Psychedelic, drug-induced trips have been used as devices to explore characters in movies a countless number of times. Often, movies like ‘Trainspotting‘ are directly about drug addiction while some films use an occasional drug-induced hallucination to portray something. However, there are very few movies that use a particular hallucinatory experience to craft a story with deeply introspective themes. The 2017 film, ‘Woodshock’ is one of them.
It is difficult to categorize ‘Woodshock’ into any single genre. Some have called it drama, while others have referred to it as a psychological thriller. A few people also likened it to a horror movie. However, one of the writer-directors, Kate Mulleavy said that horror was only an influence for the film, not the overall tone or mood. Kirsten Dunst plays the leading role in the movie. Other cast members include Joe Cole and Pilou Asbæk.
Woodshock Plot Summary:
‘Woodshock’ completely revolves around the character of Theresa. The movie begins with her lacing some pot with a poisonous substance and making her terminally ill mother smoke it. Her intention is to provide her mother with a peaceful escape from the world.
Then, she meets Johnny at her friend, Keith’s house party. Theresa works at Keith’s cannabis dispensary and has a boyfriend named Nick. One day, an elderly man named Ed wants some poison-laced cannabis and picks it up from Theresa. Johnny picks up some weed from the dispensary around the same time as well. However, Theresa ends up giving the poison-laced weed to Johnny, instead of Ed. As a result, Johnny dies.
This leads to Theresa’s mental health declining, causing her relationship with Nick to sour. She prepares multiple poison-laced joints in order to commit suicide. She takes a puff from the first joint, but it does not end up killing her. A few puffs from the second joint the next morning do not kill her either.
Smoking the third joint, however, gives her strong hallucinations and she ends up dismantling the fence outside her house with no recollection of the event. Later, Theresa ends up fighting with Nick and goes to meet Keith.
At his house, Keith tells Theresa that she should speak to Nick to lessen her pain. However, she refuses to do so. Keith threatens to tell Nick by calling him. However, Theresa ends up killing him with a hot iron that she beats his head with. After returning home, she smokes another joint and hallucinates going into the woods. There, she levitates to the sky, in the middle of tall trees. The movie ends with Theresa’s eye shutting.
Woodshock Ending Explained: Does Theresa Die?
The most burning question that audiences would have had at the end is whether Theresa actually dies or not. Well, it appears as if she does die. Firstly, the final scene sees her eye shutting. That ought to symbolize the fact that she ceases existing. However, a bigger clue is Theresa levitating to the sky in the middle of the trees. Earlier in the movie, Theresa is depicted to be having a similar hallucination. However, the hallucination is halted abruptly when Theresa “shakes herself” out of it. The fact that towards the end, Theresa gets that hallucination completely is an indication that she has died completely.
Several viewers would have also wondered why the woods keep appearing repeatedly in Theresa’s hallucinations. Well, a simplistic explanation is that Theresa stays in a place that is surrounded by a lot of vegetation. However, the connection is much deeper than that.
The movie attempts to show how grief makes Laura disconnect from her loved ones. Her relationship with Nick souring is the biggest indication of that. Hence, subconsciously, the only thing that she thinks would provide her with happiness is nature’s biggest symbol: trees. That is the reason she is depicted to be lying in fetal position amidst trees on multiple occasions. It is just easier for her to “return to nature” than be vulnerable and talk about her problems with her loved ones due to the number of complications associated with that.
Psychology has connected the fetal position to trauma because, for the body (and mind), it is the safest position. It is the body and mind returning to the simplest time of their lives: the womb. In many ways, Theresa also accepts death as a simpler alternative. That is the reason she levitates seemingly peacefully to the sky. Theresa dismantling the fence can be understood as her trying to take down the “boundaries” between her complicated life and the simplicity of nature.
It can be theorized that when Theresa smokes the poison-laced joint, she has finally accepted the fact that she wishes to commit suicide. The times before that, she had probably been swinging between accepting death and shying away from that decision. This is the reason she probably keeps returning to life. However, the final time, she fully accepts her choice of dying and does not “snap out” of her hallucination. It is entirely possible (because of the low dose of the poison) that the previous times she attempts to die, her slight doubt of returning to life actually pushes her back. However, towards the end, her complete surrender to death means that the poison kills her completely.
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