Welcome to Knockout Horror and to another Horror Movie Ending Explained. We have a big one for you today. We reviewed Lorcan Finnegan’s Irish-Filipino horror collaboration a couple of days ago. To be honest, we really enjoyed it though did find a few issues. Namely pacing, a slightly messy plot and a poorly handled social commentary element. Still, it is well worth a watch.
If you are checking this article out. There is a pretty good chance you have already done that and are looking for answers. Well, you are in the right place. We are going to break down the events of the movie. Then explain the slightly complicated ending.
Naturally, this article is not spoiler free. If you haven’t watched Nocebo. Why not take a look at our review of Nocebo before watching? When you are done, come back and take a look at this article. Our reviews are always spoiler free. With that out of the way, let’s take a look at the movie.
Nocebo – A Phone Call At Work
Nocebo follows the story of fashion designer Christine (Eva Green). It’s made pretty apparent, at the beginning of the movie, that something terrible has happened. Christine receives a phone call at work that, obviously, upsets her. The phone call talks about bodies being pulled out. This is important later and sets up the events of the movie.
A dog appears. Riddled with mange and ticks. The dog walks up to Christine, shakes itself and flicks ticks all over Christine. One of them bites her neck. Moving forward 8 months to the future. Christine’s work and home life is falling apart. She is afflicted with a mysterious and debilitating illness. She is unable to work. Suffers pain, her joints lock up, she forgets things and she is exhausted. She has to sleep with a CPAP machine, likely due to sleep apnoea. And has bouts of amnesia.
Nocebo – Christine Potentially has Lyme Disease
For those who don’t know. There is a condition associated with tick bites called Lyme Disease. It causes muscle pain, weakness, joint pain, neck ache, fatigue, headaches. And a whole range of severe symptoms. It could be, perhaps, inferred that Christine is now afflicted with Lyme disease.
Incredibly hard to diagnose. She has been prescribed a whole myriad of medications. Her husband, Felix (Mark Strong), believes it is all in her head. A result of the guilt that she feels about the accident alluded to in the earlier phone call.
Nocebo – An Unexpected Arrival
Christine applies for a job with a local fashion house. It seems as though the interview didn’t go well. Christine receives a phone call, however, somewhat to the contrary. Later on, there is a knock at the door. Diana, a caregiver from the Philippines, is at the door. She claims that Christine arranged to employ her services. Believing she must have forgotten. Due to the amnesia caused by her illness. Christine invites her in and explains the situation to her husband when he returns.
Diana (Chai Fonacier) sets herself up in her bedroom. Acting as a live in care giver, or au pair. Diana will be staying with the family and providing care duties. Diana then listens in on the conversation taking place through the air vent. This isn’t particularly important to the plot. Diana, likely, doesn’t actually care what the pair are talking about. It isn’t relevant to her plan.
Later on in the movie, we will see Diana listening through the vent. Seemingly traversing her spirit through the wall to be almost in the room with them. Again, not particularly relevant. This is just an interesting way to show the extent of Diana’s magical powers.
Nocebo – Diana Communicates with her Dead Daughter
Diana opens her suitcase and pulls out a matchbox. She then summons the aforementioned tick. The one that bit Christine on the neck earlier in the movie. This is further indicative of Diana’s mystical abilities. It is also alluding to the fact that this was something Diana planned all along. She is the reason Christine is ill. Something we will get into a little later on. Diana also takes a xylophone from Christine’s possessions, placing it with her stuff. This is important later.
Diana retrieves ashes from the fire and places them outside her door at night. She then gets in bed and lies down. Seemingly hearing the voice of someone talking to her. In the morning we see a set of child’s feet imprinted into the ashes. It becomes clear, later in the movie, that Diana has recently lost a daughter. We see her photo placed in the shrine that Diana sets up. It can be assumed that the ash is used as part of a ritual. Along with the shrine. As a way for Diana to communicate with her deceased daughter. It is her daughter who is talking to her as she lies in bed.
Nocebo – Diana Says She Can Heal Christine
The majority of the movie now follows Christine’s struggle. As well as her recovery from her ailment. After preparing a traditional Filipino meal of Humbà for the family. Christine’s arm locks up. Diana tells her she can heal her. After doing so, she tickles her. We learn, later on in the movie, that Diana tickled her late daughter in the same way.
Again, this is not particularly important but it ties into Diana’s motivations. Everything she is doing is revenge for her daughter’s death. Diana tells Christine she can heal her but not permanently. All she needs from Christine is for her to trust her. Christine agrees. Diana tells Christine that she is an Ongo.
