‘Inside’ Ending, Explained: What Was In The Chamber? Did Nemo Escape From The Apartment?

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Directed by Vasilis Katsoupis, “Inside” is about a man’s struggle to survive in isolation. From losing all hope to making the best use of every resource to survive, the film focuses on the shifting temperaments of Nemo, an art thief. All that the audience knows about Nemo is his undying love for art. From a young age, he realized that art always had value. And he valued it more than the people around him.

Spoilers Ahead


‘Inside’ Plot Summary: What Is The Film About? 

Nemo forced entry into an elegant New York penthouse apartment, and with the assistance of his teammate on a walkie-talkie, he managed to disable the security alarm. He swiftly grabbed hold of the three Egon Schiele paintings, but he was unable to find the self-portrait. Time was running out, and Nemo frantically searched the apartment for the million-dollar art piece. He ultimately gave up on the piece and was ready to leave the apartment. As he entered the activation code for the door lock, the security alarm went off. His teammate announced that he had lost access to the apartment’s security and that the door was completely locked.

Nemo was on his own now, and he was desperate to turn off the alarm. He mishandled the smart thermostat system in the process, which led to an increase in temperature. Nemo was briefly relieved when he turned off the alarm, but he was tormented by the thought of being trapped in a stranger’s apartment. He tried to find a way to get to the lock on the door, but it was impossible. He soon realized that the apartment was becoming unbearably hot, and to make matters worse, the plumbing system had been turned off, and he had no access to drinking water. While the smart refrigerator always played “Macarena” whenever the door was left open for long, there was barely any food left. He scraped the fungus off the little food that he found and called it a night.

The temperature kept on rising, and all Nemo wanted was to drink water. His only source of liquid was the shallow pool with stale water in the middle of the apartment, but even that turned out to be undrinkable. In a desperate attempt, he licked the walls off the freezer to quench his thirst. He was elated when the vegetation sprinkler turned on suddenly one day. Just like a little boy in the summer, he laid on the ground to feel the water fall on his face without any care. The very basic things that we never take note of are, at times, the most valued objects of our lives.

Water was nothing short of a treasure that Nemo collected and used carefully during his stay. Nemo’s only source of entertainment was the surveillance footage that the apartment had access to. He started to build a narrative around the people who appeared in the footage. He developed an affection for the cleaning lady and screamed for help every time she came up to the apartment floor. His desperate cry for help went unheard as she vibed with the music that she listened to. The temperature of the house shifted from warm to freezing cold, and Nemo had to find a way to survive the sudden change. He focused on building a tower with the apartment furniture to get access to the skylight and break free. Every day he could relate more to the people in the painting who waited on the flight stairs without a flight to board.


‘Inside’ Ending Explained: What Was In The Chamber? And How Did Nemo Escape?

Nemo’s condition was quite like that of a trapped pigeon in an apartment; every attempt he made to leave eventually turned futile. After reaching the skylight, he realized he had to unscrew the glass panel to make his final escape. Days turned into weeks; the empty sink was now cluttered with used utensils; his feces were now all over the contemporary-style bathroom, and the wait to escape the nightmare continued to prolong. The image of the businessman, who was now in Kazakhstan for a business trip and enjoying the luxuries that life had to offer, infuriated Nemo. He defaced the portrait of the businessman and his daughter. Their privileged position bothered him as they looked at his miserable condition with a sense of pride. The apartment was modern and chic, but it was soulless. The lack of emotional attachment to the space was evident in its hollowness. The kind of empty people that Nemo perhaps thought the collector was. He found Schiele’s self-portrait hidden in a secret chamber, but its value had been starkly reduced by then.

The owner of the apartment called the chamber “the unseen world,” and in it, he kept his replica doll that held closely the assumably original manuscript of “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell,” a book written by renowned English author William Blake. The self-portrait and the manuscript were his most prized possessions, which he wanted to protect symbolically with his life. Nemo dreamed of meeting the owner at an art gallery. He appreciated Nemo for living up to the challenge. Nemo could sense that he was the puppet the owner was describing, and everyone else, including Jasmine, was an actor fixed for the challenge. He was the puppet in the hands of his master, and no matter how hard he tried to run away from destiny, it would eventually catch up with him. When Nemo woke up from his sleep, he was all the more determined to challenge destiny. He resorted to eating the fish out of the aquarium to keep himself alive, and he spent hours working to unlock the glass panel. He sketched on the walls of the house and, at times, conducted solo comedy shows; his insanity was now on full display.

With his leg broken and the supply of food coming to an end, Nemo often stared at the abyss he sketched on the wall, knowing that his death in the apartment was becoming inevitable. He thought that the fire alarm could be his last ray of hope. He triggered it, and water splashed all across the apartment, but no one came to his rescue. It was winter, and there was no hope left in Nemo. He left a note addressed to the owner stating that his home needed destruction; after all, art is born out of destruction. A wide shot of the apartment displayed the art that was formed out of chaos, destruction, and endless misery. Nemo climbed up his tower one last time, and the glass panel of the skylight crashed to the ground. The ending of “Inside” can be interpreted in two ways: either Nemo made the escape since he managed to unscrew the glass panel, or he gave up on his life after building the masterpiece out of his lived experience.


Final Words

One of the strongest reasons to watch “Inside” is Willem Dafoe. His presence makes the vague and, at times, repetitive material bearable. With the camera staying within the apartment space, the director creates suffocating tension within the audience as well. The commentary on class, using the subject and the space, was conveyed, though it felt a little too stretched. “Inside” is a modern survival story where nature’s adversities are replicated within the apartment, and isolation does not necessarily mean living outside the bustling city.


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Srijoni Rudra
Srijoni Rudra
Srijoni has worked as a film researcher on a government-sponsored project and is currently employed as a film studies teacher at a private institute. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Film Studies. Film History and feminist reading of cinema are her areas of interest.

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