jonas and Ingela consistently get defensive, inviting Lina’s suspicion. Eventually, during a string of teamwork exercises in nature, Lina returns to the cabins after backing out of a zipline activity.
While Lina snoops around in Jonas’ room, looking into the contracts on his laptop, the unknown killer continues to take down the hotel’s employees one after the other. As such, Lina, backed by Amir and Nadja, chooses the moment to confront Jonas about the incriminating evidence she found on his computer when nighttime rolls around and the team gathers for a relaxing celebration. However, simultaneously, the killer, wearing the Kolarängen Mall’s mascot, Sotis’s mask, finishes off the last of the staff workers and comes for Jonas’ team.
The first one to go is Jonas’ lackey, Kaj, whom the killer brutally murders in a hot tub with a chainsaw. Still, the team remains unaware of the vindictive killer among them until they see Ingela’s body hanging up from a flagpole. As the others gather outside and spot the killer, they scatter away, with Lina and Jonas retreating into the woods while the others hide inside the main cabin. What was supposed to be a night of revelry turns into a nightmare, with the mystery of the killer’s identity looming over the deadly night.
The Conference Ending: Who is The Killer? What Is Their Motive?
When the question of the killer’s identity arises, Frans is the natural suspect that the team arrives at almost unanimously. Frans used to work in the environment department and continued to be gravely frustrated over Jonas’ team project’s harmful environmental implications. Although he tried to divert attention to his concerns, the team never listened to him, leading to a psychotic breakdown wherein he attacked Ingela.
As a result, Frans was promptly fired from the office. The killer seems to obviously hold a vendetta against the Kolarängen Mall’s development, given their targeting of Jonas’ team and decision to don Sotis’ mask. Consequently, Frans comes on top as the obvious suspect. After the team disperses in hiding from the killer, Jonas and Lina end up running away in an unrefined raft made of planks and bottles. Jonas uses this opportunity to take Lina’s thumb drive from her, which holds evidence about his fraudulent project contracts.
Afterward, Jonas abandons Lina and takes off on his own, running into Annette, another coworker. From their encounter, Jonas learns that Anette shared the team’s location with Frans since the two continued to be friends after his departure from the office. The detail further enforces the theory of Frans being the one behind Sotis’ mask. Nonetheless, when Annette comes across the killer, she discovers a different truth after taking off the killer’s mask and finding a stranger behind it.
Predictably, Anette dies, and the killer continues their rampage. Still, on the other side of the campgrounds, Amir, Lina’s close friend, cracks the case after noticing a particular headline in the papers. While a plethora of people are protesting the mall’s development, one of them stands out: Pålssond son.
Pålssond was the farmer who owned the land where the Kolarängen’s shopping center was being built. The farmer was vehemently against the idea but ultimately lost the battle against the municipal workers. As such, after they tore down his family farm, Pålssond committed suicide. The same incident led to Frans’ violent outburst. While the team moved on from the tragedy, Pålssond’s son, who found his father hanging in their barn, continued to hold a grudge.
Therefore, now Pålssond’s son is here to exact his revenge on the people who drove his father to a heartbreaking end. Furthermore, the killer’s motives tie in well with Sotis, the mascot’s background, which prompts him to put on his mask. Sotis is meant to be a charcoal burner, a working-class individual who supplied coal for furnaces in the old days. Due to the Charcoal burners’ close connection to the forests, Sotis proposes a mascot, selected in bad taste since the mall is responsible for the forest’s destruction. Therefore, the Pålssond’s son takes the mask to use Sotis as a symbol of violent revenge against the Kolarängen mall.
Does The Killer Die?
While Sotis, the killer, exhibits exceptional skills in the art of violence by laying waste to numerous people with his various farming tools, it becomes harder for him to kill once people become aware of his presence. After the team knows to look out for the killer, they become more vigilant and desperate to save their lives. Nevertheless, the killer persists and accomplishes multiple more kills.
Furthermore, one of the workers, Nadja, decides to play it smart and finds a means of escape in the minivan the team traveled in. Although Nadja has to risk her life to retrieve the keys from Jonas’ room, she succeeds at the task with only one near-death encounter with the killer. Yet, the killer gets the last laugh by blowing the minivan up. Therefore, Nadja and the coworkers around her, Eva and Torbjörn, remain stranded in the holiday village.
Soon, they decide to take a chance and exit their cabin armed with whatever weapons they can find. Nevertheless, the killer catches up to them but fails to kill Nadja again, who manages to escape his bear trap. Meanwhile, Eva, perpetually nervous and stressed, tries to hide out inside the cabins. After Torbjörn comes looking for her, so does the killer, who attacks the other man, beating him to a pulp. However, Eva overpowers him on pure adrenaline and locks him in a supply closet.
Instead of running away, Torbjörn and Eva decide to put an end to the killer’s mania and kill him with the perfect weapon they can find: the golden shovel meant for tomorrow’s groundbreaking ceremony. Nonetheless, the killer oversmarts them. Thus ensues an amateurish but impassioned fight. In the end, Torbjörn saves Eva’s life by setting fire to the killer’s Sotis Mask but ends up trapped in the latter’s clutches, himself.
In the nick of time, Nadja, with her injured leg, manages to take the killer off-guard and beheads him with the golden shovel. The killer’s terror comes to an end, leaving dead bodies and survivors behind in equal measure.
What Was Jonas Hiding? What Happens to Him?
Throughout the film, Jonas remains a highly suspicious character, obviously antagonistic with his passive-aggressive attitude and laptop full of secrets. Due to his constant remarks about Lina and the discrepancies in his paperwork, Lina decides to investigate the man and finds damning evidence about his corruption. Within the documents on Jonas’ laptop, Lina finds various files proving his partnership with Backman-Kroon, a rival corporation.
Backman-Kroon intentionally set up the property’s sale, knowing the project would be a failure before it even got off the ground. To ensure things ran smoothly, Jonas forged Lina’s signatures on backdated contracts, planning to use her extended sick leave to prove their validity by pinning Lina’s confusion over the documents over her health. Furthermore, he even lied about the contracts with chain stores who showed interest in setting up shop at the Kolarängen mall.
As such, Jonas has been planning a weak project from the start that will bankrupt the entire community. Still, since Jonas will be working with the lucrative Backman-Kroon by then, he won’t have to deal with the fallout. As a result, Lina wastes no time confronting Jonas about this once she figures his plan out and holds the evidence as leverage to force him to back out of the project before they break ground over its development.
Nonetheless, the corporate corruption issue gets put on hold once the killer comes out in the open, sending the night into a spiral. After Lina’s unpleasant encounter with Joans, she and Amir try to escape from the forest and zipline across the lake. However, the adventure ends with Amir sacrificing himself for Lina after realizing the killer has set up measures against the zipline, ensuring a swift death for anyone trying to cross the lake.
Although Amir perishes, his sacrifice saves Lina, who manages to get hold of her stolen cell phone and contacts the authorities. In the end, while the police drive into the holiday village, Lina comes across Jonas in the forest, with the latter attacking her. Overwhelmed at the recent events and devastated at Amir’s death, Lina fights back against Jonas ruthlessly. Ultimately, Line gives Jonas a gruesome death, tearing off his scalp using the gory fresh scar on his head that the killer gave him.