‘The Mistress’ Ending, Explained & Film Summary: What Happens To Parker, Dawn & Madeline?

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The Mistress begins with a newly married, lovestruck couple, Madeline and Parker, moving into their lavish new house. The house was over a hundred years old, and it was the history preserved within the walls that intrigued the couple. While the old-world charm was attractive, Madeline could not help but think about the house being haunted. Their neighbor, Dawn, a multi-talented woman who invited herself into their house as soon as they moved in, discussed the good energy that she could feel radiating from the house. Among her many talents, she prided herself on being connected with the spiritual world. Madeline was not too impressed by their new neighbor and was relieved when she left. While Madeline and Parker were head over heels in love, there were differences that they had yet to sort out.

Spoiler Alert


What Is The Film About?

Madeline never missed an opportunity to mention that her husband’s nonfiction work was among the best sellers. Parker was currently under pressure to deliver another successful draft to his agent, Rob. He was struggling to connect with his next subject, and he ignored Rob’s calls. Apart from being a writer, Parker took a keen interest in photography, and he was elated to discover a plate camera hidden in the attic. Parker took over the basement and converted it into a darkroom. Madeline admired Parker, and it was only his smoking habit that she wanted to get rid of. Madeline dreamed of starting a family with Parker, and it was important for him to quit smoking. Parker was not on board with Madeline’s plan. Most of the time, he laughed it off; it was quite evident that he had no plans to have children.

The couple focused on renovating the house to elevate the gorgeous interior, but from the moment Parker found the plate camera, he was haunted by the ghosts in the house. He developed the picture he found in the camera and was mesmerized by the beauty of the woman in the photograph. The picture was over a century old, and the thought of it being unseen up until now gave them chills. While Parker had started to take an interest in the previous occupants of the house, his agent kept pestering him about the deadline. Lucky for Parker, his “unreliable subject” finally agreed to meet him at a donut shop. We never met Parker’s subject, but at times Parker discussed his interaction with the street dweller.

During their housewarming party, Dawn invited herself in once again. Madeline could sense Parker taking an interest in their new neighbor, but she did not give it much thought. Later, when Parker was alone with Madeline’s friend, Davey, he discussed how his previous relationship had left him traumatized. He dated a woman who became so obsessed with him that after their breakup, she called and texted him non-stop. Gina Santorelli became more and more desperate, and she started following him wherever he went. Parker called the cops on her, but she managed to disappear before they could get to her. Things got completely out of control when, one night, he saw her hiding underneath his bed. She was supposed to be locked in a psychiatric ward for three days, but she was detained for a month. Even though he had a restraining order against her, deep down, he was still afraid of her showing up out of nowhere. Parker constantly felt the threat of being discovered by his stalker, and his fear started to get worse over time.


What Happened To Dawn?

Parker’s obsession with the woman in the photograph was heightened after discovering a bunch of letters. Madeline read one of the letters during the housewarming party, and the group of friends started to sympathize with Rebecca, the woman in the photograph and the lover of William Woodruff, who once owned the house. The letters spoke of their hushed-up affair and Rebecca’s desire to publicly claim her love for him. As Parker developed an obsession with Rebecca, he also became more and more paranoid about being followed by his stalker. He had a baseball bat next to his bed, just in case. Madeline was a costume designer, and she dressed like Rebecca to take a similar shot using the plate camera. As the couple were lazing around after an eventful morning, Parker saw a woman outside their house. With the baseball bat in his hand, Parker stormed out of the house, but to his surprise, there was no one.

The police were informed, but since Parker was not sure who the woman was, they could not do much about it. Parker decided to set up surveillance cameras all around the house to keep track of his stalker. One night, when Parker returned to his study room to work on his new book, he was shocked to find page after page of “I love you” written over and over again. What he assumed was Madeline’s mischief took a sinister turn when he heard music playing in the living room. The basement light was turned on, and as Parker walked into the room, he noticed the silhouette of a woman. The woman was unafraid of Parker and disarmed him within seconds. Parker chose to hide the entire incident from Madeline.

Rebecca’s ghost showed up once again when Davey and Janine were discussing how Rebecca was nothing more than a stalker. Rebecca did not take the accusation well and knocked Davey out. Davey claimed that someone had hit him with an object, but it was all too strange to believe. Davey offered Parker his gun to use in case his stalker was back. Parker was aware that Rebecca punished Davey. He eventually submitted himself to Rebecca. She was obsessed with Parker, and he started to enjoy her presence. One night, when he was alone, he noticed a woman entering the house through the surveillance footage. He had his gun in his hand, and as he opened the door, he realized that it was Dawn.

Dawn begged Parker for company, and they eventually shared their deepest, darkest secrets over a glass of bourbon. Dawn proceeded to kiss Parker, and he moved his face away. He admitted that he could not resist temptation and showed interest in indulging in it. Before taking a step further, he decided to keep the gun safely in the bathroom drawer. When he stepped out of the bathroom, he noticed that Dawn was missing. The basement light was on, and as he walked down, he saw Dawn’s lifeless body lying on the ground. He realized that Rebecca acted out of jealousy. He dragged Dawn’s body out of the house and buried it. He was consumed by guilt, but when Rebecca was around, he lost his sense of conscience. Parker blamed her for ruining his life, but he was completely in awe of her beauty.


Who Murdered Dawn?

