The new psychological horror film on Netflix, “The Chalk Line” (or “Jaula” in native Spanish), is a fairly enjoyable watch that mostly hits the right emotional chords too. It follows the story of a couple living in a high-society neighborhood who come across a young girl one night and try to help her out. But the mysterious nature of the girl first confuses and gradually shocks the two, as “The Chalk Line” turns out to be more about childhood trauma and abuse against children than the supernatural horrors of an evil child.
‘The Chalk Line’ Plot Summary: What Is The Film About?
Simon and Paula, a couple in their forties, drive on a dimly lit road one night on their way home and suddenly come across a scene straight out of a horror film. A young girl of about eight walks through the middle of the road dangerously, as if dazed and not aware of where she is, and the couple have to stop their car to help. Around the same time, a motorcycle speedily approaches from the other side, but the girl sees this and dangerously runs toward the vehicle. As the motorcycle rider crashes in order to save the girl, Simon and Paula immediately take the child to a hospital and get her admitted. The police also get involved, as they try to match the girl’s identity with any of the missing children’s reports but can find nothing. As long as her parents are not found, Paula and Simon visit the girl in the hospital every day and keep checking with the doctors. Although the girl is not too injured from her antics on the road, the doctors find her to be already sick, as her kidneys hardly work. With treatment at the hospital, the girl does recover physically, but her mental state confuses everyone around her. Not only does the young girl not talk, but she also refuses to go anywhere by herself and often turns aggressive towards the doctors and nurses. Based on how she reacts to a nurse’s name, the doctors identify the girl’s own name as Clara. They remain concerned about the mental growth and health of such a young child and determine that the hospital is not the safest or best place for Clara to stay temporarily. By now, Paula had already established a close relationship with the girl, as she was able to comfort and calm Clara down when she got aggressive. The doctors, as well as the protagonist couple, now agree to let Clara stay at Paula and Simon’s house with the couple, hoping that a homely and friendly environment might make the young girl open up.
What Was Clara’s True Identity? Who Kidnapped Her?
After bringing Clara home, Paula and Simon both try their best to make the girl feel safe and at home, but the very first thing that strikes out about her is that she keeps herself restricted within a square or circle on the floor, drawn with chalk. Clara does not ever move out of the boundary that is drawn around her and is extremely scared to even try to do so. To cope with this, the couple clears their floor space as much as they can and draw lines or pathways all over the house so that young Clara gets used to moving freely inside. While Paula tries to make use of the methods that are comfortable for Clara in order to get close to her, such extreme actions draw attention and some ridicule from their neighbors and friends, who feel that such methods will not work. But the methods do indeed work, as Clara gradually lets her foster parents get close to her, and she even starts to grow affection towards Paula, making for her small paper ornaments to hang. Ever since meeting her, the couple and the doctors had believed that Clara was probably mute since she never spoke, but an incident inside her new house changed this belief. As the doctor tries to make the girl leave her imaginary safe space—the squares drawn with chalk—Clara shouts out certain words and then whispers some more to Paula in a desperate attempt to ask for her protection. From these words, it becomes clear that Paula actually speaks German, and therefore she has not been speaking since everyone around her has been using Spanish. While the police start to look into missing children cases in Germany as well, the doctors use German colleagues to communicate with Clara, but the girl still remains extremely shy and introverted. Although Paula’s motherly instincts kick in, and she grows more protective towards the girl each day, Simon’s patience runs out gradually after certain incidents unfold.
One morning, when Paula’s friend and neighbor visit their house along with her daughter, who is the same age as Clara, Paula offers them breakfast. The friend munches through the food until she starts to bleed from her mouth and then manages to spit out a big shard of glass that was in the food. The woman, who is also pregnant at the time, is rushed to the hospital, and when Simon later investigates the matter, he finds that the container in which they kept the jam was filled with some other pieces of glass. He is absolutely certain that this is the doing of Clara, who gradually seems quite menacing and frightful, but Paula denies accepting such an explanation. She keeps trying to communicate with Clara and even gets hurt by the child one day when Clara angrily kicks her away. Simon gets a hint of this as well, and he is absolutely livid that the little girl is turning out to be such an evil child. Simon and Clara have a disagreement over this, as well as another important matter in their personal lives. The couple had been trying to become parents for quite a few years now and had sought the help of fertility treatments as well but to no avail. Presently, they had decided to stop the treatment and take some time off the pressure, but Paula had been secretly continuing the treatment. From the very beginning of “The Chalk Line,” she is seen taking timely injections by hiding them in her washroom, but Simon had found out about this. While Simon had hoped that keeping Clara in their house for some time would make Paula happy, the woman had kept her fertility treatment a secret in order to surprise her partner with the news of pregnancy. But Clara’s presence in the house only grows the distance between the two, and now Simon wants to give Clara back to the hospital.
Amidst such a situation, Paula herself has a similar experience to her friend when she almost kills herself with a piece of glass in her food. While she goes to the washroom to get the glass out of her throat, Clara mysteriously disappears from the house. Paula is absolutely convinced that the girl has been kidnapped because Clara would never go beyond the chalk-marked boundaries. But Simon and their neighbors and friends are almost convinced that the girl who had tried to kill Paula had run away. The police are informed, and they start looking for the girl when Paula receives a strange phone call from Clara, and she quickly informs the police about this number. The result that comes out of the police’s search is all the more strange, as the phone call had been made to Paula’s home phone from her very mobile phone. This convinces the police and Simon that something must be wrong with the woman’s mental state, and they try to calm her down, but Paula has no doubts about herself. At the police station, the officer had shown her two files, which the authorities were going through in order to find any trace of Clara, and Paula cleverly took the files with her. Sitting in a nearby restaurant, she goes through the case files, one of missing children and the other of cases against children, and it is now that she finds out a horrible truth.
