h0us3: Plot And Ending Explained (2018 Spanish Film)

h0us3 is a 2018 science-fiction psychological thriller independent film directed by Manolo Munguia. If you are a fan of movies like Coherence and The Man From Earth, you will love h0us3. The plot follows a group of friends having a reunion when the host discloses he’s made a discovery that can change everyone’s fate. I can’t give away more without spoiling it. The cast is brilliant, and I practically wanted to join their dinner party. The screenplay really shines, given the film is shot entirely in one location. This one is a very special article because I ran it past Manolo himself before presenting it to you. I’m a big fan, and I can’t wait for his future films; he’s really one to follow guys. Here’s the detailed plot analysis and the ending of the 2018 Spanish movie h0us3 explained.

You can watch “h0us3” at Amazon Prime video in USA, UK, Japan and Germany or visit h0us3.com

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Spoilers ahead!

Contents

Here are links to the key aspects of the movie:

h0us3: Characters And Relationships

Rafa and Lucia: The couple who are hosting a reunion. They are college sweethearts.

David and Sara: A couple that has gone through a rough patch as Sara had a miscarriage. David is a collegemate of Rafa and Lucia. Back in college, David and Lucia were in a relationship that eventually broke because of Rafa. However, David, Rafa and Lucia have moved past it and remain good friends.

Mony / Monica: A college friend of Rafa and Lucia. 

Julia and Ricardo: While they appear to be a couple, Julia has another lover. Julia is a college mate of Rafa and Lucia, and Ricardo is a lawyer.

Dani and Eva: While Dani is Rafa and Lucia’s college friend, Eva seems to know the couple well.

h0us3: Plot Explained

casa de las arcas

The movie begins with friends arriving at Rafa’s and Lucia’s place for a weekend stay. While Rafa mentions that phone networks come and go and are generally weak in that area, we are shown that David notices a hidden device that appears to be a signal jammer. Considering the nature of the information that Rafa plans to share, he didn’t want any electronic information to leave his house.

What does Rafa do for a living in h0us3?

Rafa is a hacker and mines any data he can get his hands on. He looks for vulnerabilities and gains access to people’s data by sniffing his neighbours’ WiFi connections or colleagues who carelessly leave their passwords put on a sticky note on their monitors. Rafa also later discloses that he has ties with Anonymous, an activist hacker group.

Let’s go through some of the significant discussions during dinner.

  • People’s passwords and data get leaked all the time.
  • Social Media a great place for attackers to learn about their targets.
  • Darkweb is a section of the internet that cannot be reached or tracked easily.
  • While technology like Smart Devices (IoT or Internet Of Things) and the internet, in general, are helpful, they come with an added risk of large companies collecting and aggregating people’s data and activities. If this falls into the wrong hands, it could be catastrophic.
  • Quantum Computers are coming in a big way and can change the landscape of technology because of computational power.
  • Edward Snowden, a former computer intelligence consultant who copied and leaked highly classified US government information.
  • Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks that published news leaks from a variety of sources. Mony also mentions an encrypted file of 350GB that floats on the internet and two smaller files.

While the table conversation is all scary, it’s all true. That’s the kind of vulnerabilities we live with our public profiles and information exchange. The film even talks about Signal messaging application, which many moved over to because WhatApp decided to change its stance on privacy of information. 

Those three encrypted files labelled “Insurance Files” exist today, although no one has decrypted them. The film h0us3 begins its science fiction thread when Rafa discloses that he knows what’s inside the protected file.

What has Rafa accomplished? What is the App?

Rafa has used his resources to decrypt Assange’s 350GB file. Inside it, he found an Augmented Reality program that looks into the future by about 30 seconds. In short, the App is like having the camera mode on, but the camera shows you the scene from 30 seconds in the future.

Rafa decided to avoid the authorities with this information and bring it up to his close friends and get their opinion on what they need to do. David first tests it and notices that while an empty bottle stands on a table, the App shows it to be fallen over. Confused, David attempts to pick up the bottle and tips it over. Eva happens to see a lamp that is lit but off through the App. Soon the bulb fuses out.

Initial reaction to the App 

julia ricardo bathroom

Once the shock wears off, the group argues if they should tell the authorities or not. Julia, Eva and Dani even begin theorizing how they could use it in a casino to get rich. While Ricardo is against using the App for personal gains, Julia is all for it and sends a message to [what appears to be] her lover that she’s found a way to get rich. The text doesn’t go because there is no network. Remember the signal jammers?

The limitation of the App (Achilles and Tortoise Effect)

Rafa explains how he has tried keeping three phones with the App running on each to gain a maximum of 1 min and 30 seconds view into the future. But beyond that, the image just turns blurry. He calls this the Achilles and Tortoise Effect. What is this? Well, it’s Zeno’s paradox that illustrates that if Achilles begins to race with a tortoise by giving it a head start, he can never win because every time he reaches the tortoise, it would have moved a small distance forward. This would go on infinitely, and Achilles can never catch the turtle. This example is mathematical and ignores that Achilles is trying to reach the finish line and not catch the turtle. 

