The In Between Ending, Explained

Directed by Arie Posin of ‘The Chumscrubber’ fame, the science fiction romance film ‘The In Between’ is, above all, a  therapeutic exploration of the effect of grief on the human psyche. At the beginning of the movie, Tessa and her boyfriend get into an accident. Tessa wakes up in a hospital, and the story goes back 138 days to chronicle the inception of her love story.

The rest of the movie strives to reconstruct the fateful night while Tessa looks for closure in her life. In the process, she realizes that her lover may be trying to communicate with her from the titular in-between. The dreamy and serene film is painted with a murky white hue, and the score heightens the emotions. It has a happy ending, thanks to the preference of its hero, but some aspects remain unclear. If you wonder what went down in those last moments, let us decipher the ending. SPOILERS AHEAD.

The In Between Plot Synopsis

Tess and her boyfriend Skyler get into an accident, and Tess wakes up in a hospital bed. While the injury was severe, Dr. Rita Sarkisian informs that her right ventricle is functioning quite well, despite the tear. However, Tessa’s mind is in shambles after the death of Skyler. Tessa experiences strange phenomena, like her wrecked phone turning on by itself and showing her an image of a deck. Later, Skyler appears on her bed, and they walk out into bleak whiteness. The nurse tells Tessa about Doris, who is writing a book on the afterlife, and that she would like to hear Tessa’s account.

The story revisits the past to chronicle Tessa and Skyler’s short-lived relationship. As a photography student, Tessa has a penchant for movies, but she only likes films with sad endings. While watching a French movie without subtitles in the Avalon Theatre, Tessa meets Skyler, a dashing jock adept in Italian, French, and Spanish. Skyler translates the entire film for her, and they part ways without exchanging numbers. Thanks to Shannon’s insistence, Tessa meets Skyler in a rowing competition a month later. Skyler’s mother divulges how Skyler hunted for Tessa on the internet, to Skyler’s embarrassment.

However, Tessa saves the day by agreeing to go out with him. They go to a shack-like diner with a great view, and later, upon Tessa’s insistence, they take a tour of the abandoned hotel ‘Empyrean’ to listen to the ghosts of the newlyweds’ past. They share a kiss and another when Tessa finds out that Skyler is going to Brown University. As we get more glimpses into Tessa’s past with Skyler, the present story chronicles Tessa looking for closure. Skyler communicates with her from the “in-between” realm. Tessa tries to connect to Skyler, but Doris warns her that she may forever be stuck in the domain.

The In Between Ending: What Is the “In Between”? Can Tessa Establish Connection With Skyler?

The story builds on the concept of the “in-between.” Tessa visits paranormal expert Doris after receiving uncanny signals, presumably from Skyler. As Tessa holds a gloomy rational view about the world (and relationships), she is not keen on believing the possibility of After-Death Communications (or ADC). However, after receiving multiple signals, Tessa comes to terms with Skyler’s attempt to establish a connection with her. When she develops a photo of her face, Skyler’s face emerges by her side for a moment. However, as the fixer does not work, the images cannot develop into pieces of evidence.

However, Tessa’s hand acts involuntarily during the exam, ruining the OMR sheet. On cue, Skyler’s song, “Never Tear Us Apart” by INXS, starts playing on Tessa’s phone. To Tessa’s bemusement, the music begins playing on all the phones in the vast classroom. After the incident, even Shannon realizes that Tessa’s claim may have some truth. She starts reading extensively about the phenomenon of ADC. They try a couple of things, like planchette, looking at the mirror, and staring into the static TV screen wearing sunglasses. However, as they give up and walk out of the room, we see a shadowy figure emerging out of the static screen.

Tessa’s adopted mother Vickie wants the car to go to her workplace, and Tessa reaches home early. The car GPS resets by itself just around then, showing Tessa a map that has an uncanny resemblance to the pattern on the OMR sheet. After the revelation, Tessa puts the car on back gear and follows the map to Doris’ house. Doris knows that Tessa will come, as she knows that Skyler will contact Tessa again. From Doris, Tessa comes to understand that the spirits often visit places where they feel the most love, but her advice conceals a warning – Tessa maybe forever stuck in the in-between space.

Tessa makes a list of places where she spent intimate time with Skyler. Her search for Skyler’s spirit ends at the Empyrean, where they share their first kiss. After an out-of-body experience (which entails walking on the wall and Skyler’s phantom smashing the glass pane), Tessa becomes all the more desperate to speak with Skyler for one last time. Meanwhile, she gets back to the hospital since she has jeopardized her recovery by chasing Skyler’s ghost. In the end, Shannon and Tessa escape the hospital, and Tessa has a near-death experience on the accident site, visiting the titular in-between for a final goodbye.

Many cultures hold that the deceased’s soul roams around the earth for a while before leaving the realm. The concept of after-death communication is pretty old – and there are many accounts of such experiences around the world. Experiencing the phenomenon entails people seeing, hearing, or feeling the presence of their deceased loved ones in the living realm. You may smell their cologne or have delirious visions, or the dead may appear in your dreams. The Atlantic Paranormal Society, the organization behind the popular show ‘Ghost Hunters,’ claims to have collected 3300 accounts of ADCs. However, as the discussion veers towards a metaphysical and spiritual realm, we rarely rationalize such experiences.

Is Tessa Dead or Alive? Does Tessa Get Her Closure?

In the end, Shannon and Tessa escape from the hospital to meet the spirit of Skylar for one last time. Skyler’s spirit seemingly takes control of the car, sending Tessa and Shannon to the accident site. Tessa collapses on the road, having a near-death experience. Her spirit comes out of her body, greeting Skyler. Tessa thought she could not express her love for Skyler (which is why she can’t move past Skyler’s memory). However, the finale shows that she said those three words right before the accident.

Skyler and Tessa transition to other places, memories, and even Paris. While Skyler does not want to part with her, he believes in happy endings. Thus, Tessa wakes up in the hospital bed, as if from a dream – and she is alive. Respecting Skyler’s memory, Tessa also applies to Rhode Island School of Design. The finale sees her presenting her portfolio in front of the professors. Skyler’s ghost still follows her like a shadow, and you may perhaps notice him at the back of the auditorium. In the meantime, Tessa has gone through a healing process, and she does not hesitate to showcase her photographs or her view on the art form.

Read More: Where Was The In Between Filmed?