‘The Unheard’ Ending, Explained: What Was Joshua Up To? What Had Happened To Chloe’s Mother?


“The Unheard” is a new Shudder film that begins with an interesting premise—what if someone without the ability to hear can be made to hear again with the help of a pioneering technology? Along with the benefits and joys of being able to hear sounds, the individual might also have a tough time dealing with the overwhelming sensation of hearing and have to make efforts to get used to it. This is almost the case with the film’s protagonist, Chloe, but instead of just being overwhelmed, Chloe also seems to be able to hear noises that actually do not exist in reality around her.

Spoilers Ahead

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

Chloe Grayden is a teenager who lost her sense of hearing at the age of eight. The fact that she had not been born with the condition means that Chloe is able to speak and is, therefore, an ideal subject for a new medical procedure. Chloe takes a long trip to the city to visit the clinic, and she is explained the details of the procedure by the doctor, Sophia Lynch. The procedure basically tries to recreate the growth of cells in prenatal stages by injecting a virus into the inner ears, meaning that it tries to develop the cells inside the ear just like it happens during the development of a baby inside the mother’s womb. Chloe is brave enough to get the procedure done, even though Dr. Lynch does warn her about the jarring effects of suddenly being able to hear noises. Once the treatment is complete, Chloe travels to Cape Cod in order to help her father with the sale of their old house, where she spent most of her childhood. Being a doctor himself, the father is unable to join her right away, and the girl has to spend two or three days by herself.

Coming back to the house of her childhood days does bring back memories of the past for Chloe, especially those of her mother, who seemed to have passed away when the girl was just eight years old. Settling in at the house all alone, Chloe is still unable to hear any sound, as it has only been a day since the procedure, but she remains hopeful that the procedure will eventually work, even though it is quite rare. Two characters from her past are also reintroduced to Chloe, and she seems to have very little memory of them. First is a retired policeman named Hank, who seems to be in touch with Chloe’s father, and therefore he comes down to the house to help the girl with maintenance chores. The other character is a teenage boy named Joshua, who used to be a childhood friend of Chloe, but the girl has no memory of him. As she settles in, Chloe does get her hearing back after waking up from sleep one morning and informs Dr. Lynch about the success too. However, the girl also starts to hear noises and shouts seemingly from her mother and has a hard time differentiating between real and imaginary sounds that she is hearing. Around the same time, the small community also reels from a young woman going missing, an occurrence that has apparently been happening for quite some time at the place.

How Had Chloe Lost Her Hearing Ability?

Ever since we are introduced to our protagonist, Chloe, the question of how she lost her hearing during her childhood becomes an important one. The fact that she had lost both her mother and her hearing at the same time when she was just eight also adds to the mystery of what might have actually happened at the time. Chloe does often remember a memory from her childhood when she was running around in the open, and her mother was calling her back from the porch of the house. Along with this, the girl also spends time alone in the house watching old family videos that her father presumably shot when they were still living at the house. All this does manage to add more mystery to the matter too, but ultimately it is revealed that Chloe had not gone through anything supernatural but had actually fallen sick when she was eight. The girl had developed meningitis, due to which she had to spend a considerable amount of time in a coma and had lost all ability to hear the sound once she was out of it. Rather, the girl also losing her mother at the same time is more mysterious, as the mother had not died but had strangely gone missing one fine day, never to be found again.

The absence of the mother seemed to have affected Chloe more than her inability to hear, at least in the long run. The girl later admitted to Dr. Lynch that she would sometimes remember her mother calling out to her and would actually be able to hear the voice. It was almost like her mother kept calling her back to their house in Cape Cod, and Chloe was confused about whether she was just remembering the voice or was actually able to hear it. The age of eight had left a traumatic print on the girl’s mind, for which she was also prescribed antidepressants. But despite taking such medication on a regular basis, Chloe had not mentioned this to Dr. Lynch, much to the latter’s unease. The girl was clever enough to know that she might not be operated on if the doctors knew of the antidepressants, but Chloe was desperate to get back her ability to hear. When she discusses all of this with Sophia Lynch, Chloe says that being constantly called back by her mother, whether in reality or something that she was imagining, is something that she wants to stop. The easiest and most natural way to do this was to ensure that she would be able to hear sounds once again so that she would not just hear her mother and, therefore, not constantly be reminded of her absence in her life.

What Was Joshua Up To?

As Chloe kept discovering more strange and unexplainable noises around her, she also noticed that the house nearest to her own would sometimes have lights turned on and loud music playing inside, even though it was supposed to be empty. One night, she even goes to check out the place and finds a camera stand beside the window, which faces directly at her house. It was evident that someone had kept a camera there and shot videos of the house that belonged to Chloe and her father. In fact, she had also found a microphone and recording device snuck into place on a shelf inside her own drawing room, further making it seem like somebody was keeping an eye on her. The way in which “The Unheard” is structured, there are only two suspects that can be thought of in this regard: Hank and Joshua. As Chloe keeps meeting Hank, the ex-policeman tells the girl to stay away from Joshua and his mother, for he suspects them of having been involved in some shady affair. Although nothing was proven, Hank says that he suspected Joshua of killing several pets, mostly dogs, that had gone missing a few years ago. Initially, Joshua does seem a bit strange in his behavior, especially because Chloe mostly runs into him rather than intending to meet him.

