‘Humane’ Ending Explained & 2024 Film Summary: What Do The Yorks Decide To Do?


As a family convenes for a special dinner that their father has invited them to in a dystopian world where we’ve already destroyed our ecosystem and overpopulated the world to the point that there’s a law to depopulate countries (basically in the near future), we get to watch them make an immoral decision for the future of humanity and their loved ones. I think that about sums it up. With all the apocalypse movies coming out, it seems death and destruction are in the zeitgeist, but I’m not here for it. However, I will admit Humane is quite different; it tries really hard to bring something new to the dinner table (huehue), yet it lacks in bits. Humane is also hilarious for a dystopian horror about the end of humanity, not making it bleak like other films in this genre. What’s striking is its approach to bashing the cream of society. I suppose it’s a more on-the-nose kind of film in all aspects, and we’d expect no less from a Cronenberg. With all that said, let’s see how the affluent York family reacts when their father decides to “enlist” in this new world. 

Spoiler Alert

What Is the Meaning of Enlistment? 

As it goes with the uber-rich (picture the Ushers from The Fall of the House of Usher), family doesn’t mean anything when compared to wealth. Similarly, the York family has been distant with each other for many years until the head of the family (for lack of a better word) decides to invite them from all over for a special dinner party to make an announcement. Of course, the oldest brother is a prick, and there’s an adopted child who only wants love and support, not fame and wealth, so he ends up wasting away his life by becoming an addict. As we learn the sad truths of the new world, the family gathers for what they think is one of their annual dinners. However, to their shock, the fancy dinner, which is met with quite the rage by the end of it, was actually for their father and stepmother to announce that they’re going to “enlist.” Now, what is enlisting, you may ask? Well, according to law, each country is meant to depopulate to a certain level in order to help the planet ecologically, and the USA’s government scheme is that anyone from a family can volunteer in return for half a million dollars for the rest of the family that gets left behind. Voluntary euthanasia is carried out by the “Department of Citizen Strategy,” aka DOCS. 

The four kids—Jared, Rachel, Noah, and Ashley—all erupt into a rage, yelling and shouting at each other as Rachel’s kid, Mia, sits there and watches in shock. She’s only at the dinner because she’s being bullied by her mother. In the meantime, we learn that the adopted kid, Noah, has found a girlfriend who is also an addict but has been sober for ten years. While everyone is fighting and discussing what they can do next, Jared gives his unsolicited advice and tells everybody that none of this applies to “them” and that it’s basically for the poor. Of course, he directs this straight at Noah because he’s the adopted kid who went from rags to riches. Overwhelmed by the situation, Dawn decides to give up on enlisting, which was apparently a decision both she and her husband made together, but everyone knows it’s Charles (the dad) who convinced her. But, to add to the mess, Bob from DOCS shows up, ready to take his soldiers. 

Everybody knows who the Yorks are, and after some admiration, Bob tells Charles it’s time. Before the procedure, Charles had to sign some papers, but he refused to do so. We never learn what those papers read, but somehow, Bob convinces him that he’s got to do it. I guess it’s because another body has to leave the York house by the end of the night. 

Which of the Yorks gets sacrificed? 

Bob then tells the family that one other person has to leave the household on that day, and since Dawn isn’t around, they have to make the decision in the next two hours. He takes Mia outside because minors aren’t allowed, and the DOCS doesn’t get paid for them. Immediately, it becomes a war zone in the house (ironic because that’s what Jared called the whole situation on the news), and the siblings start pointing fingers at each other. I guess crises bring out the worst in people, but the way they turn on each other is rather repulsive. What’s fair? Who is meant to die for the rest? Why must one of them agree to die when they all have something to look forward to? These are the questions they pose to each other instead of making an escape plan. After some time, they ask Bob if the body has to be morally euthanized or if they can just give him a body. Bob says the paperwork will be hard, but he’s okay with that outcome, too. 

