When it comes to horror films set around a spooky hotel in a fairly remote area, it is impossible not to think of Stanley Kubrick’s iconic work, The Shining. Set in a similar setting and having similarities in the plot as well, the new horror film Bad Things seems like a spin-off take on the 1980 cult classic. Four friends, Ruthie, Cal, Maddie, and Fran, arrive at a now-out-of-use hotel for a weekend vacation while Ruthie considers selling off the hotel since she has recently inherited the property. While Bad Things is good enough for a single-time watch, having too high expectations for it won’t be the wisest decision.
What Is The Film About?
Bad Things opens in the snowy outdoors, where the protagonist of the film, Ruthie, chops down logs with the help of an electric saw. Very soon, she and her three friends enter a warmly lit hotel, which is eerily empty as well. The three other friends are also introduced—Cal is Ruthie’s girlfriend, and Maddie and Fran are friends who have also been hooking up with each other in recent times. Ruthie calls out to her mother, whom she had expected to be at the place, but there is no sign of anyone other than the four women. As they settle in at the place, it is revealed that the protagonist has recently inherited this hotel, the Comley Suite, from her grandmother, who has recently passed away. Ruthie’s mother, who still seems to be quite close to her, wants the hotel to be sold off, and she has also arranged a meeting with some potential buyers. However, Cal wants Ruthie to hold on to the hotel and open it for the public, restarting the business that had shut down.
Gradually, with time, more dynamics in the personal relationships between the four are revealed. Ruthie had cheated on Cal some time earlier, naturally giving birth to trust issues between the couple. But Ruthie and Cal are both determined to give themselves one more chance, and they believe their getaway at the hotel would help their plan. On the other side, Maddie has always been romantically interested in Cal, and she cannot believe that Cal is giving her disloyal partner any more chances, even thinking of getting married to her. Cal still has to counter these questions at the hotel when she and Maddie are by themselves, but she does not let anyone else know about them. Although Fran is a known troublemaker and is therefore quite disliked among her friends, she has agreed to join the three upon Maddie’s asking. But the real reason for her presence seems to be that she is very attracted to Ruthie and wants to get involved with her.
While all these complexities gradually start to disturb each of the four characters, they are also faced with a different problem. The hotel had supposedly witnessed the unnatural deaths of five women in the past thirty years, and the ghosts of this past are now starting to appear and haunt the four friends.
What Had Actually Happened At The Comley Suite Hotel?
To state it right away, Bad Things is not a film that patiently waits around and explains the various horrific happenings that it presents. Without making any judgment based on this decision, it is still safe to say that all of the film’s hauntings are actually related to the hotel’s past. For example, early on in the film, we are told of two women who were models and would regularly go for jogging sessions just outside the hotel. One morning, the two left their rooms for their usual routine but then got into a terrible fight while jogging. Possibly trying to kill each other, one was indeed killed in the forest, while the other tried to crawl out of the woods but succumbed to her injuries. These two model joggers start to make frequent appearances in front of the four friends, mostly in front of each of them when they are alone. No more detail about these joggers or any of the other supposed deaths that took place at the hotel is revealed.
It is then Ruthie who starts to become the object of horror along with being the protagonist, suggesting that she is also equally linked to the horrors that are taking place. She is seen watching a particular video of a certain realtor named Ms. Auerbach on YouTube, which is initially about tips on selling a property. Although Ruthie does keep watching this video quite frequently, whenever she is by herself, it does initially look like her effort to prepare before the business deal with the buyers. However, after some time, this exercise of hers does become quite eerily repetitive, before the woman in the video actually directly addresses Ruthie by her name. This direct address to Ruthie continues over the next few times as well, and there is also a moment when Ruthie seems to pleasure herself while watching the video of Ms. Auerbach directly talking to her.
As the plot progresses, it gets revealed that Ruthie does have a number of secrets of her own, or at least the fact that she has a habit of hiding information. On the first night of their stay, the woman hears the loud banging of the exit doors of the hotel, and upon going to close them, she meets Fran. The two then share a kiss, although Ruthie initially says that she does not want anything to do with the woman. It seems like the protagonist is determined not to be unfaithful to her partner anymore, but strangely, she does not tell Cal about this incident. In fact, Cal and the others remain unaware of this secret meeting until the very end, when she sees a video of it on the phone carried by Ruthie. While Ruthie had been preparing for the potential buyers and her meeting with them, she had not told Cal about this either, since the girlfriend wanted to keep the hotel and run it like the old times. This secret does come out sooner, though, and Ruthie still manages to convince Cal that she still wants to give their relationship another chance.
