Wild Things (1998) Ending, Explained: Does Suzie Ever Get Caught?

Helmed by John McNaughton, ‘Wild Things’ is a crime mystery thriller film that’s a roller coaster ride of twists and turns whose outcome many may not be able to predict. McNaughton’s previous directorial endeavors have included the likes of crime comedy feature ‘Mad Dog and Glory’ in 1993 and his 1986 critically acclaimed biographical crime drama ‘Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer.’ Over the years, ‘Wild Things’ has gained cult classic status after initially being undermined by critics. It came out during a time when sex crime thrillers were at a pinnacle. Due to the film’s popularity and its many plot twists, viewers may have several unanswered questions. SPOILERS AHEAD

Wild Things Plot Synopsis

The film follows Sam Lombardo (Matt Dillon), a guidance counselor at a local Florida Blue Bay area school. In a surprising turn of events, being a well-respected educator in the institution, two students he regularly interacts with, Kelly Van Ryan (Denise Richards) and Suzie Toller (Neve Campbell), accuse him of rape. Assigned to the case is Detective Ray Duquette (Kevin Bacon), who gradually figures out there is something fishy about the whole situation.

However, as the story unfolds, numerous underlying intentions and treacherous schemes come to light, involving almost everyone in the proceedings. The narrative twists and turns, revealing convoluted and unpredictable developments that one wouldn’t expect.

What was Sam’s Plan to Get the Money?

As Sam gets accused of rape by Kelly first and then Suzie, he seemingly is at his lowest point, being criticized and threatened for actions he claims he has not done. He approaches Ken Bowden (Bill Murray), a public defender, but the odds are against them as Ken admits they are up against highly-paid seasoned lawyers on Van Ryan’s side. Additionally, Suzie’s last-minute testimony has further added fire to the flame. The film here showcases Ken’s ingenuity as he figures out that Suzie had been in touch with Sam even after he raped her. He presents this information during the court hearing when Suzie takes the oath with the logic that no rape victim would get back in contact with the person who raped them.

Accusing her of lying, Ken reveals to the court that Suzie was previously sentenced to 6 months in a correctional facility for possession of narcotics. He explains to Suzie that if she’s not telling the truth, the officials will take her back into custody. Suzie gets flustered and fearful of the consequences as she can no longer hide the truth. She admits that the rape allegations were all a ruse planned by Kelly to get back at Sam and her mother. The court’s reactions erupt into chaos at this new revelation as Kelly gets agitated and throws a glass in the direction of Suzie but is quickly apprehended by the police in the court.

To Sam’s relief, Ken is able to manage the unthinkable as the court dismisses the case altogether. A settlement of 8.5 million dollars, which Kelly’s mother, Sandra, must now pay, is now agreed upon between the plaintiff and the defendant. The settlement is made, which pays off Ken’s charges and makes Sam’s miserable position into one of overnight wealth.

However, in a grand twist, it is revealed that Kelly and Suzie were both in it for the money. They had planned with Sam to create a scenario where Sandra would be forced to pay a large settlement amount. In a scene where Kelly and Suzie meet up with Sam at a local motel, the trio’s real intentions are revealed. They were to lie low until the money came into Sam’s bank account, and then he would split the money equally between the two girls.

Kelly, who hates her mother, is to receive a large inheritance from her grandfather but will only receive it after the passing of her mother. The fake rape allegation is the only way she can get the money without her mother’s death. Suzie’s intentions are yet to be revealed, but in a final twist, they are made known. Sam is neck-deep in debt and needs the money to pay off his mortgage, or he will have nowhere to live.

At this time, Detective Ray Duquette is still not convinced about the court’s decisions and begins doing some digging of his own. He theorizes that Kelly and Suzie have teamed up with Sam in some way to split the money amongst themselves but doesn’t have the proof. In separate scenes, he confronts both Suzie and Kelly, letting each of them know what he thinks. Kelly does not budge, but Suzie begins to panic. She goes to Kelly’s house, telling her that the detective is onto them. At this moment, Kelly tries to comfort Suzie and calls Sam to tell him about the situation. In the bushes, Duquette is recording the incident with a camera. The next day, Duquette presents the footage to his superior, who warns Duquette not to meddle in a closed case.

In the following sequence, Kelly takes Suzie out for drinks, and then they meet Sam at a hidden beach at night. Sam uses this opportunity to kill overly intoxicated Suzie and cover up the scene by dumping her body in the marshes. The next day, Suzie is reported missing, and Duquette, who is hot on their trail, obtains information from one of Sam’s students about the location of the hidden beach. At the beach, he finds traces of blood and teeth and immediately calls for backup. He sends the blood samples to be traced, and it turns out to be Suzie’s.