Immediately, Rachel turns on Noah, the “troubled one” with a broken dream and an addiction from the past. It doesn’t matter if he’s doing better now or repenting for accidentally killing his partner in an accident; he must be the one to go. Ashley has always been close to Noah. They’re both the “artists” of the lot, while the other two went into science. I suppose that’s why they really liked each other’s company. However, Rachel turns her against Noah too. So, while the siblings are trying to kill each other inside the house, Mia spends time with Bob in his caravan for the dead. She learns quickly that he’s a sadist who just wants to watch people die—a bully, just like the kids who bully her. 

After Noah is brutally hurt by his siblings, with teeth falling out and a knife in his back, he hides out in a room until he can manage to fight back. I don’t know if it’s so much the thirst to survive or the thirst to kill that has the siblings at each other’s throats. They manage to get him again when he comes out, but he fights back, thinking Ashley is on his side, but she betrays him and hits him in the back of his head. They tie him up and decide to kill him, and right then, Grace shows up at the front of the house. They think they’re saved, but Bob quickly has Grace killed off by one of his minions, showing the Yorks the real position they’re in. Noah wakes up in the meantime, hears the chaos, escapes the binds, and comes back with a vengeance. 

However, he’s the only one smart enough to think that their solution is to get Bob instead of one of them. But it takes him hurting each one of them brutally, but not fatally, for them to understand that it’s not fair for him to die for them. It’s his “humanity” that awakens their humanity, though he’s quite violent. Suddenly, they’re all offering themselves up to be killed, but Noah tells them that none of them need to die. Ashley is terribly wounded in the situation, though, and they use a hot spoon to cauterize her bleeding stomach wound. She’s as pale as a winter’s moon, and the odds aren’t really looking in their favor, but they make a plan.

Ashley’s dream is to be a world-famous actress, so she puts her theater training to use by pretending to be a dead body. Bob brings one of his guys, Tony, to help him with the body, but in a moment, Ashley wakes up and puts a knife in Bob’s leg. However, a DOCS squad shows up, ready to shoot the full family. Noah gets Bob to tell them to put their guns down. Ashley goes unconscious from all the blood loss, and Bob manages to free himself from Noah, only to get a gun smashed in his head by Jared. When he wakes up, there’s a body in front of him, whom he assumes is Ashley, but it happens to be one of his officers, the one who shot Grace. 

During Humane‘s ending, Bob has no choice but to make sure the Yorks are safe from any repercussions for all the killing they’ve done, or he dies too. Bob goes crazy as Noah is about to inject him, telling the Yorks that they deserve to die because they’re the scum of the earth polluting it the most, and he’s doing important work. The scene then shifts to Noah playing a piano gig in front of his family, who are part of a large audience. Ashley and Charles are missing in the lot, of course, but Dawn’s sitting there proudly next to Jared. It seems Noah did end up saving the family from utter doom, and Bob was able to “save” them from the government.

In Humane‘s ending, we see a news clip of Bob announcing that Ashley and Grace were the enlisters for week 40. It’s a fabricated story about how they were really good friends and wanted to urge people to do everything they could to save the planet. The movie ends with Bob’s bandaged face and bloodshot eyes. I suppose the York family continues to flourish in the world while Bob and his friends suffer. His great plan of showing the rich what they really deserve somewhat backfired on him, and he was still actually a terrible person. For the most part, we know that Bob’s motivations make sense. He wants to show the rich that they’ve been messing with the wrong people because, in the middle of all this enlistment fiasco, it’s they who have been at the top. Bob simply wants to show the Yorks a taste of their own medicine. The rich think they can control everything with their money, and Bob tries to control the Yorks through the enlistment scheme. Unfortunately, he’s got quite the smug face right from the start. We know his wife gave up her own life so he must have some money, and it was probably the circumstances that made him vindictive. But at the end of the day, his plan failed because he showed his weakness right from the start (he was the one who had things to lose here), and so he helped the Yorks come together, contrary to what he had in mind.

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Ruchika Bhat
Ruchika Bhat
When not tending to her fashion small business, Ruchika or Ru spends the rest of her time enjoying some cinema and TV all by herself. She's got a penchant for all things Korean and lives in drama world for the most part.

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