Nocebo – Diana is a Filipino Witch (Ongo)
An Ongo is a type of Filipino witch. These types of witches are quite different from the kind we may recognise in the west. Filipino witches covertly harm their victims with black magic disguised as healing. In other words. They use sympathetic methods of healing to do harm to a person. Sort of like reverse healers. The belief is that only people who are not innocent can fall victim to the powers of these witches. Therefore, it can be considered to be a form of punishment for people who have done wrong.
Spells involve linking something that represents the victim. In this case, the xylophone from earlier in the movie. With something from the victims body. For example, hair, nail clippings or blood. These are then placed together with the related object. Spells or chants are then cast to inflict harm on the victim. Naturally, Nocebo goes a little deeper than this. Engaging, even more, in fantasy. As well as stretching Diana’s powers far further than even legends suggest.
Nocebo – How Did Diana Become an Ongo?
Diana became an Ongo when her family offered refuge to an ailing older person. The person was found wandering in a storm. They were incredibly weak and barely hanging on to life. Likely looking for someone to pass their powers onto. The old person died in front of Diana.
I believe, in legend, the powers of an Ongo normally pass on from one person to the next slightly differently. Usually via the touch of a dying Ongo. In this case, the Ongo’s powers pass on via a featherless bird. The Ongo’s spirit is represented by said bird. A bird which transferred from the dying Ongo into Diana. We will see this happen later on in the movie with Diana and Bobs.
Nocebo – Diana Makes Bobs Turn on her Dad
Diana treats Christine and performs healing rituals. She takes nail clippings, hair and blood from her. Felix is unhappy with this. He talks to Diana and asks her to stop. He tells Diana that Christine’s condition is psychosomatic. A result of the guilt she feels from the accident. Diana refuses to comply with Felix’ request. Telling him she will deal with the problems in Christine’s head. Diana subtly warns Felix, telling him to be careful of the stairs while he is drunk.
This is a bit of foreshadowing for what will happen later. Remember how Diana can control animals? The tick for example. She now, seemingly, controls Bobs’ bird, making it fly into Felix on the stairs. Felix smacks the bird away, killing it instantly.
The next morning, Diana helps Bobs bury the bird. Bobs tells Diana that she is being bullied at school and feels ignored by her parents. Diana tells her she will always be with her. The two have now formed an important bond. A bond that will play into events later on. Meanwhile, Christine is feeling fantastic. The treatments are working and she is recovering. She feels invigorated and able to work. Managing to strike a deal with the fashion house from earlier. Christine is overjoyed.
Nocebo – Felix and Christine Kick Diana Out
Felix retains his suspicions regarding Diana. He searches her room and finds the shrine. Even worse, he finds all of Christine’s medications under the bed. Christine was distraught earlier in the movie when she couldn’t find them. Diana told Christine that Christine was going to throw them away. She must have forgotten. This was actually a lie. It was Diana that took the medications.
This is a bit of a plot hole really. Why would Diana take the medications? Surely it wouldn’t matter if Christine carried on taking them. She didn’t need them for rituals. It is a pointless piece of detail used purely to justify kicking Diana out. Felix tells Christine what happened and the pair confront Diana, kicking her out.
Nocebo – Diana Asks Bobs To Lie
Before she leaves, Diana chats with Bobs. Remember how these two had become close? Bobs finally felt as though she had a friend. Someone that cared about her and would listen to her. Bobs is horribly distraught that Diana has to leave. Bobs is upset because she thought they would be together forever. Diana tells her that they can be but she needs to do one thing for her.
This is quite an important and easily missed plot point. Diana asks Bobs to lie to her mum. She wants her to tell her mum that she saw the medication in her dad’s car. This will absolve Diana allowing her to come back.
Realising that this will sew seeds of doubt in Christine’s mind. Diana knows that Christine will likely turn on Felix. They already have a weak relationship. Felix already disrespects her by believing the illness is all in her head. Diana is well aware that Christine will believe Bobs over Felix. Diana is also aware that Bobs would be happy to lie about her dad. Bobs thinks her dad is a murderer after killing her pet bird. Bobs now loves Diana and does what she tells her.
Nocebo – Diana Uses Her Powers to Harm Felix
While Diana is gone. Christine carries on having nightmares of giant ticks. Nightmares likely caused by Diana’s spells. As instructed to do by Diana so she can be with her again. Bobs lies to her mum. She tells her mum that the medication was in her dad’s car. Christine, believing Bobs and thinking Felix was manipulating her, confronts Felix.
