‘Lovely, Dark, And Deep’ Ending, Explained & Film Summary: Does Lennon Survive?


For the most part, Teresa Sutherland’s Lovely, Dark, and Deep is a stunning and eerie compilation of the woods in America. The slow-burn horror movie can feel overly convoluted at first watch, but the ending might give you quite the ick. I suppose in some horror movies, we appreciate a dark ending, something that is seemingly a negative result of the society we live in; however, this was not one of those movies. Mainly because we spend such a long time in the film trying to figure out if Lennon, our main lead, will get closure for her missing sister by the end of the film. I will not deny my disappointment in this morbid ending, which leaves you cold and hurt. Additionally, I’m not quite sure everything that transpires through the film warrants such a dry ending. Anyhow, before I babble on about all the other things I didn’t like about the film, I will try and uncover what it has to say together and then see if I liked it or not. 

Spoiler Alert

What’s Lennon’s new job? 

Lennon is a new backcountry ranger at Arvores National Park. She’s supposedly very excited for this job, but before she even gets to work, she’s considered quite the outcast. Eventually, it’s revealed that it may be because her sister was once lost in these woods, a trauma she still carries with her. I suppose this makes it seem like Lennon is some sort of “crazy” person–a subject that pops up a few times in the film. While Lennon’s on her way to this new job, she listens to some interesting true crime podcasts. Through these little snippets, it becomes clear that it is common for people to go missing in national parks, and Arvores might be the most dangerous of the lot. I suppose our first big lesson should be to stop encroaching on a place when clearly it doesn’t want to be encroached on. I guess this is the point of the whole film, but I’ll get to that bit later. 

Lennon’s sister Jenny went missing in these woods when she was a young child, and she’s still very haunted by that day. There’s an almost “deer in headlights” kind of appearance to Lennon, and she sees a black deer-like creature a few times throughout the film. I suppose this animal is meant to represent the missing Jenny and also tell her to stay away from the woods. I suppose the biggest spoiler we get in the film is its first scene. There’s a ranger who writes a note that states, “I owe this land a body,” and then disappears. Yes, I also thought this would be some sort of serial killer slasher, but it completely sidetracks you from then on. 

What Does Lennon Do to Disrupt the Peace? 

I suppose Sutherland has a love for the 3s because when the Rangers arrive, they’re taught to keep certain things in mind. Just like the film is titled Lovely, Dark, and Deep, the rules are in a set of 3: do not take anything, do not leave anything behind, and do not kill anything but time. Easy enough to remember, no? I surely think so. Lennon is on a mission to figure out what happened to her sister. When someone goes missing a few nights into her duty, she immediately decides to step out and find this person. To her utter shock, she does find someone. It’s a woman with blood all over her thighs and hands. She asks Lennon if she’s real, and to Lennon’s surprise, she gives her a tight hug and doesn’t let go. See, Lennon was asked to stay put while the others went searching for this woman, but Lennon disobeyed and found her. This is her first big mistake. This is when things start to become really strange for Lennon. 

What Happens in the Woods? 

It seems Lovely, Dark, and Deep is banking on us into believing that the woods themselves are an entity that swallows up some people. I guess it’s like a pact between the rangers and the entity to keep the park functional. We don’t actually see any people or any sort of monsters that take these people away. In fact, the rest of the film is a strange psychological montage of Lennon trying to deal with her “craziness.” She gets lost in the woods; she then hits her head on a rock, and the next day, she starts to see strange hallucinations. This isn’t a fun “the woods are so welcoming; become one with nature” kind of escapade, this is a “taking” by the woods. Are we meant to believe that we owe the woods more people in order to maintain some sort of stability in nature? I’m not quite sure. Keep the peace, I guess. I suppose this is a time when Lennon gets to understand what happened to her little sister. After a series of convoluted incidents, we learn one thing: Lennon is seeing things and may never be able to escape this place. Even on her walkie-talkie, she keeps hearing that she’s been taken from the woods, although she keeps denying it. 

What does Zhang do? 

Ranger Zhang is the head of the Rangers at Arvores. We don’t exactly know how long Lennon is missing, but after a montage of strange scenes (it’s like drug-induced trauma), she ends up in a cave-like place, and Zhang finds her. The first thing Lennon asks her is if she’s real, the same way the missing woman had asked her. The most shocking reveal of this film is that the Rangers are complicit in this missing person scenario. This is why the Rangers are told never to take anything from the woods. When Lennon tried to save that woman and didn’t just leave her to die or whatever it is that happens in the woods, she messed with the system, and so she had to replace the woman. Since the Rangers know about what’s happening, they’re left alone as long as they don’t disrupt the process. Zhang admits that she doesn’t love this idea, but she has no choice. She then tells Lennon that she regrets letting the woods take her sister the most. I guess if the woods choose, it has to be that person? It’s not very clear, but we can assume that if Zhang had tried to save Jenny, she would’ve had to be taken herself. 

So now, Zhang tells Lennon of her regrets and tells her that she’ll be a wonderful Ranger. Meaning she’s sacrificing herself for Lennon’s freedom. Lennon is pushed into a body of water by many hands; we can imagine these are other people who have been “taken.” She finds her way out of the waterbody, a lake at the end of the park. One of the other rangers, named Jackson, who had been the only acquaintance Lennon made at the park, finds Lennon in the water and helps her out. As he’s trying to get her warm, Lennon notes that all the rangers already knew of this arrangement. She wonders why he never told her about it; maybe they’re just meant to know intrinsically. 

During Lovely, Dark, and Deep‘s ending, Lennon is still a ranger, and she has images of all the missing people she knows of on her wall. She’s like a completely different person—very dull and moody. I suppose this comes from knowing that she would never be able to save her sister and there’s no turning back from here. It’s a sort of closure I suppose. This is why her zeal to be a fantastic ranger is also lost.  When Lennon learns of a missing person, she goes out looking for them. A man stands at the edge of one of the rocky cliffs and asks Lennon if she’s real. She replies that she’s not (yikes) and walks away. This is to show that Lennon is also now part of the system, and she’s okay with letting people die at the hands of the woods. I suppose what this film is trying to say is that, as humans, we’ve to stay in our lanes. It’s also got some sort of political agenda; why is it that people get taken only at national parks? Maybe it’s to say that the government is trafficking people in the name of peace. I don’t know; I’m simply making guesses. At the end of the day, all I know is that we’ve got to stay away from the vast, mighty, and scary woods. Stay away from the unknown entities, kids. 

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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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