Play Dead (2022) Ending Explained

Play Dead (2022) Horror Movie Ending Explained

Welcome to Knockout Horror and to another Horror Movie Ending Explained. It’s been awhile since I actually put together an ending explained article. The focus, as of late, has been on redesigning the front end of the site. Speeding things up and doing other things. We are back, though, and ready to explain the ending to the horror thriller Play Dead from 2022.

Tubi Horror Movies

We covered Play Dead as part of a special Horror on Tubi feature. Everyone’s finances are a bit stretched lately. What with the ridiculous cost of, literally, everything. I have noticed a lot of people are kicking their streaming subscriptions to the kerb. I’m looking at you Netflix with all of your password sharing bollocks. With this in mind, I have decided to place a little more focus on free streaming services. Horror that won’t hammer your wallet. Scares that won’t scar your bank balance. Frugal frights.. Whatever, you get the picture.

It would be pointless of me to cover all the great horror available on Tubi. I mean, I have already looked at a few in a couple of lists. But I wanted to go in a different direction. For the month of June we covered nothing but low budget horror on Tubi. If it had a terrible cover, an awful name and a ridiculous synopsis. We were watching and reviewing it. I encourage you to check the feature out as it was a lot of fun. Some of the movies were surprisingly great, as well. Play Dead, in my opinion, was not one of those movies. Play Dead was painfully average. Why not check out our review?

Play Dead Ending Explained

If you have arrived at this article. You are probably feeling a little baffled by some of the ridiculous shit that happens in Play Dead. Whereas the ending isn’t particularly complicated. The movie features a few things that need some explanation. It’s also worth us going into some of the character motivations here. As well as pointing out why some of the plot points don’t make sense.

Obviously this article couldn’t exist without spoilers. If you haven’t watched the movie yet. You probably want to go and check Play Dead out on Tubi. Come back here and carry on reading. Our review for Play Dead is spoiler free so you can give that a read first, if you like. Without further ado, let’s go. I am approaching this a little differently from usual to avoid bulk. Expect less story detail and more explanation for specific points.

What Happened to Chloe and T.J’s Father?

Chloe (Bailee Madison) and T.J’s (Anthony Turpel) father has recently passed away. We learn that early on. Chloe briefly looks at a picture of her family. It might be just my imagination, but it looks as though her mother is rather unwell in the photo. It can be inferred that Chloe’s father likely took care of his ailing wife. Potentially right up until her death. This left Chloe’s father with serious mental health problems.

Play Dead (2022) Ending Explained
Chloe’s mum appears to have been ill. Cared for by her husband and later passing away.

He was suffering from PTSD and anxiety. Resulting in him needing to take anti-psychotic medication. Paid for by his medical insurance. Unfortunately, after awhile, the insurance company deemed the medication unnecessary. Something that seems to happen a lot in the USA. This left him un-medicated which resulted in his symptoms reappearing. During a psychotic episode, he committed suicide.

Why Do Chloe and T.J. Need Money?

A good question considering their parents would have, likely, had life insurance. It turns out that, despite Chloe’s father’s death, the insurance company refused to pay out. Deeming suicide as a cause of death that they can refuse payout for. From my understanding, this is something of a long standing myth. Most life insurance companies will typically pay out on suicide as long as you are passed a certain cut off point. If someone was to commit suicide within the first year, for example, they would not pay out.

Play Dead (2022) Ending Explained
The bank wants to foreclose on the house leaving Chloe homeless

This makes sense as it protects them from deliberate fraud. But the point to underscore here is that Chloe’s dad should have gotten some better life insurance. The siblings need money so that they can continue to make payments on the mortgage. If they can’t pay, the bank will foreclose, leaving them homeless. Something they are threatening to do early on in the movie. And something that prompts T.J. to go through with his plan.

Why Doesn’t Chloe Get a Job?

This raises a couple of questions. Why doesn’t Chloe get a job, for one? She is a medical student. But it is rather common for students to work jobs to pay for accommodation. In fact, if you are poor and don’t receive a paid scholarship. This is an absolute must. Apparently Chloe hasn’t received her student loan payment. And apparently she isn’t interested in taking a part time job or dropping out of university.

Given that she would own a home. She wouldn’t have to pay for accommodation which would save her some money. Meaning she could work to pay off the mortgage while she studied. T.J. could also pick up a job, doubling their income. Especially given that he has no prospects and is choosing to rob people. Obviously he viewed committing serious crime as the only way to earn money. It doesn’t exactly endear you to these two characters, does it? In summary, this is simply poor story writing.