Going through the files, Paula comes across a case where the body of a teenage girl had been found with marks of physical and sexual assault, and from the pictures of the crime scene, Paula notices the same paper designs exactly like the ones Clara used to make and give to her for hanging. Convinced that she might find a lead, Paula goes to meet with the doctor who had performed the autopsy report, and from her, she learns that the teenager had a lazy eye, meaning that one of her eyes was weaker than the other. Paula once again goes through the file of missing children’s reports and finally finds her big lead. Among the cases was one in which the victim, a young German girl with a patch on one of her eyes, had been kidnapped from a beach in Malaga around ten years ago and had never been found since. With this new find, she returns home frantically, and an even bigger realization now dawns on her. Earlier, Clara had given Paula a drawing, which had seemed like fantastical gibberish at the time. But now that Paula takes a look at the drawing again, she realizes that the young girl had given her a huge hint of danger and had genuinely tried to open up to her. The German girl who had gone missing in 2012 had actually been kidnapped and held hostage by a man named Eduardo Olivares, who had continually forced himself upon her and had even gotten her pregnant. After the baby was born, Eduardo decided to keep it, a baby girl, and he killed and dumped the mother’s body in 2017. Ever since the baby was born, the girl, who is indeed Clara, kept growing up in captivity, and it was Eduardo who had trained her to remain confined inside lines of chalk or else be beaten up and punished by him.
The even more shocking twist that “The Chalk Line” now presents is that Eduardo was actually among the group of friends and neighbors of Paula and Simon who would regularly visit their house. On the night when the couple had found the girl, Eduardo was traveling in his car with Clara when he noticed a police check going on near their house. He had then released Clara and instructed her to keep walking straight on the road, possibly to then catch up with her and take her with him again. However, the girl had been noticed by Paula and Simon before that, and they had taken her away. While Eduardo kept looking for Clara, who he used to keep hidden inside his basement, he soon learned of her rescue and subsequent stay at his neighbor’s house. On the occasion of dinner at Paula’s house after this, Eduardo had excused himself from the gathering and managed to mix some shards of glass inside the jam that the couple used, most possibly to indirectly kill Clara, for he feared she might give away his horrid crimes. When this plan failed, the man broke into the neighbor’s house on two occasions to try and abduct Clara. While his first attempt had failed, his second attempt had been a success. From the hint that Clara had left behind in her drawing, Paula understands that she is most definitely held captive in Eduardo’s house, and she reports to the police about the same before going to rescue the girl.
‘The Chalk Line’ Ending Explained: What Happens To Clara And Paula At The End?
By the time Paula visits Eduardo’s house, the man has already guessed that she knows about his crimes. Both of them keep up with their pretensions, as Paula searches for Clara and Eduardo takes the woman captive as well. He drags her down to the basement, where Clara is kept restricted inside a chalk-drawn boundary, and he chains Paula to a pole. Based on the woman’s earlier call to the police, two officers arrive at Eduardo’s door, but the man manages to drive them away with some lies. He now wants to make sure that the file from which Paula has learned of his true identity cannot be found by anyone else. Paula makes use of this opportunity to make him leave the house for some time, and in the meantime, she tries to get help from Clara. She throws the girl a few pieces of chalk that she was now always carrying with herself and instructs her to draw her own path towards the door of the basement and out of it. Eduardo returns after some time and instantly notices the girl is missing. As he shouts around, looking for her, Clara slips out of the basement and locks its door from the outside.
The young girl now bravely steps out of the house as well and tries to shout for help from Simon, who is busy with a phone call to the police since his partner is missing from the house. By this time, Eduardo’s wife, Maite, spots the girl and seems to briefly understand what has been going on. She forcefully pulls the girl back into the house and returns her to the basement, even though she did not know about the secret life of her husband before this. Maite herself seems to always be dominated by her controlling husband, and she now uses this opportunity to take the upper hand over Eduardo the next morning. Promising to keep the basement and the two captives inside it a secret from the world, Maite demands Eduardo to let her go meet their sons in Barcelona and wishes to not return. Eduardo agrees, and the two sit down for breakfast, but their respite is short-lived, as the police force barges into the house and arrests the two. On the previous night, when Maite was pulling Clara inside the house, the girl had left chalky prints of her hands on the main door, and when the police investigated the matter, they quickly realized that something was up in Eduardo’s house. As the two are taken away, the two captives are rescued as well, and Clara is finally safe. Clara’s mother, who had gone missing from the Malaga beach, had her parents in Germany looking for her ever since, and Clara is now returned to them. As the young girl enjoys a new life in her native land with her grandparents, Paula regularly keeps in touch with her over video calls. This entire incident has also brought Paula and Simon back together, perhaps closer than ever before, as she is now pregnant with their child.
“The Chalk Line” (or “Jaula” in Spanish) is a 2022 Drama Thriller film directed by Ignacio Tatay.