In short, Rafa is trying to say that he’s heading in the wrong direction to extend the vision into the future, and he’s failing.

Hacking into the code

h0us3 hacking the file

Mony connects Rafa’s phone to her computer to take a look at the App source code. There is one file of interest that is password protected. Mony and David figure that since it’s a local file within a 350GB highly protected bundle, this single file’s password must be straightforward as whoever put it did so that the file is not edited. Mony uses a brute force attack to hack the password. What is a brute force attack? It’s the process of trying each and every possible dictionary word (along with variations of replacing alphabets with numbers). The password turns out to be h0us3 (o replaced with 0, and e replaced with 3). 

h0use3 Explained: The Variable and Access to the Past and Future

As a group, they go through the code to understand what it does. They locate a variable that is assigned a binary value of 11111. Unlike the decimal format, which uses 0 to 9, a binary number uses only 1s and 0s to represent numbers. Without going into details, 11111 in binary is equivalent to 31 in decimal. This variable assigned to 11111 is what is making the App see 31 seconds into the future. 

They change the variable type to decimal, making the value 11111 seconds, which is 3hours and 5minutes into the future. Dani uses the App to notice the table has been cleared, and the clock shows a time 3hrs 5min ahead.

The group then changes the variable to a negative value, -11111. The App shows the events from 3hrs 5min in the past, Rafa and Lucia making out. 

The Consequences of the Time Device and Technology Secrets

The group is split on whether they should leave things untouched or use their ability to look into the future to change it. Rafa mentions that considering Assange stole this, it must have already been with the US government. The countries that gave whistleblowers refuge might have also got access to this tech. Rafa suggests that people are already using this tech to make their decisions, so should they. He fears that AI is an imminent threat and needs to be countered.

Rafa also says that videos in the 350GB file showed people with implants able to perceive electromagnetic waves. Men with altered exoskeletons who could lift ten times their weight. Cryogenically frozen super-soldiers in preparation to be awakened. Nanobots fixing human tissue. Human brains connected to server farms. Rafa tells them that the tech the world is exposed to is a mere fraction of secret scientific advances.

h0us3: The End of the World in 12 days!

While the group is debating, Lucia changes the variable in the program to Hexadecimal. What is Hex? Well, binary uses only 0s and 1s. Decimal uses 0 to 9. Hexadecimal uses 0 to 9, followed by alphabets A to F. In the context of this variable, FFFFF is the maximum value it can take, and the decimal value is 1048575 seconds, around 12 days into the future.

Lucia sees fire everywhere, and there is no house or trees or anything nearby. The group begins to freak out because they realize that their discovery might have led to this outcome. Oh, Lucia doesn’t physically travel to the future. Standing in the middle of that inferno was for the cinematic effect which I thought was beautifully done.

Artificial Intelligence is behind all of it

Rafa suggests that they can still alter the outcome. They change the variable to 99999 in hex which is 629145 seconds, around 7 days into the future. The house still stands, and there are a few papers on the table, which is in Rafa’s handwriting. It mentions that AI (Artificial Intelligence) did this. We’ve seen this possibility in many films and texts. Advanced systems that become self-aware and perceive humans as a threat and launch an attack on them – The Terminator Series and The Matrix are great examples.

Rafa explains the 4 stages of Artificial Intelligence taking over:

  1. It Stores Me – Digital storage of a human, all of their details.
  2. It Sees Me – Accessing Social Media and other profiles to understand where a person is and what they’re doing.
  3. It Knows Me – Accessing the internet activities and smart devices to understand the person’s patterns and behaviour.
  4. It Replaces Me – Finally, AI emulates and operates in place of the actual person. This step is deadly as it makes it possible for AI to launch a full-scale war on humans.

How does AI get the power to end the world in h0us3?

Mony talks about a possibility. The world has seen exponential growth in the number of surveillance cameras connected to the internet. If AI combines these footages with the App, then it has access to the past, present and future all across the world. It becomes omnipresent.

h0us3 explained rafa calling rafa

h0us3 Explained: Rafa calling Rafa

They change the variable to AAAAA, which is 699050 seconds, 8 days into the future. They see a future Rafa appear with the App looking back by 8 days and communicates with the group. He mentions that he doesn’t know where the others are and could be dead. He reiterates that AI is doing this, and they are all being removed. The authorities tried to turn AI off, and it retaliated.

The critical piece of information he gives is that the conversation about that App on that night was leaked. Despite the signal damper, someone has taken that conversation outside. We know Julia already initiated a conversation with her lover about getting rich, but this could have been anyone. Because the group learns about the App, they have become immediate targets.

Future-Rafa also leaves a note saying, “turn off your phone”. Everyone in the room frantically pulls out their phones and switches them off. The group then suggests that Rafa’s phone be destroyed. 