What Was T.J’s Plan in Play Dead?

T.J. made a plan with Chloe’s ex-boyfriend Ross (Chris Lee). The pair had decided to rob a dispensary at gun point. Make off with the cash and get the hell out of there. Don’t worry, though. It’s only a fake gun as if that makes it any better. The cash would then be used to help clear up the mortgage payments with the bank. Ross, who is portrayed as something of a misunderstood rogue, wants to help Chloe. Hence why he is willing to rob the store. If he can get in her underwear again when all is said and done. Then that’s just a bonus.

Play Dead (2022) Ending Explained
The pair hatch a plan to get the incriminating evidence back

T.J. is supposed to be the wheel man and drive the pair away from the dispensary when Ross exits with the money. The only problem is that the owner of the dispensary is packing. He blasts Ross as he runs away from the store. Something that would be quite difficult to justify in court, I imagine. And Ross falls to the floor, apparently dead, while T.J. escapes. T.J. is wounded by some glass fragments so heads home. On the way, he ditches the car and sets it on fire.

Why Does Chloe Need to Play Dead?

This is, probably, the most obvious question in the movie. T.J. was a dumb ass and planned the entire robbery on an iPhone. The iPhone was on Ross when he was shot and “killed”. This iPhone has enough information to implicate T.J. in the crime. Potentially sending him away to prison for a number of years. The iPhone has been taken to the local morgue with Ross’s corpse and placed in an evidence room. Not sure if this is standard practice. Seems like that type of stuff would go to the cop shop but whatever.

Chloe, determined to prevent her brother from going to prison. Decides to pervert the course of justice by retrieving the phone. The only problem is, they can’t break into the morgue. It is fenced off at the back. The coroner will not let them in and there is a guard dog patrolling. So what is the easiest way to get into the morgue? Why by being rolled in on a gurney, of course. Which leads to Chloe’s next big brain moment.

How Does Chloe Plan to Play Dead?

Here’s where things start to get a little ridiculous. Chloe’s plan is quite simple. She wants to fake her own death so that she will be taken into the morgue. When she gets there, she will be able to retrieve the cell phone. Naturally, this depends on a fair amount of luck. For one, she has to depend on the fact that she will be taken to the correct morgue.

Luckily, as is mentioned in the movie. The majority of fatalities are being funneled to this morgue. The reason given is because of overcrowding in the others. The real reason is because the police officer sending them there is crooked and is in on the organ harvesting scam.

Play Dead (2022) Ending Explained
Chloe and T.J purchase Propofol

T.J. and Chloe go and visit a local veterinary nurse that T.J. used to buy the stimulant Adderall off. Another minority character portrayed as being of questionable repute. Not a good look makers of Play Dead, not a good look. And purchase some of the hypnotic medication Propofol off of her.

What is Propofol?

Propofol is a short-acting medication that is commonly used as an anesthetic. When used intravenously, it brings on sedation rapidly and predictably. An experienced anesthesiologist will administer the drug at balanced intervals to keep a person sedated during medical procedures. When the procedure is complete. The medication can be ceased and a person will typically wake up within 15 minutes.

The reason Propofol is used is because it is highly predictable. The majority of people will experience sedation almost immediately. They will stay sedated as long as the drug is in their system. And the sedation effects will wear off incredibly quickly when the drug is stopped. Side effects are fairly minimal and the drug is difficult to overdose from. Propofol is very safe in the hands of a trained professional.

Things Get Really Silly

Chloe hangs out under a bridge and prepares to inject the drug. She wants the paramedics who pick her up to think she is a drug overdose victim. Call for the coroner and have her taken straight to the morgue. She injects herself in the arm and quickly passes out. This is where things really start to fall apart. Aside from how ridiculous this is. And how it would have made far more sense to smash a window and hold the coroner at gun point to get the phone. I mean, in for a penny in for a pound, and all. The way it plays out makes no sense.

Chloe injects the drug into her muscle as if it is a vaccine or hormone injection. Propofol is an intravenous drug that has to be injected into a vein to work. Chloe quickly passes out and wakes up in the morgue. In reality, if Chloe had injected the drug into her veins and had managed to not overdose. She would have woken up 15 minutes later, in a pool of her own piss or someone else’s, still under the bridge. The paramedics wouldn’t have even had a chance to arrive.