It is Fran who witnesses the spooky incidents first and also continues to have these encounters the most often among the four. There is probably no specific reason for this mentioned, unless we consider these incidents hallucinations of bored and lonely minds. This does, in fact, seem like the only explanation for the events that were taking place. If so, then the fact that Fran was taking strong medications for her pains after going through biopsies could be the reason why she is most vulnerable to the eerie sights. She also has to bear the brunt of her hysteria as the three others abandon her in the middle of the train station after telling her that they were all returning to New York together.
When Ruthie, Cal, and Maddie return to the hotel and celebrate their freedom from the maniac Fran, the ghostly apparitions only increase and start to take very physical shapes. Once more, I am made to believe that these apparitions are still hallucinations of the mind. It was boredom and the resulting cabin fever that led to Jack Torrance’s horrific acts back at the Overlook Hotel. The Comley Suite in Bad Things seemingly gives rise to boredom and consuming loneliness that causes mass hysteria and leads to the events that we see on screen. The film intentionally blurs the line between hallucination and reality, and there is no way to differentiate between the two. Although the man who had earlier come in search of Ruthie’s mother, Brian, is killed and Maddie is also physically hurt in her hand, scenes at the very end of the film question the reality of these events as well.
Finally, the last piece of mystery about the hauntings is associated with suite 324, which was off-limits to every guest and all four friends at all times. The room is finally explored by Maddie, who is shocked to find out that the room actually contains an old, decaying human corpse. With this reveal, it also becomes clear that Ms. Auerbach, the woman seen in the YouTube video and later in Ruthie’s imaginary meeting with the buyers, is actually the protagonist’s mother. It is the strange, twisted relationship between this particular mother-daughter duo that forms the crux of horror in Bad Things. During her childhood, Ruthie’s mother would mostly stay absent from her life, both physically and mentally. There had been an instance when the mother had completely forgotten that she had left Ruthie alone at the Comley Suite hotel. Forced to spend days by herself at the place, the young protagonist was very close to losing her fingers due to frostbite when she was finally rescued. It seems like the mother was always busy with her profession as a realtor, which is signified by her role as the successful woman who guides Ruthie about making deals. During other times, Ms. Auerbach would stay busy with her string of younger lovers, as is suggested by a scene at the very end, when Ruthie sees her mother and Brian together inside a suite.
Such a horrible childhood, where she was often abandoned and had to live with her loneliness, had seemingly affected Ruthie horribly. This is what makes it seem all the more possible that she was hallucinating all of the ghost sightings and that the rest were somehow affected by this as well. It is also not clear whether it was Ruthie who killed her mother, but this is truly possible as well. She had indeed lost her mental stability with regard to her mother, as she had been carrying her mother’s mobile phone for all this time. Ruthie had been leaving texts and voicemails to herself from her mother’s phone and pretending to be her mother. This was one more secret that she had kept from her girlfriend, Cal.
Does Ruthie Really Murder Her Friends?
Around the same time that Maddie goes into room 324, Ruthie is approached by Fran, who says that she has returned only for her. Ruthie accepts her help and also shares another kiss, but when Cal sneaks up to Fran and attacks her, the protagonist immediately switches sides and ensures that Fran dies. Ruthie then seems to go completely berserk as she picks up the electric saw and approaches Maddie and Cal in a violent manner. She is then seen slashing through the bodies of both women, killing them instantly and leaving their bodies at the scene.
However, the scene of this crime is a public parking lot, and people are seen walking around the place as well, but none of them take notice of the three women or the murder, as if they are all invisible. This is what finally confounds hallucination and reality, for this murder seems to take place only in the mind of Ruthie. Similarly, the murder of Brian also seems to have been an imaginary matter, and it is even possible to imagine that it was only Ruthie who was present at the hotel for all this time. Cal, Maddie, and Fran could have been just characters created by her troubled mind to pass the time that she had all by herself at the place.
During Bad Things‘ ending, we see Ruthie walking through the empty corridor of Comley Suite Hotel. She has clearly lost complete control over her mind by now. Perhaps this scene is the only real matter in this whole time, and all of the other characters and events were just her creations.