When Madeline returned home, she was horrified to find her clothes shredded to pieces and a dagger stabbed into her framed picture. Watching Parker smoke without an ounce of guilt made her feel all the more frustrated. Madeline was confident that Gina Santorelli had vandalized their house. She asked Parker to call the police, but he was hesitant. Before they could resolve the problem at hand, Madeline’s mother arrived to help her decorate the house. Madeline’s mother, Evelyn, took an interest in the Rebecca story as well, and the letter she read that night gave birth to a scandalous revelation—Rebecca was pregnant with William’s child.

The next morning, the police knocked on their door, inquiring about Dawn. She had been missing for days, and her boyfriend, Kristoff, had informed the police about it. Parker lied about not knowing anything with regard to Dawn. He managed to convince the police that the surveillance cameras were out of order. With her house vandalized and their neighbor missing, Madeline started to question their decision to buy the house. That night, Parker saw the ghosts of William’s wife and child. He believed that Rebecca had killed them. Parker woke up the next morning in a state of panic. While the first draft of his book was a success, he struggled to calm his nerves after the nightmare. Madeline demanded an explanation for his erratic behavior. Parker decided to tell her the truth. He explained that William had moved the house to protect his family from Rebecca, but he remained unsuccessful. Since Rebecca was obsessed with him, he was convinced that he, too, would not be able to protect their marriage. Madeline decided that they were going to sell the house as soon as possible.

Parker saw Rebecca walking towards Madeline’s room at night with a gun in her hand. He stopped her, promising to be with her for eternity. As they passionately made out in the attic, Evelyn followed the noise, and Rebecca choked her. The next morning, while at work, Madeline was a little taken aback when Parker stopped responding to her calls. She finally decided to meet Dorothy, who was known for keeping track of the history of every house in the neighborhood. When Madeline asked her the reason why William Woodruff moved his house, Dorothy explained that it was because oil was found on the property, and the owner got frustrated with the oil derricks all around. Madeline was interested in learning about Rebecca and the murder of William’s wife and children, but she was shocked to find out that it was all untrue and that nothing bad happened in the house.

Rebecca was a half-Mexican or half-native woman, and Dorothy believed that was why she was abandoned. Rebecca grew up in the house where Dawn lived. Several scandalous news articles had been written about her because she was young, unmarried, and pregnant. While Rebecca had been successful in hiding her pregnancy, she committed suicide after the remains of her unborn child were found in the garbage. There were rumors that she was William’s mistress and that the aborted baby was his, but Dorothy did not completely believe in the theory. Madeline was surprised to learn that the Woodruffs lived to grow old in that house, and their daughter met Dorothy when she was in her 80s. It was all the more surprising that Parker knew the truth, yet he lied to Madeline about the deaths.

When Madeline returned home, she met a woman named Frida Richmond waiting on their porch. She refused to explain who she was, but as Madeline expressed frustration, she stated that she was Parker’s counselor. Madeline had no idea that Parker had an appointed therapist, and apparently, he had missed several of their scheduled sessions. Frida was worried for Parker, especially because he was violating the court order. Frida scoffed at Madeline when she asked her if the court order was regarding his stalker, suggesting that her husband had been lying to her. Madeline went up to Parker’s office to check the restraining order, and she realized that Gina was the victim, and her husband was the stalker. Madeline went ahead and checked the surveillance footage, and she saw Dawn enter their house and Parker drag her body out within a few hours. Madeline was trembling out of fear, and she suddenly heard a crashing sound. She went downstairs and found the counselor’s body on the floor. Parker tried to explain that it was Rebecca who had attacked Frida, but Madeline had lost trust in him. She tried to escape, but all the doors were locked.

As Madeline ran for her life, she noticed the papers, envelopes, and ink lying on the floor. All the letters that they had been reading after entering the house had been written by Parker. He developed an obsession with Rebecca and started to emulate her. He pretended to be Rebecca and wrote letters to William. The letters helped him build a story and convince the people around him that it was the truth. He was so consumed by the shame and pain Rebecca experienced that he started to think like her. He convinced himself that he had to separate from Madeline to submit himself to Rebecca. We also learn that Parker never interacted with any of his subjects. He simply created his own stories and sold them as the stories of real people. He was lost in his own imagination, and he struggled to conceal his truth. At the age of 12, Parker threw a stone from the overbridge onto a passing car. Perhaps he convinced himself that he acted because his friends compelled him to, but in reality, he alone made the decision to kill a stranger. He had lived in psychiatric wards, and he had been through several counseling sessions, but he continued to struggle with his disturbing thoughts.

During The Mistress‘s ending, Madeline runs to the attic and finds her mother lying on the ground, semi-conscious. She pointed at the gun that was lying near her. Madeline grabbed hold of the gun and screamed for help from the roof. Parker, as Rebecca, followed Madeline. He dissociated himself from his actions and blamed his wrongdoings on a character he created, and in this case, it was Rebecca. Parker had murdered Dawn while pretending to be Rebecca, assuming that she would be jealous if she found her lover with another woman. He also, as Rebecca, knocked out Davey.

As Parker attempted to attack Madeline with the baseball bat, Madeline shot him consecutively. Parker fell over the parapet and died. The police arrived at the scene soon after. Madeline was left scarred for life, and we found out that she had moved out of the house. A new couple moved in, and they found the picture Parker had taken of Madeline. The ghost of Parker resides in the house now, and while his life ended with the comforting thought that he was united with his lover, Rebecca, he surely will be a menace to the young couple. The couple’s interest in finding out who Madeline is also suggests that they, too, will get to know about the horrific tale of Parker and Madeline. Or maybe one of them will start spinning a tale around Madeline, and it will lead to another disaster.


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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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