Play Dead (2022) Ending Explained
Chloe passes our under a bridge after taking Propofol

If the paramedics did arrive. They would at least make some cursory checks for life. This isn’t Romeo and Juliet. They wouldn’t just bag her, tag her and send her off to the morgue. I have some very unfortunate experience with a family member dying of overdose. The paramedics still made resuscitation attempts even though the person had been dead for awhile. This plot is farcical even by horror standards. I guess we are to assume the crooked cop is the only person who attends unconscious people. People often say to just ignore the silliness when it comes to this type of thing. But when the movie kinda sucks it is rather difficult to.

What Happens at the Morgue?

Chloe arrives at the morgue. She wakes up feeling a bit sick and a little dizzy. Common side effects from Propofol. While there she begins looking around for the phone. She sees a young woman lying on the slab. Is a bit perturbed by the whole thing but carries on exploring. She then spies a strange conversation between the coroner (Jerry O’Connell) and another minority character of ill repute, Mannix (Jorge-Luis Pallo). Man these guys really should have thought about their casting a little harder.

The coroner is passing Mannix a cooler. Mannix talks about how his boss needs something else from the coroner. Something rather sinister. He hints at how grateful he is for alcoholic Hollywood movie producers as it keeps them in business. Chloe watches on, seemingly completely unaware of what is going on here. Despite the hints from the coroner and Mannix.

Is The Coroner Selling Organs in Play Dead?

That’s exactly what is happening. Frighteningly, there is a serious market for black market organs. This is a big problem in many parts of the world. With certain organs being worth over $100,000. People are, actually, frequently kidnapped and cut open to steal organs. Especially in more deprived parts of the world. There are strong links to human trafficking and the problem even extends to the theft of unborn fetuses. If that doesn’t make you feel a bit icky then I don’t know what will.

Play Dead (2022) Ending Explained
Chloe wakes naked in the morgue, grabbing a sheet to preserve her dignity from those pervy corpses

That doesn’t mean that just anyone can sell their organs on Craigslist and put a deposit down on a house, though. The person making all the money in these trades is the middleman. The person who acquires the organ and sells it on. Not the person the organ came from. If the person donating the organ actually even has any say in it. They will probably make less than a 20th of the value. Again, that’s if they have any say in the matter.

In this case, the coroner is selling the organs of the people who arrive at his morgue. The person collecting them is a simple gopher who collects and delivers. And his boss is the middle man selling the organs on and making all the money. The clients are wealthy business men who engage in drugs and alcohol. Ruin their bodies and then need organs from young people so they can keep on living. But wait, doesn’t that raise another question?

Don’t People Have to Consent to Donation?

In most parts of the world, yes they do. Funnily enough, not in the country I live in; Wales, UK. Here, if you don’t opt out for religious reasons, personal preference etc. They will harvest your organs regardless of whether you want them to or not. Much like the coroner here does. Speaking of which, the coroner in Play Dead isn’t particularly interested in consent.

You see, he has a whole operation in organ selling. The coroner is harvesting any viable organs from every one that comes in to the morgue. Many of the victims are young so he has his pick of healthy bodies. In fact, many of the people arriving at the morgue aren’t even dead. Which brings us onto our next point.

Why is Ross Still alive in Play Dead?

Chloe eventually finds Ross alive and looking a bit the worse for wear on a slab. He is feeling a bit ropey and he has a fancy looking set of staples where one of his kidneys used to be. So what is the deal? Didn’t he die? Well, no, Ross was never dead. The police officer who instructed one of his fellow officers to call for the coroner. Claiming he didn’t want someone lying dead in his street. Is actually supplying the coroner with young, fresh, victims. He knows that many of them are not dead. He also knows that these victims will be of much more use to the coroner.

Play Dead (2022) Ending Explained
The coroner restrains Chloe…… Poorly

Ross was actually being kept alive. The coroner had already taken one of his kidneys. That was, likely, the organ being given to Mannix earlier in the movie. Mannix said his boss now needs a healthy liver. Something that it would appear that Ross happens to be in possession of. Now, you can take a kidney and keep someone alive. But a liver is a little bit more important. It is rather more essential for basic functions like existing and not being dead. Which causes a bit of a problem. Ross needs a liver but so does the coroner. Unfortunately, there is only one liver to go around. Someone is going to have to go without and it isn’t going to be the coroner.

What About All Those People In The Basement?

Good question. When Chloe ventures deeper into the morgue. It becomes clear that the place is something of an organ farm. The coroner has been keeping a bunch of people alive in the basement. These people are missing eyes, legs, kidneys and all sorts of their interior squishy bits. The coroner, obviously, aims to take as much from these people as he possibly can. Sell the good bits and then throw away the rest.

