‘Imaginary’ Ending Explained & Film Summary: Did Jessica Escape Never-Ever?


Imaginary is a new supernatural horror film from veteran Blumhouse Productions, but one that is not worth remembering, or even a single watch, perhaps. The film’s plot follows Jessica, an illustrator and author by profession, on the journey of becoming close with her two stepdaughters when a mysterious entity from her own childhood returns to claim the younger girl, Alice. With a generally flimsy plot and no visual or thematic elements other than cheap jump scares, there is hardly anything to watch in Imaginary, and the film can be easily avoided.

Spoiler Alert

Plot Summary: What is the film about?

Imaginary begins with the protagonist, Jessica, waking up from a horrific nightmare, which she has been having repeatedly for quite some time now. The dream is always similar in nature—Jessica is chased around by a gigantic spider, and in this case, it is her very father who turns into this monster and chases her through her current apartment. After waking up, she is consoled by her caring husband, Max, a musician by profession, and a clear relationship between her dream and her work is mentioned. Jessica is an illustrator and author by profession, and her most famous work is centered around a friendly anthropomorphic millipede, Molly, who is always chased by a villainous spider, Simon. Trying to keep such nightmares aside, Max suggests a change of scene, which might help his wife with her fears. Since the couple has already moved in together, they have been planning on living in Jessica’s old family house. Despite the renovation work still ongoing at the place, Max and Jessica decide to move in with the intention of helping the latter clear her mind and finish her next book.

Max’s two daughters from his previous marriage, Taylor and Alice, also live with the couple since their biological mother, Samantha, struggles with some mental illness. As the family settles into their new home, the two young girls find their own means of enjoyment. Taylor, being a teenager of fifteen, makes a new friend in Liam, who is a neighbor, while little Alice spends her days playing around with her toys and storybooks. Pretty soon, Alice hears some strange whispers coming from the basement and, intrigued by the noise, she naturally goes down to check for the source. Following the sounds, she comes across an old teddy bear and seems to have an imaginary conversation with it, as she is the only one heard speaking. Alice brings the bear back upstairs with her, introducing it as her new friend, Chauncey, to everyone, and they become inseparable buddies with it. Both Jessica and Max initially find this quite adorable, mentioning how they, too, had imaginary friends at a young age.

However, the family’s time at the old house also starts to get interrupted by some unexplained creepy occurrences, which mostly affect the two girls. Taylor spots an old woman standing on the lawn and staring at the house but is unable to find her when she runs downstairs. Asking Liam, Taylor learns that the elderly woman, Gloria, had been interested in buying the house for herself and is now probably angry at missing the chance. On the other side, Jessica notices that Alice’s interactions with her new imaginary friend Chauncey turn violent, for the latter apparently tells the girl to hurt herself as part of a scavenger hunt. Concerned for her safety, Jessica has to get in touch with the girls’ psychologist, Dr. Soto, especially since Max is away on a tour. 

Why does only Jessica see Chauncey?

After Max leaves for his tour and Jessica is left alone with the children, she has to deal with the presence of Chauncey, the teddy bear, for she finds it increasingly creepy. In one instance, she seems to see the bear breathing and moving under the blankets, and she naturally mistakes it for Alice. While having an imaginary friend with whom the girl is having imaginary conversations and pleasant situations like parties and reading sessions are relatively normal and unalarming, Alice’s scavenger hunt immediately raises questions in Jessica’s mind. She takes a photograph of the list that Alice has been supposedly given by Chauncey but has not carefully looked at it yet. Jessica is alarmed only when Alice tries to slam her hand onto a sharp nail, as she had been told to hurt herself for Chauncey in order to be taken by the bear to a land full of fun and enjoyment.

After Jessica consults Dr. Soto, and the latter has a session with Alice, it is suddenly revealed that the teddy bear does not really exist in reality and can only be seen by Jessica. Alice had been speaking to an imaginary friend, Chauncey, for all this while, but there was simply no teddy bear that she had found or kept by her side. Neither Dr. Soto nor Taylor have seen the teddy either, while Jessica remembers seeing it at all times. This mystery is solved in the later half of the film, when the neighbor, Gloria, reveals incidents from the protagonist’s childhood days, as Gloria used to be Jessica’s babysitter at the time. When she was just a little girl, Jessica’s mother had passed away from cancer, and this left the girl emotionally devastated. During this time, she made a new imaginary friend because of her very strong creative imagination in a teddy bear toy that she had. She named the friend Chauncey, and unable to pronounce the name at the time, young Jessica shortened it to CB, standing for Chauncey Bear. 

Just like Alice at present, Jessica had also become extremely close to her imaginary friend, Chauncey Bear, during her childhood, and the two were inseparable as well. At present, Jessica does not have any recollection of these days, but she gradually starts to find clues that confirm Gloria’s story. The most visible reminder is the word “Seebee” scribbled all across the walls of Jessica’s childhood room, which she now understands to be her way of writing CB. She draws this connection with the help of another similarity between a phrase that Alice uses—”Never Ever”—and the same words she had scribbled on a drawing she had made during her childhood. Ultimately, it becomes clear that Chauncey Bear is seen only by Jessica because the teddy was her toy and her imaginary friend, which has now returned to once again unite with its long-lost friend. Unlike what Jessica had been seeing, Alice had been playing with no teddy or any other toy, but the stepdaughter’s imaginary friend is truly made up, with no physical existence it.

Is Chauncey Bear a harmful spirit?

