Bottom Of The World Explained (2017 Netflix Film Analysis)

What on earth was that entire film about, you ask? Bottom Of The World is a 2017 psychological drama directed by Richard Sears. The plot follows Alex, who is searching for his girlfriend who goes missing after a night in a small town on Route 66. As his hunt progresses, his own reality becomes questionable. The cast of Bottom Of The World has Douglas Smith and Jena Malone (from Neon Demon) in the leading roles. This is Barry, welcome to my site and here’s the 2017 Netflix film Bottom Of The World explained, spoiler’s ahead. Thanks for the recommendation, Sally.

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Here are links to the key aspects of the movie:

What is Bottom Of The World about in a nutshell?

The story is about the guilt of a heinous crime committed by Scarlett leading her to become a depressed alcoholic, and finally taking her own life. The entire movie and its characters are presented from within Scartett’s subconscious. Yes, none of the characters in the film is real, they are all figments of Scarlett’s thoughts and feelings.

Bottom Of The World: Plot Explained

Who is Alex?

Alex is a portion of her conscience, her mental confession booth, the man in the mirror. The entire film is presented from the perspective of Alex, the part of her mind constantly trying to resurface Scarlett’s crime. In reality, Alex is Wayne, Scarlett’s cousin.

confession bottom of the world

The confession: What has Scarlett done?

When Alex, Scarlett’s conscience, asks her what the most terrible thing she’s done in her life is, Scarlett ends up bringing forth her guilt for murdering her cousin. And this was no quick kill. Wayne, her cousin, had full body paralysis because of a car accident. Scarlett, who was supposed to be taking care of him, subjected the boy to all kinds of torture over a long period because she thought it was fun. Eventually, Scarlett tossed him in a fire pit and then buried him alive. She blamed that event on a nonexistent intruder who killed Wayne and supposedly raped her. She basked in the pity and condolences that people gave her.

After telling one part of this story to Alex, she laughs it off. She’s not able to get to the portion where she murdered Wayne. She’s unable to face that part of her heinous past.

Unable to leave town!

I would reckon the town stands as a metaphor for the guilt of her crime. Every time they try to drive out, the guilt of not facing the consequences of her actions weighs down upon her. She says, “I feel like I’m being crushed and then I’m falling 1000 feet from the sky“. She’s reeled back by the town, unable to escape the guilt of murder.

Who is the preacher?

The preacher on the TV channel appears to be Scarlett’s father in real life. He represents the word of truth. The truth that Scarlett can never hide from the consequences of the crime she has committed. If you note the lines he recites, it’s all about how one needs to face their sins.

alex hooded man bottom of the world

Hooded Man The desert

Scarlet conjured up a fake mysterious hooded man who was responsible for Wayne’s death. This hooded man, this lie, now lives in the core of her subconscious. He is the part of Scarlett’s mind that is furious because of what she’s done. It’s the part of her psyche that wants her to pay the price for tormenting and taking an innocent, impaired boy’s life. When the hooded man says that he has buried Scarlett underground and yet she’s alive, he’s referring to the depression he has plunged Scarlett into.

What happens at the church?

When Scarlett disappears into the deeper crevices of her subconscious, the movie follows Alex, the part of her conscience looking for answers and closure. After a conversation with the preacher, Alex gets a little hint that he is part of Scarlett’s dream. The preacher then shoots Alex, who gets tossed from the church to a modern-day house living with his wife. Here, we see that Scarlett is his neighbour. While Alex still remembers Scarlett as his girlfriend, she treats him merely as a snoopy neighbour. This is Scarlett avoiding the voice of her conscience.

Scarlett neighbour bottom of the world

What’s the relevance of the rotten pea?

Alex is trying to assess if he is actually in someone else’s dream. He sorts through a can of peas and notices that one pea is rotten. Alex wonders why that would be so, why would Scarlett’s mind place one rotten pea? When people dream of a can of peas, they would all usually be fresh. Well, the rest of the peas is a facade for that one rotten thing that Scarlett has done.

The case with photographs

The case that Scarlett keeps locked away contains the news clipping about the mysterious hooded man and various pictures of Scarlett’s cousin. The folder is a set of repressed memories that are being unearthed by her conscience. Once Alex takes a look at the contents of the case, he realises what she has done. Alex knocks Scarlett’s father down and takes her to the location in the photograph with Wayne. This place appears to be her childhood home, where she murdered him.

Bottom Of The World: Ending Explained

The ending of Bottom of the World reveals that Scarlett had actually tortured and killed her cousin. She’s been struggling with depression ever since. Alex, in the form of Wayne, represents the final layer of her mind shielded from the truth. Being consumed by the agony of her actions, she decides to end her life. Alex unearthing Wayne’s bone, getting a confession from Scarlett, striking Scarlett with a shovel and burying her in the desert are all a metaphorical representation of Scarlett’s anguish and subsequent suicide. She wants to perceive her death as Wayne’s act of revenge. The film ends by disclosing that Alex and the Hooded Man were merely different parts of Scarlett’s conscience constantly amplifying her guilt, pushing her to commit suicide.