A Simple Favor is a 2018 dark comedy and psychological thriller film produced by Lionsgate. Unlike the subtle implications made at the end, the film is not based upon real-life events but a bestselling novel by Darcy Bell. The seemingly unreal plot, brilliant acting, and bizarrely funny choice of music captivates the viewers till the very end.
‘A Simple Favor’ Plot Summary
Stephanie Smothers is an enthusiastic widowed mother to a loving son named Miles. She runs a YouTube channel for fellow moms. In her vlog for a zucchini chocolate chip recipe, she updates the viewers on the case of her friend Emily. Her friend had asked her for a simple favor to pick her son Nicky from school but had gone missing for five days.
Stephanie recalls the time she met her mysterious friend when their sons wanted to have a “play day” at Emily’s house. The two mothers had found an opportunity to grab drinks together. At her house, Stephanie discovers an exposed painting of Emily in her living room and her passionate husband Sean (a novelist with financial instabilities). She lets Emily know about how she lost her husband and her brother in a tragic car accident.
Stephanie is thrilled to have met a glamorous new friend. On a day at a playground, she casually attempts to click a picture of Emily for their kids’ yearbook, to which Emily freaks out and asks to erase it immediately. Over a few martinis (with a lemon twist), the two decide to spill some dark secrets about their lives.
While Emily insolently speaks of the time when she and her husband had indulged in a threesome, she finds out that her friend has something more intense to offer. Stephanie confesses having made out with her half-brother on the day of her father’s funeral when she was very vulnerable. Despite a few brazen and mocking remarks from her friend, Stephanie is convinced that she has made a great friend.
One day, Stephanie receives an abrupt call from Emily, who, due to a work emergency, asks her for a simple favor to pick Nicky from school. Much to her surprise, Emily did not show up the entire day. Stephanie finds out from Emily’s office that she is in Miami for a few days due to work reasons. On hearing about his missing wife, Sean rushes back from London, where he visited his mother at the hospital.
The two file a police investigation on Emily having gone missing while Stephanie continues to post updates on the case on her YouTube channel. Shockingly, the police discover Emily’s dead body was found in a lake in a summer camp in Michigan, with severe liver damage and a large quantity of heroin in it.
Sean and Stephanie grieve over this unfortunate news, which in time, leads to an affair. The two now begin to spend time at Sean’s house and take care of their kids together. Detective Summerville, the cop investigating the case, astonishes Stephanie with the news that Sean had secretly withdrawn $4 million of Emily’s life insurance. Adding to that, suspecting Sean’s fling with his colleague, she begins to question everything.
One day, Stephanie receives a horrific, scornful mail, referring to her rendezvous with her half-brother. Right after, she gets a threatening phone call from Emily, who happens to be alive! Curious about all these bizarre events, Stephanie sets out to discover the truth!
Hope you have Faith
Stephanie hits the trail with the exposed painting of Emily and meets with its artist – Diana Hyland.
Diana points out that the sketch was of her muse named Claudia, who turned out to be a swindler. Stephanie visits the Squaw Lake summer camp in Michigan. She discovers an old yearbook with pictures of teen blonde twins named Hope and Faith McLanden.
Sleuthing further, she is led to the McLanden house, where she finds the demented mother of the twins. Mrs. McLanden tells her about how Hope and Faith had burned down their house, causing the death of their abusive father.
The Perfect Twist
Having found out that Emily is Hope McLanden, Stephanie puts up a vlog where she subtly hints to Emily about knowing the truth. Feeling threatened, Emily blackmails Sean that if Stephanie exposes her, she’ll take him down with her too. Stephanie and Emily finally meet again at Faith’s grave to have a glass of martini with a twist (just how Emily liked her drink).
Emily disclosed that she and Faith had a stillborn triplet named Charity, and their parents blamed the two for her death. The twins left Michigan and got tattoos for charity on their wrists. Afraid of being recognized from the arson case, the two decided to part ways. Fourteen years later, Faith (now a heroin addict) began to blackmail her that she’ll come clean in front of the police. Fearing the consequences, Emily killed Faith by drowning her in the lake.
‘A Simple Favor’ Ending Explained: “Sorry, Not Sorry”
Stephanie and Emily, both furious about Sean’s yet another relationship, get him arrested for physical abuse of Emily. However, while on bail, Sean and Stephanie decide to expose Emily with planted microphones and a live streaming video on her channel. In her desperate attempt to flee, Emily gets hit by Darren’s car, who had rushed to the spot watching Stephanie’s live stream. Looking at Emily finally getting arrested, Stephanie mocks her by saying that she’s sorry. However, she immediately corrects herself that she’s not sorry (having taken Emily’s advice to never apologize).
Six months later, Stephanie has successfully hit the one million subscribers target on her channel. Now, she not only makes recipe vlogs but also sleuths unsolved mysteries to take down criminals. Conde Nast has turned her vlogs into a morning show, and she has brought over thirty fugitives to justice. Sean Townsend, who now has complete custody of his son, has published his latest novel, “The Oopsy Jar.”
Being the “survivor crook” she is, Emily has found herself well-adjusted, even in prison!
A Simple Favor is a 2018 Crime Comedy film directed by Paul Feig.