‘The Unholy’ Ending, Explained – How did Alice Come Back From The Dead?


The Unholy is a 2021 supernatural thriller/horror based on a novel by James Herbert named Shrine. The film has been directed by Evan Spiliotopoulos and revolves around the supernatural findings in Banfield, Massachusetts. The film tries to develop some intriguing subplots and explores some interesting character arcs. Let’s try to analyze if The Unholy was able to leave an impact and whether it had the depth and authenticity in its screenplay to captivate our attention.

Gerry Fenn – A Discredited Journalist

Gerry Fenn covers stories for newspapers that might not have any gravitas but focus on one thing, i.e., publicity. But that’s not the reputation that the man always had. It felt like another lifetime when he worked for a prestigious newspaper and did stuff that did create a difference in society. But as it is said that not many can say no to a poison called fame. Gerry wanted to be famous and that too quickly. He started fabricating stories and dug his own grave. Gerry reaches Banfield to cover a story on animal mutilations but stumbles upon a mysterious doll that bore a marking of 1845.

What is a Kern Doll?

A kern doll was used for a ritual by the farmers. The doll was decorated with flowers and food grains. It was buried in the ground and was believed to bring a good harvest for the season. But kern dolls were not always used for such positive purposes. Sometimes it was used for trapping the evil spirit so that it does not cause its wrath on innocent human beings. Gerry Fenn wanted to make a story out of the cattle mutilations. So he broke the kern doll and called bad omen a reason behind the cattle mutilations. But little did he know that he was helping an evil spirit escape the clutches of sacred rituals that had bound it until then.

Was Alice talking to Virgin Mary?

Alice Pagett hears a voice from the same tree where the kern doll was found. She was deaf and dumb, but after that incident, she gets cured of her disability. People start considering it as a miracle. Alice says that the spirit was of Virgin Mary, and she had come to cure everybody of their ailments. There was a renewed faith and enthusiasm amidst the individuals of Banfield. They saw hope and a way to get rid of all their grief. But in reality, the spirit was not of Virgin Mary but of a woman named Mary Elnor. She had been burned to death by the priests in 1945. The reason was unknown until Gerry went to the archives section of the church to investigate.

Was Alice related to Mary Elnor?

Mary Elnor had sold her soul to Satan. It had given her and her descendants the power to perform miracles. Alice Pagett happened to be a descendant of Mary Elnor, and nobody knew about that. Through Alice, Mary was trying to make all the people of Banfield pledge allegiance to her and surrender their souls. The people had faith in the magical powers of the Virgin Mary.

Gerry knew that the only thing that would stop Mary Elnor was doubt. He went amidst the congregation of people who were waiting eagerly for Alice to perform some magic and told them everything was a hoax created by him. Alice also takes control of her conscious being and reiterates what Gerry had said. The crowd gets aghast and feels betrayed. The doubt that resurfaces coerces Mary Elnor to come out of Alice’s body. She goes after Gerry, but Alice comes in between and meets her fateful end.

‘The Unholy’ Ending Explained – How did Alice Come Back From The Dead?

Alice was the only surviving descendant of Mary Elnor. As soon as Mary kills Alice, she also burns to death. The magical powers came with a condition, i.e., Mary could only survive till the time her last descendant was.

Alice Pagett dies in Gerry Fenn's Arm

Alice dies in Gerry’s arms. She was like a daughter to him. He always owned the second chance life gave him to Alice. He had forgotten what doing something meaningful and standing up for the truth felt like. And now, in a blink of an eye, Alice was gone. He pleads to the Gods. he tells them that this is a gross injustice. It is said that the power of faith is such that it can move mountains. A miracle happens, but this time for good. Alice comes back to life. Gerry’s prayers were finally heard.

The Unholy lacks the basic tension and suspense that is so important for films of this genre. The actors put up a good show, but the ineffective screenplay and lack of depth and detailing nullify the effort. The film is streaming on Netflix.

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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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