When Felix tells Christine that Bobs is lying. Christine is furious that he would throw his own daughter under the bus. Felix suggests that he sleeps upstairs. On the way up, he is startled by Bob’s dead bird. Likely conjured as a spell by Diana. He falls over the stairs and is rushed to hospital. Interestingly enough, the fact that Felix can fall victim to Diana’s spells. Suggests that he must not be an innocent person either. Maybe a slight hint that many people are guilty of the exploitation of the poor.
Nocebo – Diana Casts a Spell To Torment Christine
Christine is attending the filming of her latest commercial. While there, Diana uses her powers to influence what Christine sees. Using the xylophone she stole to perform a spell. The spell makes Christine see horrible blisters and wounds on the children dancing. She also sees the featherless bird that came from the Ongo. As well as the mange ridden dog from earlier.
She screams, much to the dismay of everyone around her. The things that she was seeing were completely in her head. A manifestation of Diana’s powers and a result of the spell she cast using the xylophone. When Christine and Bobs get back home. Bobs, seemingly, calls Diana back to care for her mum. Diana reassures Christine, telling her they will finish the treatment.
Nocebo – The Truth is Revealed
Moving onto the final scenes of the film. We see Christine sat at a sewing machine. Thinking that this is part of the healing process. Christine complies with Diana’s requests. It is clear, at this point, that Diana’s intentions are completely revealed. She has everything she needs to fulfil her ultimate plan.
Christine is instructed to sew for hours and hours. Diana uses her powers to place Christine inside a Filipino clothes production factory. She is sweating profusely and asks how much longer she will have to do this. Diana tells her that this isn’t treatment anymore. It is revenge. This was never about healing her. It was about making her face her judgement. Diana was actually casting a hex on Christine. This is what she needed the blood, hair and nail clippings for.
Nocebo – Christine Experiences a Horrific Vision
Christine sees the factory go up in flames. The very factory she visited in the past. The factory that produced her line of children’s clothes. A place where Christine made demands, including having the door permanently locked. She sees a small girl frightened and people burning alive.
Christine’s skin begins to blister as she suffers physical effects from the fire. Diana tells Bobs to go to the back garden. She climbs on the roof and jumps off. Diana lies on the floor, dying from her injuries. The featherless bird that earlier emerged from the Ongo and entered Diana. Now exits Diana’s body and enters Bobs making her an Ongo. Remember when Diana said she would always be with Bobs? This is what she meant.
Nocebo – Christine Burns to Death and Bobs is now a Witch (Ongo)
Felix returns and walks in the house. He enters Christine’s room and finds her charred and burned body at the sewing machine. Clearly dead, it would seem Diana finally completed her spell before committing suicide. Passing the spirit of the ongo onto Bobs. This was all an elaborate plan to take revenge on Christine. The person who lead to her child’s death.
The movie wraps up with Bobs picking various mushrooms from the woods. Much like Diana did earlier on in the movie. Bobs is now a witch (Ongo). She is in touch with nature and will be able to make spells and cures from the earth. Diana clearly watches on in the background. Just as the old lady that passed on the Ongo powers to Diana did with her. This is what Diana meant. She will always be with Bobs, watching over her. Bobs smiles, happy to know she is not alone.
Nocebo – The Phone Call Christine Received Was About The Fire
So, in summary, this was a story of revenge. The movie starts with Christine receiving a phone call. This phone call is informing Christine that there has been a fire. A fire that happened to take place at her clothing production factory. Christine used to design and produce clothes herself. Hence the old fashioned sewing machine in her house. She does not do this any more. She outsources that work to the Philippines.
Remember when Christine tells Diana that she has little helpers make her clothes? She was referring to people in the Philippines. This is why Christine was unwilling to further discuss it. Despite Diana asking her who her little helpers were. Diana knew all along who she was referring to. Diana used to be one of those people. Christine realised that it is probably a touchy subject. Considering where Diana was born. As well as realising that the practice was rather exploitative.
Nocebo – A Story of South East Asian Exploitation by the West
Underpaid and impoverished people from South East Asia. Often have to take on jobs producing clothes for Western fast fashion. These clothes are cheap and the workers are grossly underpaid. Many people will have heard of these practices. They are often referred to as sweatshops. Sweatshops often have links to organised crime and human trafficking.