Chloe does eventually go to Joshua’s house in order to have a word with him after she spots the boy leaving the next-door house one morning. But she does not find the boy or his mother there and realizes that the door of their house is unlocked. Chloe walks in and then finds a dimly lit room in one corner of the house. Entering this room, she sees a number of screens with videos of buzzing sound waves being played on them. The girl is naturally very suspicious of the setup, and Joshua also walks in right at this moment. Chloe confronts him, and the boy does not make any attempts to cover anything either. Instead, what he says directly brings in the supernatural element in “The Unheard.” Joshua says that he had spotted something strange at Chloe’s house some months earlier when there was nobody living there. For this reason, he started to monitor and record videos of the house in order to understand what was going on inside the place.

The house right next to Chloe’s was indeed an empty cottage, but Joshua and his mother had been appointed by the owners to enter the place and maintain it once in a while. Joshua was now making use of this opportunity to try and find out what was happening at the girl’s cottage. He further explains that his videos had recently caught something strange whenever Chloe was also in the frame—a sort of glitch at certain areas that made it seem like someone or something was standing there. His theory is that after recovering her sense of hearing, Chloe was able to hear sounds beyond the human realm, too, meaning that spirits were trying to communicate with her. This actually adds up to the fact that Chloe kept hearing sounds and calls, especially those of her mother, which she believed to be imaginary. Although the girl does not seem to believe much of this, Joshua does play ultrasonic frequencies, which do not affect him but heavily disturb Chloe, meaning that the girl can indeed hear more sounds than a normal human being. Joshua firmly believes that Chloe had actually returned to Cape Cod because her mother had been calling her using sounds from the spirit world and that she was continuing to communicate with her daughter.

What Had Actually Happened To Chloe’s Mother?

The mystery surrounding the disappearance of Chloe’s mother and also the other women who had gone missing from the place over the years is gradually unraveled towards the end of the film. The ex-policeman, Hank, was actually also a psychopathic serial killer who used to target women and murder them. It was he who had forcefully entered Chloe’s house when her mother was alone all those years ago, and he had then killed her. Using his resources and skills as a policeman, Hank had then hidden away the woman’s body, and since he himself was leading the search for her, the body was never found by anyone. When Chloe is taken back to the man’s house by him, she gets a few minutes to go through the place, and she spots a photograph of Hank with her mother.

The photo was originally of the two of them, along with Chloe’s father too, but the husband had been conveniently folded out of it. This makes it clear that Hank was actually attracted to the woman, and this is also why he keeps mentioning that Chloe resembles her mother a lot, both in her appearance as well as through her voice. Therefore, the teenage girl now becomes the next target for Hank as he tries to chase her down in order to kill her. During her escape from the place, Chloe stumbles into a small outhouse on Hank’s property and is shocked to see the dead bodies of various women hanging from hooks, meaning that Hank was preserving the bodies, possibly to satisfy his perverse desires. Although the film does not make any direct mention of it, there is indeed a very twisted sexual charge in the way Hank approaches, murders, and preserves the bodies of his victims. The outhouse that Chloe enters does not only contain the body of the woman who had gone missing recently but also that of the girl’s doctor, Sophia Lynch, who had gone missing after coming to Cape Cod to meet with Chloe.

‘The Unheard’ Ending Explained: Was It Really Chloe’s Dead Mother Who Saved The Girl?

The final scenes of the film present Chloe running back to her own house in order to protect herself from the murderous Hank. Her phone had already been taken away by the man, who had also destroyed the SIM card, meaning that Chloe could not contact anyone. Added to that was the storm raging outside, which ensured that a confrontation between the two characters was inevitable. As Chloe tries to hide in her room, Joshua walks into the house, too, probably having heard a commotion inside. Hank pretends to be in trouble and stabs the boy, leaving him fatally injured and dying in one corner. He then walks up to Chloe’s room, but before he can spot the girl, she manages to severely injure him with a knife. This is not enough, though, as Hank staggers into the drawing room, where Chloe is busy trying to help Joshua. But just as the man is about to approach the girl and kill her, the old TV in the room starts up and makes the crackling, static sounds that form most of the spooky elements in the film. However, unlike other times, this noise only grows louder and higher-pitched, causing massive pain and distraction for Hank. Chloe, who is also affected but not to the same degree, makes use of this opportunity to slice the man’s throat and kill him.

The presentation of the scene very strongly suggests that it was indeed Chloe’s mother who had used her supernatural powers to do what she was always intended to do—to protect her daughter and also kill the man who had murdered her. The spirit of the mother had always been trying to communicate with her daughter in the mortal world in order to reveal what had happened to her. Hank killing the woman had also been taped over in one of the film cassettes, perhaps supernaturally, which is why nobody else had seen it before. The final scene can still be looked at just as a coincidental timing of the loud static noise having an effect on the disturbed psyche of Hank, which distracted him and let Chloe kill him. Nonetheless, the very last scene shows Chloe interacting with the video of her mother playing on the television, making it clear that at least the girl now believes that it was her mother who had saved her from the spirit world.

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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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