The Desperate Hour Ending Explained: Who Is The Shooter?

Originally titled ‘Lakewood,’ ‘The Desperate Hour’ is a thriller film directed by Phillip Noyce that showcases a mother’s turmoil after getting news of a shooting at her son’s high school. The film stars Naomi Watts at its center as Amy Carr, a widowed mother still dealing with her husband’s passing. On a regular day off from work. Amy encourages her teenage son to return to high school to regain some semblance of normal. However, after she leaves for a run in the woods, she learns about an active shooting at Noah’s school, Lakewood. Miles away from her kids, Naomi spirals out of control as she desperately tries to save her son’s life. If you’re curious to see how this intense situation unfolds for the Carr family, here is everything you need to know about the ending of ‘The Desperate Hour.’ SPOILERS AHEAD!

The Desperate Hour Plot Synopsis

Two days before Amy’s husband, Peter’s one-year death anniversary, Amy takes a day off work to deal with her mental health. As a result, after sending Emily, her younger kid, to school and encouraging her depressed teenager, Noah, to do the same, Amy leaves for a long run near the woods. Even though Amy is for a run, looking for peace and quiet, her phone constantly rings, with co-workers, friends, and her mother reaching out to her for various reasons.

Along the way, Amy notices a string of cop cars driving toward the town, and shortly afterward, she receives a news alert about an incident at Lakewood. Fearing the worst, Amy contacts Emily’s teacher, Misses Fischer, at the elementary school and learns that Lakewood Elementary is safe. However, an armed individual is terrorizing several students at Lakewood High. When Amy tries to reach out to her son to confirm that he’s still at home, her calls continue to go to Noah’s voicemail.

Frantically Amy gets in contact with Dedra Wilkinson, a 911 operator who advises Amy to reach the community center where other parents are waiting to reunite with their kids. As such, stranded miles away from the school without a car, Amy starts running through the woods to cover the distance between herself and her kid. Still unsure if Noah is at the school, Amy calls her neighbor, Heather, to confirm. Still, she fails to get a concrete answer and ends up hurting her ankle due to her panicked jog.

Eventually, with the help of CJ, who works at the auto body shop near the school, Amy discovers that Noah’s white pickup truck is in the school’s parking lot. The same confirms Noah’s presence inside the school and agonizes Amy further. Moreover, due to the city-wide lockdown, Amy’s Lyft driver has trouble reaching her and asks her to meet up with him at a spot thirty minutes away from Amy’s location.

Things worsen even further when CJ informs Amy that the police have started searching Noah’s truck. Soon, Amy gets a call from Detective Ed Paulson, who asks Amy cryptic questions about Noah, like his mental health history and the possibility of him having access to firearms. Although the cop hangs up without divulging any new information about the incident, the encounter instills a horrifying doubt in Amy about her son’s involvement in the shooting.

Isolated and without any control over the situation, Amy tries to contact Noah again but only gets his voicemail. With no other option left, Amy tearfully leaves a message for her son, telling him about the cops’ suspicions. Although she doesn’t want to believe it, Amy begs her son to stop if he’s, in fact, the shooter behind the Lakewood incident.

The Desperate Hour Ending: Is Noah The Shooter?

Since the film only centers on Amy’s experiences, the viewers don’t really have a firm idea about Noah’s character. From the brief glimpse into his life, we can tell he’s wrecked over his father’s death and struggling to cope with everyday life. Moreover, he’s also been having a hard time at school. Hence, he’s reluctant to attend classes anymore.

Therefore, given the fact that Amy has hunting rifles in her house, it’s not far-fetched to believe Noah may be the unnamed shooter. Even though Amy keeps the guns locked in cases, Noah may have figured out the code and stolen the weapons. Worse yet, since he used to go hunting with his dad, he’s bound to have an understanding of how firearms work.

Although the evidence is circumstantial, it presents a theory that is compelling enough that it even convinces Noah’s own mother. However, when Noah returns Amy’s call, scared and hiding from someone, the theory starts to dispute itself. Soon enough, Amy talks with Detective Paulson again and realizes Noah is not a suspect. Still, her son’s life isn’t out of danger.

