‘The Dry’ Film Recap Before Watching Eric Bana’s ‘The Dry 2’


Directed by Robert Connolly, The Dry is an enthralling murder mystery that is not only nuanced in its approach but extremely effective in its execution. The film is based on a novel written by Jane Harper of the same name, and it follows the quest of a federal agent who wants to find the truth behind the triple murders that shook the town of Kiewarra. So, let’s find out what actually happened in that small town and if our protagonist was able to find the killers.

Spoiler Alert

Why did Aaron come back to Kiewarra? 

Aaron came back to Kiewarra to attend the funeral of his friend, Luke, with whom he was quite close back in the day. Aaron got a letter from Luke’s father, Jerry, and very cryptically, he wrote that he knew Luke and Aaron had lied to him back in the day. An accusation was made that Luke had killed his wife, Karen, and boy, Billy, and then took his own life. The motivation behind committing the act was unknown, and that was why Luke’s parents wanted someone to reinvestigate the case. They knew Aaron was one of the best in the business, and they just wanted him to go through the evidence once again and conduct his own investigation so that they could be satisfied. Luke loved Karen, and they didn’t have any conflicts between them, which was why it was very difficult for the people who shared a close relationship with Luke to understand why he would have taken such an extreme step.

Aaron didn’t want to investigate the case, but Jerry insisted, and he was just not able to say no. There was a reason Aaron wanted to leave the town as soon as possible, as in the past, something had happened to him that entirely changed his life. Aaron, Gretchen, Ellie, and Luke were the best of friends, and they spent most of their time together. Ellie died in a mysterious manner, and her body was found in the nearby river. Due to the lack of evidence, the police came to the conclusion that she had taken her own life. But a note was found in Ellie’s pocket that was given to her by Aaron, who had asked her to meet near the river that day. Now Ellie’s father, Mal Deacon, and brother Grant believed that it was Aaron who was behind the murder. Soon, the rumor spread like wildfire, and Aaron’s father decided that it would be best for him to leave the town. Aaron never came back after that, but now that he was there to attend the funeral, it felt like he was reliving all those moments once again. 

What happened between Aaron and Gretchen?

Aaron started his investigation, and he had reasons to believe that Grant had something to do with the entire incident. Aaron met a man named Jamie Sullivan, as he was the one who was with Luke just before the murders took place. Sullivan said that he had gone shooting with Luke, but Aaron came to know that he was lying. Aaron saw him in the CCTV camera footage installed near one of the clinics, and it became quite evident that Sullivan had something to do with the murder. But once again, that lead went cold when Aaron got to know that Sullivan had gone there to meet his lover, Dr. Chris, and he lied because he felt that if the people got to know that he was gay, then his reputation would be tarnished. It was a small town, and people had very orthodox beliefs, which was why Chris and Sullivan kept their relationship a secret. Now Aaron found that Karen had a receipt on her where she had written the word “Grant,” and it made his suspicions about the man even stronger. Grant was called into questioning, but he said that he didn’t have any sort of relationship with the woman. Aaron was adamant about finding some incriminating evidence so that he could initiate legal proceedings against Grant, but till the very end of The Dry, he wasn’t able to. 

Aaron and Gretchen came quite close to each other during that time, but things took a u-turn after Aaron went to her home to meet her. Aaron saw the picture of Luke holding Gretchen’s newborn baby, and his intuition told him that it was probably Luke’s son. Aaron questioned Gretchen if she had an extramarital affair with Luke, but she said that it was some random hookup and that she never met the father after that. Gretchen got really angry at Aaron for blaming her like that, and she asked him to get out of her house. 

Did Luke murder his family? 

In The Dry, we saw that Aaron had a knack for noticing details that others couldn’t. But in this one time, he was not able to make a single breakthrough, and he knew that time was not on his side. The local federal agent, Greg, was losing the confidence of the locals, and he told Aaron that if he wasn’t able to find anything substantial, then he would have to stop him from investigating the case. Aaron went to Gretchen’s house, and he secretly took many documents that were lying on the table. Through one such document, he got to know that the local school, where Scott Whitlam was the principal, had gotten a grant of $70,000 from a trust. That amount was never used for the purpose of the educational institute, and that’s how Aaron joined the dots and concluded that it was a case of embezzlement of funds. He knew that Whitlam had a gambling addiction, and there were people behind him because he hadn’t paid the sum he owed them.

At the end of The Dry, Aaron and Greg went to interrogate Whitlam, but the man escaped from the school premises and hid in the nearby forest. Aaron found Whitlam, and he saw that he was holding a can of gasoline in his hands. Whitlam accepted that he was the one who had first murdered Luke and then went to his house and killed Karen and Billy. Whitlam set himself on fire in front of Aaron and Greg, and before they could come and save him, the damage had already been done. Greg got severely injured, and even Aaron got a few bruises. Whitlam did not succumb to his injuries, but he was in a very critical situation. Gerry and Barb were extremely happy that Aaron had helped them prove to the world that Luke had not murdered his wife and child. Aaron met Gretchen before leaving town, and he apologized for suspecting her. Gretchen revealed to Aaron that Luke had neither killed his family nor killed Ellie back in the day. She said that Luke was with her when Ellie drowned, and both of them were as clueless as Aaron was. 

Did Ellie take her own life? 

In The Dry‘s ending, we got to know what actually happened with Ellie and who was behind her murder. Ellie’s father abused her and subjected her to a great deal of torture. She never had any plans to take her own life, so she decided that she would run away from her house. She saw Aaron swimming in the river, and she looked at him one last time, as she did not know when she would be able to meet him. She kept her bag in the same place where she and Aaron shared an intimate moment in the past. Just after that, Mal found his daughter, and he killed her. Aaron, in the present timeline, found that bag, and fortunately, he read Ellie’s diary, where she had written everything about the assaults she had to endure. Aaron for a moment went down the memory lane and those moments he spent with Ellie flashed before his eyes. For a moment, he entertained the possibility of what would have happened if Ellie was still alive. He loved that girl and his heart was shattered when he got to know about her demise. Aaron was never able to recover from that trauma and a part of him still wanted to go back in time and alter the events. 

Aaron went back to his hometown, but this time, he didn’t take the guilt with him, and he was satisfied that he had resolved the conflicts of his past and present. 

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Sushrut Gopesh
Sushrut Gopesh
I came to Mumbai to bring characters to life. I like to dwell in the cinematic world and ponder over philosophical thoughts. I believe in the kind of cinema that not necessarily makes you laugh or cry but moves something inside you.

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