Why didn’t the coroner take a liver from one of these people? Well, as is mentioned later on in the movie. These people are all ex addicts and alcoholics off of the street. Likely delivered to the coroner by the bent cop after being found on street corners. The livers of these people are, likely, no better than the ones they are set to replace. The only usable bits here are the parts that aren’t ruined by drugs and alcohol. Hence why the coroner needs Ross’s fresh and supple liver instead.

Chloe and Ross Try To Escape to No Avail

Chloe and Ross make a break for it. Unfortunately, the coroner notices his keys are missing. He checks his security cameras and sees the pair trying to escape. Locking them into the entrance area. He gases them, rendering the pair unconscious. Chloe wakes up strapped to a chair with Ross on the slab. She pleads for her and Ross’s life. The coroner hypocritically chastises her for committing crimes and wanting a leg up in life. Despite the fact that he is doing the very same thing.

He takes Ross’s liver and chills it using liquid nitrogen, I guess, ready for transportation. Ross promptly dies; something that would be quite likely if your liver suddenly fell out of your body. Cooling organs for transport it important. Hypothermia aids in keeping the organ viable when it is taken out of the body. The key thing here is how the organ was cooled as this comes into play later on. The coroner leaves and Chloe makes her escape.

Play Dead (2022) Ending Explained
Chloe threatens the coroner but he knows the gun isn’t real

On the way, she finds the evidence room. She takes the phone and, also, the BB gun that Ross used for the robbery. The coroner finds her in the evidence room where she threatens him with the gun. Knowing that loaded guns aren’t stored in evidence, the coroner approaches her. Chloe Christmas Stories him with the BB gun, blinding him long enough to get away. Chloe phones T.J. to moan about how much she has messed up. Prompting him to do another stupid thing.

Enter the Crooked Cop

T.J. calls the cops to try and help Chloe out. Willing to turn himself in to save her. The police arrive and he leads them to the morgue. The only problem is, the cop is Sheriff Duggan (Chris Butler). Yet another minority character that has been cast as a villain. Damn Play Dead, what is your problem? Anyways, it turns out that Duggan was in on this the whole time. He has been taking a cut on the side.

He has been funneling all deaths through the morgue. Offering the coroner a group of victims, both alive and dead, for him to harvest organs from. The coroner can tell him what he needs and Duggan will deliver it to him. Taking money for himself and telling nobody about it. The problem now is that Chloe and T.J. are aware of the scam. As Duggan walks in with T.J., Chloe appears at the entrance. It’s at this moment that Duggan shows his true colours. Hitting T.J. who, let’s be honest, deserved it.

The Pair Escape and Mannix Arrives

Chloe threatens Duggan with the BB gun which actually seems to work for awhile. That is until the coroner talks over the intercom system and tells Duggan that the gun is fake. Chloe lobs the gun at Duggan and the pair run. Hiding out away from the dog which is pursing them closely. A dog that, if you recall, Chloe earlier escaped from by feeding it the liver of her ex-boyfriend Ross. Which ties in nicely to the next part as the cop and the coroner notice that someone has arrived at the morgue. It is Mannix looking to collect the liver.

Play Dead (2022) Ending Explained
Chloe feeds Ross’s liver to the dog to distract it

Now Duggan doesn’t want Mannix to know that he is working with the coroner. The coroner agrees to talk to Mannix and tell him that they need more time. They have to source another liver, after all, as the dog needed the last one. Mannix suddenly realises that the coroner has managed to get a cop on side. Seemingly impressed at him managing to get a police officer to help him. And realising that he owed his friend $50 because the friend had bet him that the coroner had a cop involved. Mannix proclaims that he knew he could smell bacon. An unwise statement, apparently, as the resentful Sheriff Duggan appears and shoots Mannix.

The Coroner Still Needs a Liver

The coroner is still sans one liver and needs one desperately. Mannix lies heavily wounded on the floor. Duggan asks the coroner why they can’t use Mannix’s liver? The coroner tells him it would be pretty useless full of buckshot. The coroner has a better idea. He tells Duggan to get the tear gas and the coroner heads off to negotiate a better deal with the organ middle man. Meanwhile, Chloe decides to help the ailing Mannix.

Play Dead (2022) Ending Explained
I suppose Duggan’s death was fairly inventive

Getting Mannix to relative safety down in the basement. Mannix offers the pair a deal. $10,000 if they can get him out of there. T.J, who is starting to seem like little more than a hardened criminal at this point, says to make it 25K. Apparently they all agree when suddenly Duggan appears lobbing teargas into the room. Chloe tells T.J to put an oxygen mask on and get out of there while she deals with Duggan.