People are forced to work many hours in terrible conditions for virtually no money at all. They have no rights and are taken advantage of. Both by factory owners and the Western fashion industry. Numerous stories can be found highlighting the suffering of these people. It is widely considered that fast fashion outlets have blood on their hands. All in the name of rapidly changing lines of cheap and low quality clothes.
Nocebo – Christine Was Exploiting Impoverished People for Profit
The conditions these people work in were made worse by Christine. We see her visiting the factory and making demands. She wants the doors locked so staff can’t steal products. She also wants their production upped to 30 items per hour instead of just 20. A massive increase that will overwork the staff even further.
She had little regard for the people. Caring only about profit and money. It’s alluded to that, despite the accident, she still hadn’t changed. She was willing to exploit similar methods for her new fashion line. Even using South East Asian themes in the commercial for her clothes.
Nocebo – Diana Was So Poor She Had To Work At The Sweatshop
Diana was forced to work at the sweatshop. Despite being a powerful healer. She was rejected by her neighbours and considered a witch. Wanting to avoid the stigma, she stopped healing people. The family were chased out of their homes by a militia who had been paid to clear the land for mining. Living in abject poverty, Diana has no choice but to take the incredibly low paying job.
Having no money for childcare. Diana has to take her child with her to work. Her already terrible work situation is made worse by Christine’s new demands. She has to work longer hours and faster than before. The factory is sweltering and the old, defective, fan isn’t working. Diana’s daughter is thirsty. Diana tells her boss she needs to get a drink. Her boss checks her for any stolen garments before unlocking the only exit. An exit that Christine demanding was locked to prevent staff stealing.
Nocebo – Diana’s Daughter is Killed in the Sweatshop Fire
While out buying coconut water. The manager of the sweatshop hits the fan to get it back on. This prompts the fan to spark. A spark drops into a fabric bin which quickly catches fire. The fire engulfs the sweatshop, burning people alive. Diana’s daughter is trapped inside. She can’t escape and just covers her eyes so she doesn’t see people dying.
Diana runs back to the factory. Because Christine demanded that the door be locked. She can’t get in and nobody can get out. Diana’s daughter dies in the fire leaving Diana distraught. If Christine hadn’t demanded that the door be locked. For the sake of saving a small amount of money. The factory workers would have been able to escape. Because of Christine, they couldn’t and now Diana’s daughter is dead.
Nocebo – Diana Puts a Hex on Christine
Planning to take revenge on Christine. Diana uses her powers to send a spirit version of the dog to Christine’s location. The dog shakes and the tick bites Christine. Putting a hex on her and beginning Diana’s plan to take revenge. It isn’t enough for Diana to kill Christine, though. She wants to make her face up to what she did. To do that, she has to get close to her.
Diana needs Christine’s hair, blood, and nail clippings for a spell. A spell that will force her to experience the suffering of the sweatshop workers. As well as that of Diana’s daughter. This is Christine’s judgement.
Diana tells her husband that she has to go. She knows she will kill herself when she is done. She tells him that she will not see him again but he will hear her. At the end of the movie, after Diana has died. Her spirit appears at the window and speaks to Jomar, thanking him for everything he did for her. The movie ends with a tribute to the 74 victims of the horrific Kentex Slipper factory fire. A tragedy reminiscent of the one that killed Diana’s daughter.
Nocebo – A Social Commentary on Fast Fashion
So that’s the entire events of Nocebo explained. The movie is a social commentary about the ills of fast fashion. For every cheap item of clothing produced. Only to be worn for a few weeks and discarded for the next fad garment. A person living in unimaginable poverty is forced to work in sweat shops. Making virtually no money and enduring horrific, dangerous, conditions. It’s a shocking way to live and the people in these countries suffer terribly. All for the sake of cheap clothes.
I’m not preaching, though. For some of us. Fast fashion offers an opportunity to cloth themselves without breaking the bank. Just think twice before you throw that item away or let it sit in the back of your wardrobe. Someone likely suffered to produce that. If you can afford to, maybe look into more socially conscious options. The social commentary element in Nocebo wasn’t handled particularly well. It was very ham-fisted and obvious. Still, it is no less important and is worthy of your attention.
Nocebo – Thanks for Reading!
Thanks for reading, I know this was a massive article. If you enjoyed it, I would love for you to stick around. I review Horror Movies, I Explain Horror Movie Endings and I make Horror Lists. My content is always fleshed out and I update almost every day of the week. There’s no 300 word reviews and click bait articles here. I am a horror fan and I write for horror fans.