Convinced that Sam killed Suzie, he sends his partner, Gloria Perez, to spy on Sam in his motel room. Sam catches her and shares some crucial information about Kelly and Suzie. She calls Duquette, who is stationed outside Kelly’s house, about the information, but Duquette is convinced that Sam has something to do with it and barges into Kelly’s house. Kelly, who is armed with a gun, shoots Duquette in self-defense, but Duquette fires back, killing the girl. The next scene shows Duquette giving his testimony about the incident, claiming that he went there to protect Kelly.

Duquette is dismissed from the police force, and his future retirement pension is withdrawn. During his court hearing, the police commissioner reveals the evidence that led to the conclusion of Kelly killing Suzie. According to the evidence, Suzie’s blood was also found in Kelly’s car, indicating that she killed Suzie, unbeknownst to the actual truth.

Following these events, Sam travels out of the country to finally enjoy his settlement money. Here, we witness another twist when Duquette walks out of Sam’s shower and reveals that he, too, was in on the plan. Sam confronts Duquette, telling him that he shouldn’t have killed Kelly, but Duquette convinces him that now all loose ends are cut off. Sam explains to Duquette, who is eagerly awaiting his share of the money and wants to be as far away from Sam as possible, that the bank will take two working days to make the transfer. Duquette is now forced to stay with Sam for a couple of days, and the two then head out on a boat ride to enjoy the sunny weather.

Here, Sam’s real intentions are displayed. He tries to kill Duquette by knocking him off the boat. When that doesn’t work, he tries beating him up, only to be finally shot at with a harpoon gun by Suzie, who emerges from below deck in another shocking twist. Duquette is then knocked off the boat and drowns to death. Suzie and Sam are left on the boat as they celebrate their exploits over a drink. Suzie hands one to Sam, and as he starts drinking it, he realizes the drink has been poisoned. Choking and losing control of himself, Suzie knocks Sam off the boat to his demise.

In the final scene, we understand that although Sam had implemented the plan, Suzie was the mastermind of the entire thing. The scene is a callback to a previous event when Suzie approaches Sam with incriminating evidence of his sexual affair with Kelly. Suzie presents the pictures to him, confronting him about how he was unavailable when she needed him the most. The film here implies that it had actually all begun with Suzie. She had planned to use the fabricated incidents to get to the settlement money and then gradually get rid of all her accomplices. In the end, she succeeded.

What Happens to Suzie?

At the end of the film, Suzie is revealed to be the mastermind behind the entire scheme, involving Kelly, Duquette, and Sam, all in their own capacities. While Sam was taking care of the operations, Suzie pulled the strings and told him what to do. In the final sequence, we see Suzie finally attain freedom as she sails away. The film doesn’t confirm what happens to Suzie, but it is implied that since she is now legally dead in Florida, she can freely move out elsewhere, which could include another country.

While moving aboard will be her ultimate intention, Suzie would need to forge relevant legal documents to do so. However, Suzie is described as a girl who could do anything if she put her mind to it. Considering she planned this entire escapade just so she could get money and get rid of the people she disliked the most, forging documents wouldn’t be as difficult for her as one would imagine. In all probability, Suzie would have moved out of the country under a new identity, restarting her life elsewhere. Even if she didn’t, she could move to a remote location inside the US and live her life however she felt fit.

Will the Truth Ever Come to Light?

Sam, Suzie, Kelly, and later Duquette outfox the police time and again, and the authorities have little to no idea of what really happened. While the film depicts Duquette as the one who was somewhat on their trail, he, too, turns out to be linked to their scheme. At this point, it is fairly clear that the police will not be able to piece together this puzzle as Kelly, Duquette, and finally Sam have all been murdered. With all accomplices dead, Suzie will be the sole keeper of their secret.

Still, things may turn out differently. If Suzie gets caught leaving the country under a different alias, the case will be reopened, and the search for Sam and Duquette will also begin. It would take a lot of digging, but their bodies would eventually wash up on the shore unless consumed by marine wildlife. In another scenario, Duquette’s partner and friend, Gloria Perez, could also be looking for him when she realizes that he’s missing. It isn’t likely that she would just give up on her friend after his termination from the police department.

Additionally, if Sam has relatives, friends, or loved ones, they, too, would ask the police about his whereabouts. Any one of these scenarios could reinstate a follow-up case in search of Sam and Duquette, whose bodies, if found, would be in relatively close proximity to each other, arousing more interest in the investigation. This would lead back to Suzie’s body, which was never found, hinting that Suzie may still be alive.

Although the film doesn’t confirm it, it is assumed that Suzie cuts herself and forcefully removes two of her teeth to fake her death. The cuts would provide the same blood that was found on the beach and in Kelly’s car. The teeth, if removed forcefully, would have tool marks visible to the naked eye, indicating that it was done on purpose. This in itself should have been enough for the investigators to ascertain that Suzie is, in fact, missing and not dead. It would take them several years to put the pieces together, but there is a slim possibility that the authorities eventually figure out what really happened to Suzie, Sam, Kelly, and Duquette. Until then, Suzie has nothing to fear and is free to live however she wants.

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