Chloe picks up an oxygen tank and a hammer while T.J heads off with Mannix. Unfortunately, T.J is as useless as always and gets himself caught by the coroner. Who then shoots all of the still living people that he has been harvesting organs from for however long. No happy ending for them, I guess. The coroner doesn’t want to leave any loose ends when all of this is done. While this goes on, Mannix hides under one of the beds sucking back on oxygen.

Chloe Kills Sheriff Duggan

At this point, Chloe is choking on the tear gas and stumbling around the basement. Even though she only looks mildly sweaty and not in much discomfort. We are lead to believe that this is pure hell for her. Luckily, this tear gas must have been purchased off of and isn’t quite up to scratch. Chloe channels all of her pretty white girl energy to spot the shape of Duggan looming through the fog. She hits the end of the oxygen canister with the hammer. Prompting a massive release of pressure and sending the canister straight into Duggan’s face holes. Yay, extra liver!

Play Dead (2022) Ending Explained
Happy reunions are kind of a theme in Play Dead

We can’t forget, however, that while all of this is happening. The coroner has T.J on a slab measuring him up for a new hole in his abdomen. Chloe heads up to find T.J lying on the table looking a bit rough. Having not learned anything from any horror movie ever. She approaches T.J who informs her that the coroner is behind her. The coroner attacks her with a scalpel. Pushing her against a wall and stating “an eye for an eye”. Remember how Chloe shot him in the eye earlier on? Well now he wants to do the same to hers. Only, his eye looks completely fine right now.

Stupid Coroner

I guess he should have avoided the foreplay, though, as Chloe finds the liquid nitrogen canister. She sprays it on the coroner’s face while screaming maniacally. The coroner’s face is frozen, looking like some deep freeze beef mince. He swings wildly at Chloe who hits him over the head with the canister. Knocking him into some equipment and smashing his face like a Mortal Kombat fatality. Understandably pissed, the coroner grabs a saw and starts swinging frantically. He grabs Chloe around the throat and, having not learned his lesson, once again chooses to taunt her rather than just finishing the job.

Play Dead (2022) Ending Explained
Chloe might actually be crazier than the coroner

Mannix appears behind him and stabs him in the back. The coroner turns his attention to Mannix who passes the knife to Chloe. Chloe stabs the coroner through the skull. Wise cracking and laughing maniacally as she does it. Reminding us that the whole good and bad thing here is a little more complicated than it is in your average movie. She’s having a great time feeling that blade scraping the inside of the coroner’s skull like she is scooping out the white from a boiled egg.

And They All Live Traumatically Ever After

The cop is dead, the coroner has a hole in his previously solid skull, and Mannix is doing okay. There’s only one thing left – the liver harvesting. Remember how Chloe is a medical student in her second year? Well, apparently, she has already done clean organ removal. She removes the coroner’s liver and slaps it in the cooler ready for Mannix. Hence, he gets to keep his job as an organ runner. I don’t know if he has considered how pissed his boss will be now that he has to find a new organ harvester. But, whatever, Mannix transfers $25,000 to T.J’s account. A deal is a deal after all and he got his liver. Chloe calls the dog with the whistle. The dog bounds in looking adorable and the group exits the morgue safely.

Chloe hands T.J the phone, effectively getting rid of the only evidence of his involvement in the robbery. Hopefully she also deleted all the security camera footage of them raising hell in the morgue. Chloe and T.J. accept a lift home from Mannix. Because you definitely want a gangster knowing where you live. The dog eats away at the insides of its former master because we all love a happy ending. And Chloe and the gang ride off into the sunset. None the worse for the horrifying things they just witnessed.

Play Dead (2022) Ending Explained
Chloe looks like she is going to really miss stabbing skulls

Isn’t it funny how Chloe doesn’t even get remotely dirty during this movie? It’s like Bailee Madison had a no filth clause written into her contract. In my head canon, T.J and Chloe fall out of the back of Mannix car on the way home. Roll down an embankment and into a river, never to be heard from again. Let’s be real, these two were fucked up before this happened. Imagine what they would be like after. Scary.

Thanks for Reading

I really wanted this article to be a lot shorter, I really did. I just can’t help ranting and over explaining. And there was so much to rant about with Play Dead. It is so very silly. Anyways, thanks for reading. I hope you made it to the end but I kinda doubt it.

If you did, why not stick around? Check out some more Ending Explained articles. I also review horror movies and I also recently started writing horror lists. I update nearly every day of the week so there is always something new. On top of that, I never put out fluff. Just substantial horror content for horror fans to get their teeth into.