When Dr. Soto first sees Alice have a full-fledged conversation with her imaginary friend, Chauncey, to the extent of the girl speaking in a distorted voice when speaking the words of the friend, she realizes that the matter is quite serious. Dr. Soto recalls a previous experience she had with another child, in which the boy had cut off his own finger only on the advice of his imaginary friend. In both the cases of Alice and the previous child, their respective imaginary friends had made them a list of items to get hold of as part of a treasure hunt, and the items specifically seem to be similar to ones used in the practice of dark occult magic. In Imaginary, the figure of Chauncey Bear is indeed a harmful and vengeful spirit, turning into a fearsome monster and trying to capture kids.

The basic concept of the Chauncey Bear ghost is that it found its best identity as the playmate to young children and then felt extremely detached, angry, and vengeful after the kids grew up and stopped playing with them. Chauncey Bear is only one form of it, as there are numerous other “imaginary friends” who experience the same anger and then set out to take revenge. Therefore, it is the group of imaginary friends that are the real monsters or antagonists in the film, and they have their own imaginary land, called Never-Ever, where they intend to take all the kids and trap them inside. The list that Chauncey makes for Alice is in order for the child to gather certain items that are needed for a ceremony in which a portal to Never-Ever opens up, leading to Alice, or any other child in her place, getting into the imaginary world.

In the case of Chauncey Bear, it recognized Jessica as the same little girl who used to play with it so many years ago, as soon as she returned to her childhood home. As a result, Chauncey Bear wanted to take revenge against her for having deserted and abandoned him, and it was Jessica who was always the main target. Chauncey used Alice to reach Jessica and ultimately succeeded in its plan as well. Its intention remains to keep Jessica with itself forever, trapped inside the horrific Never-Ever land.

What had happened to Jessica’s father?

Imaginary also introduces Jessica’s father, Ben, who is currently admitted to a mental health care facility. The man suffers from a number of mental illnesses that cannot be cured. Ben has also lost his vision and cannot identify his daughter from her voice either. When Jessica goes to visit him, Ben can only identify her for a brief moment, in which he claims that the girl has been away from him for a long time. This statement is based on the fact that Jessica had become very close friends with Chauncey Bear, followed its advice with regard to the treasure hunt, and opened up the portal to Never-Ever Land. 

There is a sense throughout the film that imaginary friends take such a monstrous turn, mostly in children who are deeply affected by the loss of a loved one or similar mental stress and despair. Although Alice’s mother has not passed away like Jessica’s had during her childhood, the young girl did have to go through the terribly difficult act of being separated from her mother due to the latter’s mental illnesses. Jessica has some burn marks on her hand, which she reports were left by her father, as he had lost all emotional balance after the loss of his wife. Alice also has some similar marks on her hand, and it can be guessed that they were caused by her mother. Therefore, the respective imaginary friends could get a complete grasp on the two girls, luring them away from life into the deep, depressing throngs of Never-Ever Land.

However, there is also a feeling of positivity amidst all this gloom, which is present through the love of some close ones in the case of every child. After her mother’s demise, Jessica was genuinely scared of her father and his sometimes violent actions, but when she was on the brink of going over to Neverland, it was Ben who reached out and saved her. As a result, Ben glanced into the eyes of Chauncey Bear, which led to him losing his sanity as well as his vision, and his current fate is totally because of this very experience. After all, Ben did not hesitate to risk his own life to save his daughter, and now, at present, Jessica decides to take the same risk, only in order to save Alice from her imaginary friend.

Did Jessica Finally Escape Never-Ever?

During Imaginary‘s ending, Jessica figures out what has been happening, and she manages to open up the portal to Neverland together with Taylor. They are helped by the friendly neighbor, Gloria, but then the elderly woman turns out to be actually against them, for she is working in favor of the imaginary friends. Gloria’s lonesome life had made her an easy target for imaginary friends as well, and she had been recruited to make Jessica return to Never-Ever Land. As soon as this plan is successful, Gloria shuts the portal door, ensuring that all three characters will forever be stuck there. Gloria does not get rewarded positively for her service, though, as she is immediately killed by a monstrous imaginary friend.

After finding Alice at the place, Jessica figures out that using her own creative imagination can also affect the rules of the place, and she seemingly escapes together with Taylor and Alice. However, a few minutes later, Jessica realizes that everything around her is just a simulation created by the monsters, and she is still in Never-Ever Land. She is given the choice to stay at the place forever, with the promise that her family members will not be harmed anymore in return. Jessica agrees to the deal too, when suddenly Taylor breaks into the place and takes down the monsters, helping her escape. As Taylor and Alice had managed to escape earlier, they had come back to help their stepmother, continuing the chain of love that can break the villainous imaginary friends. 

In their attempt to escape, the three accidentally start a fire, which burns down the entire house. However, this does not mean that Never-Ever Land or the network of imaginary friends are destroyed, as it only ascertains that Jessica and her family members will no longer be affected. Imaginary‘s ending scene shows the three in a hotel lobby when they see another young boy in the distance, telling her mother how his imaginary friend is very real. The presence of a teddy bear, very similar to Chauncey, makes it clear that this boy is being targeted by the monsters as well. 

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Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya keeps an avid interest in all sorts of films, history, sports, videogames and everything related to New Media. Holding a Master of Arts degree in Film Studies, he is currently working as a teacher of Film Studies at a private school and also remotely as a Research Assistant and Translator on a postdoctoral project at UdK Berlin.

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