‘The Water Man’ Ending, Explained – Was the Myth Real?


The Water Man follows the journey of a teenager named Gunner who tracks down a mythical creature “Water Man” in order to find a cure for his mother’s Leukemia. To Gunner, the myth of “Water Man” never seemed unreal because he was blinded by the passion to help his ailing mother, however, is this creature for real? If yes, how will the supernatural being help in curing Gunner’s mother? Let’s find out.

Who was Water Man?

Gunner Boone and his family had recently shifted to Pine Mills, where the stories on Water Man lived thick and strong for ages. And when Gunner heard it for the first time, his curiosity was quickly captured. He started his intensive research around the Myth and came across a book on the subject published by Bussey & Sons. For some fortunate reasons, Jim Bussey, the author of the book, lived in Pine Mills and was easily approachable. Gunner didn’t waste a minute on that.

According to Jim Bussey, Water Man’s real name was Edward Schaal. He was a miner, who lived with his wife Sarah, near the lake town called Wild Horse. During one of his mining tours, Edward found a rock vein (a yellow glowing orb), but before he could sell the stone, the Wild Horse dam tragedy swept away the whole town, including Edward and his wife Sarah.

A young Jim inspected the scene with his father and helped in counting the dead bodies. No one was left alive, but Edward Schaal miraculously woke up. Since then, he is living an eternal life, looking out for his wife’s body, so that he can bring her back.

Why was Gunner looking for Water Man?

Edward sported a yellow orb that had the power to bring the dead back to life. His unending life was proof of the orb’s magical power. Jim and his father had seen the miracle themselves which made it evidently stronger.

Gunner wanted to cure his ailing mother, suffering from Leukemia. Emotionally, he couldn’t afford to lose her, and that is why he wanted Edward’s yellow orb to give her mother an eternal life.

Did Jo really see Water Man in the wilderness?

Jo narrated the story of Water Man and claimed that she was a real witness of myth. Only she knows where to find him. She also claimed that the scar on her neck was given by the monster himself. However, to narrate all those threats, Jo charged money from the neighborhood kids. But was her story real?

During the ending of the film, Jo confessed to Gunner that the scar on her neck was a mark given to her by her abusive father. It wasn’t inflicted by the waterman. So, according to her, the myth is unreal, but what about Gunner? Does he believe the same? He has his mother’s life at stake.

‘The Water Man’ Ending Explained

A final confrontation between Gunner and Edward Schaal solves all the underlying mystery. The conversation verbalizes that Water Man was a fictional imagination of Gunner. His hope of curing his mother compelled his brain to create a non-existing being. It made him see what he wanted to see. But the myth wasn’t real. Just an imagination.

The mythical creature might not be real but Edward’s conflicting views stayed with Gunner. He was still doubtful about the fact that if one had to choose between a short life with a lot of love in it and a very long one with no one left to love then what will he end up choosing. His father, Amos, became instrumental in solving the conflict. He said, without a second thought that he will choose a short life with his mother rather than a long one without her. It was a subtle suggestion that there was no way to cure Gunner’s mother. Her end was inevitable and the best they could do was to prepare themselves for the tragedy. Gunner’s father would keep on living, even after his wife’s death to take care of Gunner in her absence. That was the sole reason why she tried to pacify the father-son relationship in the first place.

Detective Knox Ending Explained

At the beginning of the film, we saw Gunner sketching a graphic novel following a lead protagonist, Detective Knox. The novel begins with a detective who is trying to investigate his murder. Gunner did start the novel, but he wasn’t sure how to end it. The film acted as an inspiration.

In the graphic novel, Detective Knox has turned into a ghost and is obliged to live an eternal life. Similar to Edward Schaal’s own eternal hell. But he took inspiration from the story. Looking at his father-mother relationship and his own feelings for Jo gave him an idea to enlighten Knox’s eternity as well. The credit scene symbolizes that Detective Knox was saved from despair by another ghost (who looked like Jo). Together they solved the mystery of Knox’s death, who was killed by a man whom he got arrested for burning the forest (yet, another reference from the film where Wild Horse forest was burning). Together, Knox and Jo started their own “Ghost Detective Agency” and lived happily ever after.

The Water Man is a 2021 adventure thriller film directed by David Oyelowo. He dedicated the film to his late mother, Victoria Oyelowo.

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Shikhar Agrawal
Shikhar Agrawal
I am an Onstage Dramatist and a Screenwriter. I have been working in the Indian Film Industry for the past 12 years, writing dialogues for various films and television shows.

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