Although many kids and teachers escaped the school with the help of the deployed S.W.A.T. team, five people were still inside the building. The cops searched four other cars aside from Noah’s to get a better picture of the suspect and the victims left inside the building. Even though Paulson declines to share the shooter’s identity for safety reasons, he confirms that Noah is not the prime suspect and the shooter is likely not a student.

Who Is The Shooter?

Paulson’s refusal to share the shooter’s identity doesn’t prevent Amy from digging into the same. Since her kid’s life is on the line, Amy is desperate to do something to help, unable to stand by on the sidelines quietly. Due to the same, she constantly keeps moving through the woods, even with an injured ankle.

CJ, the mechanic, recognizes this desperation within Amy and agrees to help her out. Utilizing his close proximity to the school, CJ notes down the number plates of all the cars that the police were investigating. Since the police search five cars and there are only five people remaining in the building, Amy realizes one of the cars must belong to the shooter.

After running the plates through the database, CJ retrieves a list of names belonging to all the car owners and texts a photo of them to Amy. Upon acquiring that information, Amy contacts Heather, whose daughter McKenzie was inside the school but managed to flee the scene. Given McKenzie’s involvement in the school yearbook committee, the teenage girl is familiar with almost everyone.

Therefore, Amy reads the list to McKenzie to discover the infiltrator: Robert John Ellis. Using her contacts at the State Taxation office, Amy contacts her coworker, Greg Minor, who looks up Ellis’ personal information for Amy. Afterward, Amy finds a video of Ellis online and realizes that he used to be a former Lakewood student.

Furthermore, a few months ago, Ellis worked as a food service worker at Lakewood High. During Ellis’ employment, the school kids often ridiculed him behind his back. Although not much is known about Ellis’ motives, the ostracization he received from people who were likely his underclassmen played an instrumental role in his violent outburst. As a result, Ellis takes out his anger at life by going after the kids at Lakewood.

Does Noah Die?

Shortly after Amy solves the mystery of the shooter’s identity, she arrives at Route 138, the meetup spot she and her Lyft driver agreed on. After the driver spots Amy in the middle of the road, she’s finally able to get a ride to Noah’s school. On the ride over, Amy recklessly calls Ellis to try and deflate the situation even though trained professionals at the scene are already doing the same.

At first, Ellis is confounded to receive a strange call from Amy and suspects her of being a cop. However, Amy desperately tries to empathize with Ellis to talk him out of continuing his violence. Somehow, Amy starts to get through to Ellis, who admits to Amy he just wants everything to stop, presumably referring to his inner turmoil more than his deadly reaction. Still, whatever progress Amy makes is ruined when Ellis hangs up on her to continue terrorizing his four hostages, including Noah.

Afterward, Amy gets a call from Paulson, who has access to all phone calls coming through to the building. Consequently, he admonishes Amy for reaching out to Ellis since the shooter has refused to talk to the police after suspecting Amy of working with them. Nevertheless, after the police fail to communicate with Ellis, Paulson asks Amy to call the shooter again to distract him while the S.W.A.T. team that is going in to rescue the hostages.

Amy manages to keep Ellis on the line for a few moments before he grows suspicious again and hangs up. By then, Amy has arrived at the school and frantically rushes to reach the front of the barricade. In the meantime, Noah video calls Amy, who watches as Ellis finds Noah hiding in the French Room. Over the phone, Amy hears Ellis open fire at the students before her phone finally runs out of charge.

Ultimately, Amy can’t do anything but wait at the barricade with her heart in her throat. The SWAT team exits the school with the survivors, including Noah. The mother and son finally reunite in a tearful embrace and return to their home in comfortable silence. The following days are difficult for Noah, who remains bed-bound, too mentally exhausted to do much else.

However, as time passes, Noah reconciles with his experience and starts to open up. A hundred days after the incident, Noah manages a successful social media account talking about his experience as a school shooting survivor. By spreading awareness about such incidents and advocating against them, Noah finally starts to heal.

Read More: Is The Desperate Hour on Netflix, HBO Max, Hulu, or Prime?