‘The Sacrifice Game’ Ending Explained & Film Summary: Who Was Clara?


Shudder’s The Sacrifice Game is The Holdovers gone wrong. A horror thriller set in the 1970s, this Christmas film is entertaining. A group of four killers are out on the loose, slashing people at random and making it to the front pages. The killings became a hot topic of discussion for the students at Blackvale Catholic girls’ boarding school. Students prepared to return home during the Christmas holidays, and only the most reclusive girl in class, Clara, was supposed to stay back. Samantha, too, did not have too many friends, and she could relate to Clara. She sympathized with her and tried to become friends with her, but Clara showed no interest. Samantha was devastated when her father informed her that she would have to stay back at the school for Christmas. The holidays were far from what she had expected them to be, and Samantha settled in for a boring Christmas.

Spoiler Alert

Why did the killers murder Rose?

Rose Tanner was responsible for looking after Clara and Samantha. She tried to cheer Samantha up with the promise of a vodka-infused pie after seeing the teenager sulk in front of the television. After her mother died in a car accident, Samantha’s stepfather admitted her to the boarding school, and she eventually realized that he wanted to brush off his responsibility. She no longer had control over her life, and all she wanted was to be free and make decisions for herself. Samantha walked to the basement to grab a bottle of vodka when, all of a sudden, Clara appeared. She had spent a lot of time in the basement reading books that the school did not wish for its students to come across. Clara’s interest in spooky ritualistic books was the first sign of disaster in The Sacrifice Game.

As the teacher and her students prepared for dinner, there was a knock at the door. Rose assumed it was her boyfriend (the canteen manager), Jimmy, but upon opening the door, she was greeted by strangers. The only woman in the group claimed to be an ex-Blackvale, and she instructed Rose to grab the first-aid kit to dress the wound on her colleague. Rose refused to entertain them, but the rowdy bunch did not care; they forcefully entered the school premises and threatened Rose to follow their instructions. It gradually became obvious that they were dealing with the Christmas killers. The gang refused to leave, and they wanted Rose and the two girls to cooperate with them. They were warned that they would die that night, but the death would not be as brutal if they obeyed the killers. We find out in The Sacrifice Game that the killers had come to the boarding school to complete a demonic ritual. Their goal was to summon a demon, which was why they were on a killing spree.

Rose, Clara, and Samantha tried to run for their lives, but the killers got hold of them. Jimmy, too, was captured by the demon worshippers, and they were all tied up. The killer gang consisted of Jude, Maisie, Grant, and Doug. Jude was the muscle of the group and was known for his theatrics and short temperament; Maisie was the one who had first discovered the ritual and had gathered the gang; Grant was good with the killings as well, but he lacked Jude’s theatrics, and Doug was the disinterested one who was good at driving. Jude force-fed Rose and made a scene out of the ring Jimmy was carrying in his pocket. Jimmy could no longer tolerate the harassment, and he protested, but Jude got hold of him and slashed his throat. Rose watched her lover die in front of her eyes, and Jude made her wear the engagement ring. The night could not get worse, and Rose was determined to take the risk and plan an escape.

Meanwhile, Jude explained to his audience why she shifted from being a God worshipper to a demon believer. He was confident that the demon would grant him anything he wanted once it was summoned. Maisie had spent quite some time in the school basement when she was a student, and that was when she discovered the ritual. She was expelled from school after she was found to perform blood magic, but before leaving, she grabbed the most crucial page of the book. The last leg of the ritual required the sacrifice of innocent blood, and they had the perfect candidates for it. Using the ring Jude had presented, Rose broke free and punched Jude in the face. She attempted to grab the knife on the table next to her, but she was caught. Jude dragged Rose into the circle of sacrifice that they had drawn with the blood of their victims. He offered the demon Rose’s blood to feast on, and as soon as he stabbed her, the electricity acted up, and it became evident that something sinister had occurred.

How did the killers mess up the sacrifice ritual?

