‘The Apology’ Ending, Explained: What Had Happened To Darlene’s Daughter, Sally Hagen? Is Jack Dead Or Alive? 


“The Apology” is a new Shudder thriller-drama film that is just good enough for a quick watch, even though it’s nothing worth remembering for long. The protagonist of the film, Darlene, is a recovering alcoholic preparing to host Christmas celebrations for her family after a very long time when an unexpected knock on the door turns her night upside down. “The Apology” is adequate in almost every department and is overall a nice and somewhat effective watch.

Spoilers Ahead

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

Darlene Hagen is rather nervous about the preparations for the family Christmas celebrations that she is about to host at her house after a very long time. Although she was used to such parties at one point in life, Darlene has been long out of practice and fears that she would not be able to do an adequate job. The woman, who lives alone, finds strong company and support in her best friend and neighbor, Gretchen, who insists that Darlene’s return to normal life is something that is much needed. Gradually, details about Darlene’s life are revealed when she receives the link to a recent video interview that she gave about her past. Twenty years ago, Darlene’s sixteen-year-old daughter Sally had gone missing one day, and she had never been found since then. Despite all of Darlene’s and her family’s efforts, no information about Sally could be found, and gradually everyone else lost hope. It seems Darlene’s husband had given up, too, as the man had probably separated from her, who still could not give up. Twenty years had passed, and Darlene was still attending interviews and running a website, hoping to find some definite information about Sally. As it gets late and a terrible snowstorm rage outside, Gretchen has to leave, and Darlene is left all alone. Before her daughter’s disappearance, Darlene used to suffer from the troubles of alcoholism, but she has stayed clean ever since, completing almost nineteen years of sobriety. However, this day felt sadder than usual for her, and she was right about to gulp down a glass of vodka when suddenly she heard knocks on the front door and the ringing of the doorbell. Astonished about who it might be so late in the evening, and that too in the middle of a snowstorm, Darlene checks to see that it is her long-estranged ex-brother-in-law, Jack. Darlene’s sister Julie had once been married to Jack and also had children with him until Jack left his family and town one day nineteen years ago, never to return. Coming back after all these years, the man claims that he has a lot to confess to Darlene and a bit of apologizing to do as well.

What Had Happened To Sally Hagen?

It is quite clear from the very moment that Jack tells Darlene he has some things to tell her that his revelations will be about Sally. Before that moment, though, ‘The Apology’ takes a few minutes to slowly establish other relations that had once been very intense twenty years ago. Even though Jack was married to Darlene’s sister, the two of them were very much in love. It is not totally clear whether they had fallen for each other before Jack’s marriage, but a dialogue seems to suggest otherwise. Now that Jack has returned to his beloved, he wants to rekindle that old flame, but Darlene turns down his approach, saying that she has moved on and believes that the two of them had sadly met too late in life. This perhaps points to the fact that the two were indeed involved only after their marriage. Darlene used to be a different woman back then, as she herself admits, always drinking and slogging through days without good or clear judgments, and at the time, Jack seemed to her like an exceptional human being. The sister, Jack’s wife, had no idea about any of this, and neither does she now since Darlene never felt the need to jeopardize her and her children’s lives just so that she could share her grief. Jack’s leaving town unannounced was indeed grievous for Darlene because, the breakdown of her sister’s family aside, her lover had suddenly left without telling her anything about it. Although the film makes no mention of it, her love for Jack could have been so intense that she, too, could have left her broken family and run off with him. But obviously, Jack could not tell Darlene about his departure, for that would destroy the whole purpose of his decision. Throughout the film, the general feeling is that even though Jack seems to have lived with his romantic feelings for Darlene, the woman has truly moved on from this relationship and has instead lived with the grief of her daughter’s loss.

However, there seems to be a very specific reason as to why Jack wants to rekindle that old romance or to make it felt that he has still kept loving Darlene after all these years. It might be that the man genuinely does still have feelings, but he also has a clear motive for returning to this town and specifically to Darlene’s house after so long. Jack initially says that he had been driving to his old family’s house to surprise them and spend Christmas together with his kids once again, which he had missed doing for the last nineteen years. But on the way, his car broke down some distance from Darlene’s house, and after having heard that his old lover was going to host the family Christmas celebrations this year, he thought it would be great to seek shelter at her place and also catch up. But as time progresses, Jack makes it clear that his arrival was a very planned event, for he had come to Darlene to apologize to her. It is quite evident by now that Jack had something to do with young Sally’s disappearance, and it is only towards the end that the full picture is presented. One afternoon, Sally had been walking home from school when Jack met her on the road and offered to give her a ride. The teenager was apparently upset about her mother’s drinking and alcoholism, and Jack thought it would be good to spend some time with her away from home. He drove her to a nearby lake, and then, as they talked, Jack embraced the girl at one point. While Sally possibly did so very normally, since Jack was her uncle and also the father of her best friend and cousin sister, Jack felt a different emotional urge. As he reports it, he felt Sally to be just like her mother, Darlene, whom he desired so strongly, and Jack ended up kissing the girl. Shocked and scared by this sudden turn, Sally tried to leave when Jack forced himself on the sixteen-year-old. While Sally now tried her best to save herself, Jack held the girl against her will and, in the process, strangled and killed her. He then buried the body at that same spot and left the scene. While Sally was missing and an investigation was started by the police around a week later, Jack’s stated alibi, that he was at work during that whole day, checked out because his friend at work mentioned that Jack had bought him some food that afternoon. However, the friend had actually mistaken the previous day for that day, but the police or the family did not suspect Jack, so his alibi was not checked with much scrutiny. Just like that, the rapist and killer was let go, and around a year later, he fled town and his old life.