David and Rafa claim It Was All A Lie

Finding that things are going out of control, David makes eye contact with Rafa and bursts into laughter, stating that everything about that App was part of a prank. It was something that he and Rafa staged to fool people. That they used an Augmented Reality app to play pre-prepared videos to deceive the group that they saw the future. That the end of the world was a 4K 360-degree video taken from YouTube. That Future-Rafa was just his pre-recorded video with some makeup. That they planned that variable and the password h0us3 as they knew Mony would fall for them. And finally, that Rafa never decrypted the 350GB file.

As expected, everyone is super upset, and the night ends with most people going back to their rooms in disgust as Rafa and David pour themselves a drink.

h0us3 Ending Explained – Was it real or a prank?

h0us3 rafa

The ending of h0us3 shows us that as the rest were winding up, Mony installs the App on her phone to verify that it was not a prank and the end of the world may or may not be averted because the App actually works. Remember, the source code was on her laptop. Let’s go through the reasons why it was not an elaborate hoax.

  • Before the party, Lucia knew about Rafa’s findings. If you notice at dinner, she alone is not surprised. Lucia also knows well that Rafa successfully decrypted the 350GB file. Lucia mentions they thought of several options on what to do with the App before calling the group for dinner. David claims Rafa didn’t decrypt the file at the end, which is a lie.
  • Lucia slyly convinces Sara to stay back with her college story. She knows what’s at stake here and doesn’t want anyone to leave the house at that stage.
  • In the end, Lucia says she doesn’t understand, and Rafa whispers something in her ears. Possibly something to the extent of “trust me, I’ll explain”. This means that Lucia wasn’t in on the prank.
  • The footage from the past shows Lucia and Rafa making out. Considering she wasn’t in on the prank, Rafa has no way to have prepared this footage.
  • Considering Sara had a miscarriage, and they are at Rafa’s place to get a break, it’s inconceivable that David planned such a hideous prank. Observe Lucia tells David that this would cost him a divorce. She tells him this because his interjection to end the night for the greater good could cost him in his personal life.
  • Rafa and David’s expressions clearly say that they weren’t playing a practical joke; they seem intense. Rafa more than David.
  • In a previous conversation with David, Mony already mentions that she’s noticed servers being attacked by smart devices and that it could be the work of AI.

There is enough detail in the movie that indicates that David simply lied about it being a practical joke, but why did he do it?

Why did David lie about the whole thing being a prank?

There are two trigger points:

  1. Future-Rafa says their conversation from the night was leaked.
  2. The group decides to destroy the phone, which we already see Future-Rafa using to relay that critical message back to them.

Calling it a prank at that moment gives David and Rafa time to figure out who will potentially leak the information and stop it. Maybe he felt that if people went to bed angry about the night, they wouldn’t bother bringing it up to others outside the house, especially knowing they were taken for such a bad ride and there is no such App. If they felt like fools, they might not discuss it again with anybody else.

Destroying the phone without thought could also potentially do more damage than solve the problem by creating a time paradox. 

Therefore, in that instant, David comes up with this excuse to abruptly end the night, and Rafa plays along.

h0us3 Ending: Is The End Of The World Stopped?

Unlikely. AI seems to have already become self-aware and observing for a couple of months. The end of the world may not be averted, but a part of the gang may be able to save themselves. Let me elaborate.

Remember the bottle scene? Like The Oracle from The Matrix mentions, would David have dropped the bottle if he didn’t see the future? Seeing that bottle lying down is what makes him move his hands near it, causing the bottle to fall over. David even mentions in a conversation about trying to change the future might only create it. What is to say that David’s act of calling it a prank makes it a casual thing and that one of them, say, Julia, would comfortably mention it to her lover. Given AI is observing everyone, any discussion about an App that sees the future will get flagged. The fear might have given them more incentive to keep it a secret.

Given Mony also knows the App exists, the three are bound to have a conversation after everyone retires for the night. Her expression, in the end, is not one that says, “I’ll go to bed now, you guys carry on”. Knowing these three, they will verify to see what the situation is 12 days later. And there are two possibilities:

It’s all still burning 12 days later

Mony, Rafa and David will realize that the evening events didn’t change anything; doomsday is still upon them. The only thing left as an option might be to go underground and save themselves. Some of them might make it, and some won’t. This would also mean that in the future, Rafa needs to leave those papers there and talk to the group to ensure that few of them can survive with the App, which corroborates with the information where he thinks the others may be dead.

The house is fine 12 days later

If Mony, Rafa and David find the house to be intact after 12 days, they could breath a sigh of relief. The future they saw was not their own. A Future-Rafa from a dystopian timeline saved them by providing enough information. But considering the other immense powers at play and that AI is already self-aware, the group might have saved themselves, but leaving the house thinking it was a prank doesn’t stop them from talking about it with other friends. AI could still find out about them and come for them. But I’m sure Rafa, Mony and David would keep a daily check.

There you have it. Those are my thoughts about the film. What did you think about the plot and ending of h0us3? Drop a comment below.

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