Jude expected the demon to respond immediately after the sacrifice, but nothing happened. Maisie decided to revisit the ritual book to confirm the entire process. They had killed the sigil-inscribed people and sacrificed the innocent as they were supposed to, yet the ritual seemed to be incomplete. Meanwhile, Jude started to believe that he was the vessel and that the demon was speaking through him. He was desperate for power, and the thought of having the demon living inside him made him feel special.

After Jude and Maisie went to the basement to find the book, Clara started to manipulate Doug and Grant. She planted a seed of doubt within Doug about Maisie; after all, both Doug and Grant were madly in love with her. Doug went to the basement to grab a bottle of alcohol, while Clara continued to influence Grant. She was clearly not the innocent schoolgirl she appeared to be. Clara had ritualistic markings all over her body, and her pupils dilated when Grant touched her. She convinced him to allow Samantha to leave, and she promised to relieve him of the pain he experienced during his time in Vietnam. Grant surrendered himself to Clara’s power.

Meanwhile, upon going through the pages of the book, Maisie realized that there was more to the ritual—a sacrifice of the guilty. But it was not the extra step that left Maisie speechless, but the implication of the sacrifices. Up until now, Maisie believed that the sacrifices would summon the demon, but the book revealed that the ritual they performed was to unbind the demon that already existed within the walls of the school building. The demon lived in Clara’s body, and she had been living in the school for decades now. It was she who lured them to perform the sacrifices to set herself free. When Maisie first saw Clara towards the beginning of The Sacrifice Game, she remarked that her face looked familiar. It is only in the end that we find out that Clara had been living at the school for a long time, and she even attended classes with Maisie. Maisie did not stumble upon the ritual book, it was Clara who made sure that she did. Clara had been planning her escape for years, and finally, she had found the perfect bunch of people for the execution of her plan.

What does Samantha Finally choose?

During The Sacrifice Game‘s ending, Clara gathers the killers in the dining hall with Grant’s help. As a result of the sacrifices, she was once again able to use her power. The people of the town once worshipped the demon living in Clara, and they attempted to summon it, but when the demon showed up, they did not like what they saw. The town fire explains what possibly transpired the night the demon was summoned. The people of the town attempted to destroy it, but they remained unsuccessful. It was weakened but not destroyed, and it managed to live within a forgettable entity.

No one remembers the reclusive kid, and Clara used it to her advantage. While the sacrifices made by Maisie and her group had restored the demon’s power, fulfilling the last step was crucial to set herself free. The Sacrifice Game ends with the deaths of Jude, Doug, and Grant. Maisie attempted to make a run for her life, but Clara got hold of her. Meanwhile, to Clara’s surprise, Samantha returned to the school. After calling the police for help, Samantha realized that it was her duty to help Clara. Upon entering the dining hall, Samantha was surprised to see that Clara was the one haunting the killers. Samantha tried to stop Clara from killing Maisie, but she did not care. She had been waiting to be free for all these years, and she would not let it go now that she was so close. Clara did not mince words when she described Samantha as a meager human being with childish problems. Even though whatever Clara said was hurtful, Samantha sympathized with her. She knew what it was to feel lonely, and she could not imagine how painful it must have been to be trapped for decades. Samantha continued to care for Clara even after seeing her demonic side. She could relate to her, and she believed they were meant to be friends.

Samantha killed Maisie with the axe she had found on the way because only through the sacrifice could she free Clara. The two friends watched the police arrive at school from afar. Samantha did not have a home to return to; she did not have people waiting for her, and when Clara asked her if she wanted to join her, she readily agreed. She did not care that Clara was a supernatural being; she was her only friend, and she wanted to be there for her. Clara helped set Samantha free as well because now she could be wherever she wanted. The Sacrifice Game ends on a happy note for Samantha and Clara, who found friendship in a bloody mess, and it seems the two will embark on an epic journey where sacrifices will be made in the name of friendship.

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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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