There definitely seem to be psychopathic characteristics in Jack, going from how he had acted after his murder to how he does now twenty years later. The man had seemed to grow obsessed with this act of his, which he knew very well was terribly wrong. For the entire year that he was present after Sally’s disappearance, Jack kept quiet about his crime, pretended like he had no clue about what had happened, and continued to be romantically involved with his victim’s mother. It is not that Jack did not have genuine feelings for Darlene, as she now recalls how Jack was the only person who did not give her false hopes and promises that Sally would soon return to her during that one year. The man could hide the truth from his lover, but he could not lie to her face. However, over the last twenty years, he could not get over the fact that he had killed Sally, and there was a strange obsession in him about it as well. For instance, Jack still kept Sally’s French diary, which the girl had with her at the time of the murder, even though it was a strong piece of evidence that would have incriminated him. Now that he has returned to Darlene, his intention is to confess everything to his lover and then beg for her forgiveness. Jack knows very well that Darlene, or perhaps any mother, would be sufficiently moved and angered by his confession to killing him, but he also wants her to listen to the whole thing. The truth that he has hidden so far inside him is like a heavy burden that he has been carrying around, and now he wants to relieve himself of it. The man, therefore, comes prepared to ensure that he will last that long; he is carrying a small handgun to make sure that the situation does not go beyond his control. He has also brought a bunch of zip ties and shows them to Darlene, telling her to cooperate instead of making him use them on her. He tells her that after watching the recent interview in which she had appeared, marking the twentieth anniversary of the disappearance of Sally, he could hold on to his guilt no longer. 

The character of Darlene also goes through a range of varied emotions after the revelation, as is obviously expected. After fully grasping what is being told to her, Darlene initially tries to find an escape since she fears that Jack is back to kill her too. The woman makes a couple of attempts, but none of them work. Gradually, there is a shift in her intentions, too, as she refuses to just listen to her daughter’s killer confess his crimes and instead takes charge of the situation herself. Just when Jack looks menacing enough, Darlene makes use of the electric failure in her house due to the snowstorm and uses Sally’s picture to attack the man and bring him under control. It is she who now holds the man hostage and demands that he tell her everything. At first, Darlene says that she has no revenge fantasy, but then reveals that she has indeed had thoughts of getting the individual responsible for taking her daughter away locked up in her basement and torturing them till they broke, physically and mentally. She is now able to get Jack locked up in her basement, but she stays away from the torture part of things. The struggle now becomes internal for Darlene, as she has a tough time deciding what her ultimate step should be. She knows handing Jack over to the police would be the appropriate thing for her to do, but she is also aware that Jack will not confess to anyone other than her and would, therefore, not be punished. On the other hand, Darlene would be immensely satisfied to give in to her rage and shoot the man dead, but that would mean letting Jack go free easily.

‘The Apology’ Ending Explained: What Happened To Jack? Is He Dead Or Alive?

As there had been multiple gunshots fired inside the house, the neighbor and best friend Gretchen had come to check and found this horrible scene going on. She, too, joins the fight against Jack, and despite the man’s best efforts to turn her against Darlene by slandering her character, the woman stays strong in support of her friend, like she has been for the past twenty years. It is, in fact, Gretchen who constantly tells Darlene not to kill Jack, for that would be a terrible crime to commit. Finally, a sort of setup is reached in which Jack is tied strongly to the bed in a room in the house, and Darlene and Gretchen sit beside it, demanding to hear the man’s confession. The murderer is at first wary that his words will be recorded and used against him, but he is convinced when Darlene shows him all the phones, none of which have any recording or call turned on. Jack’s only demand is that Darlene shoot him dead once he is done telling everything, and the woman agrees to this. Jack then confesses to everything that had happened twenty years ago and explains in his own twisted way why he had done all of it.

At the end of “The Apology,” Darlene is enraged by the whole thing and has to shoot the gun to relieve her anger too, but she shoots at the walls and not at Jack. She now exclaims that her last promise to kill Jack had been a false one, for she does not owe the murderer anything. The final revelation comes at this point when Darlene shows that she has recorded the entire confession on Sally’s tape recorder and also reveals that she shot the gun to ensure that there were no more bullets left. This way, Jack would not be able to kill himself even if he somehow managed to get hold of the gun. The teenage Sally was fond of singing and would record her singing on a single cassette tape every single day. The last recording of hers had been taped over the cassette, and it was held on to dearly by Darlene. But now she knows that the only way to bring Jack to justice would be to record his confession on this cassette, and she does so. Finally, as morning breaks, police sirens can be heard approaching the house, as the women have seemingly informed them. With his confession on tape and him still tied to the bed, Jack is sure to be punished for his crime by the law in the end.

“The Apology” is a 2022 Drama Thriller film directed by Alison Locke.

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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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