Welcome to Knockout Horror. We finished up with our K-O-Ween 31 Days of Halloween feature this past week. It was a fun venture and I think we topped 2022’s list with the movies we picked this month. I particularly enjoyed checking out one of my horror favourites Psycho in the cinema and we revisited a bunch of classics.
It’s time to get back to what we do best, though, and that is looking at low grade horror on Tubi. Speaking of which, today we are explaining the ending to The Haunting of Julia Fields from 2023. We reviewed this movie a few months back and found it to be fairly inoffensive, if not a bit on the boring side. I’ve now noticed that we are getting a decent number of views on our review.
Putting two and two together, that probably means people are wanting some explanation of the story. And that is what we do, and that is what we will be doing a lot more in the future. So let’s get November rolling with an ending explained for The Haunting of Julia Fields. We’ll start off with a summary and then we will answer some pressing questions.
Obviously this article will contain spoilers so keep that in mind if you haven’t watched the movie yet. You can check out our spoiler free review of The Haunting of Julia Fields first, watch the movie and come back here to check out this article. Okay, let’s take a look.
The Haunting of Julia Fields Summary
We kick things off with young woman Julia Fields (Callie Grayson) driving to her new home in Florida. She is switching up her location to escape a bad relationship with her ex-boyfriend Xavier (Noah Diggs – for some reason there is a cast member for Xavier even though he is simply a picture on a phone and a few text messages). Julia seems happy about the whole thing and blissfully unaware of how washed out the camera is here. It’s like they turned the brightness up as high as they could and tried to fix the oversaturated mess in after effects.
She’s greeted at her new home by “homeowner” Sam (Kinda acted by Austin Janowsky). If you think it is shocking enough that Julia would be able to rent such a nice little place, completely furnished, on a working from home budget and spend most of her time on the beach. Things are about to get even crazier because there is something fishy about Sam. And it’s not just the fact that he is a landlord who arrives to fix problems within 24 hours of Julia calling him.
Some Weird Stuff Happens
Things get weird pretty quick. Firstly, the lamp in the bedroom is knocked over when Julia conducts her viewing. And, secondly, trash is collected twice a week on a Tuesday and Thursday. Do you know that in the Welsh county that I live in, trash is only collected once a month? Seriously, once a month! Luckily, recycling is collected once a week so we aren’t swimming in our own filth.
Julia chats on the phone with her friend, obviously setting up what happens at the end of the movie. You know this friend is a pivotal character in the plot because they actually hired an actor to play her. She isn’t just a voice on the other end of the phone. These low budget movies ain’t all about paying people they don’t have to pay.
Julia seems pretty hyped to have her own place but the novelty is going to wear off pretty quickly. A knock at the door turns out to actually be nobody. This is the start of a bunch of weird stuff that, when taken in context with the ending, doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
Some More Weird Stuff Happens
The most consistent weird thing is that Julia’s lamp keeps falling over but it doesn’t seem to spook her too much. She makes a video for social media talking about her new place and how she needs to get some sort of sticker to indicate she is now a true Floridian. Couldn’t she just have committed an extremely bizarre crime or chewed someone’s face off when high on bath salts like everyone else? Little does Julia realise that a figure stands in the background of her video. It’s a pretty bulky shape that trends towards rotund so we can probably assume that this is Sam. Sounds strange but it will all make sense later on.
We get a pointless shower scene illuminated by one of those cheap LED shower lights purely to set up Julia hearing a noise. Does anyone else think shower scenes are completely redundant in horror? I get it if you want to fit in some cheap boob shots or some dude’s six pack. But what is the point when they are tightly framed face shots? They rarely make for good scares and just feel awkward due to said framing. Anyways, we briefly see a figure pass by the camera as Julia explores the house. Judging by the rather soft and fleshy chin line, we can assume this is Sam. Sounds strange but it will all make sense later on.
Julia works at her computer, I assume, on floorplans. Maybe she is an interior designer? You are going to see this room flip around every now and then throughout the movie. Not for any specific reason, just because of poor editing or a lazy attempt to add some spooky ambiance. When Julia heads off to bed, she feels unsettled. During the night, her sheets are ripped off the bed and some hairy handed humanoid figure peers out from the closet. Given his general hairiness and unkempt appearance, we can assume this is Sam. Sounds strange but it will all make sense later on.
It Gets a Bit Silly For Awhile
This movie has been cramming in a lot of horror cliches but it is about to get even worse. Julia finds handprints on her attic hatch and hears scratching so calls Sam assuming it must be.. err.. human handed mice or something? Julia heads to the beach on what is the most dull, overcast, Florida day I have ever seen.
When she gets back, Sam is already in the house. Shocked, seemingly due to a lack of experience with landlords, Julia questions him. Sam tells her in Florida landlords have the right to enter at any time for inspection or repair. Which is the first of many things that are not true about this movie. Floridian landlords can enter at any time for protection or preservation of the property. Repair and inspections require a period of notice before entering. Ghost landlord rules must be different.
Julia begins to receive messages from her ex-boyfriend Xavier. You would think she would have him blocked on all platforms given the history between them and having to move state and all but whatever. He warns her about the figure standing in the back ground of her video. She doubts him but checks on it just to be sure and he was right. There is someone standing in the background near the door.
So writer director Joseph Mazzaferro throws in a few more horror cliches here as we get to the all too common “is it all in her head angle”. It is suggested that Julia has some form of mental illness and has suffered psychosis in the past. Setting in stone the potential mental illness explanation for everything that will happen.
That’s the least of her problems, however, as she somehow manages to burn her toast. Later on, she has a dream about Sam strangling her. Followed immediately by another dream about Sam strangling her. The old classic double dip dream scare. Sam arrives and sets some traps to catch the human handed mice in her attic. While he is there, Sam uses words and phrases that Julia has been using, implying that Sam is able to see and hear Julia even when he is not there.
Julia’s room flips the other way around for a shot or two here (poor editing I imagine, not a scare). Julia’s phone rings on the left hand side of her desk, when she answers it, the phone is suddenly on the right side (poor editing, not a scare).
She tells her friend about her fears regarding Sam listening to her and her friend dismisses it as Julia being a bit of a loon. She tells her she is paranoid and not ready to be living alone. She then suggest that she needs a boyfriend to fix her up. Very progressive writing here. Her friend, who has so far been making this a lot worse, suggests coming over for a few days to keep Julia company. Julia agrees setting up the final events of the movie.
The Scary Guy at the Beach and More
Julia blows off finishing her work and hits the beach instead. I mean, it is a horribly windy day after all, what could be more relaxing? While there, she is approached by a rather unkempt looking fellow holding a bunch of balloons that, surprisingly, isn’t Sam. He tells her she should have the balloons and a boyfriend to cheer her up. More fantastically progressive writing. Julia is suitably freaked out, apparently forgetting that this is supposedly fairly normal for Florida, and drives away continuously looking over her shoulder.
When she gets home, she whips, what looks like, a 45 Magnum out of her drawer. A little overkill for self defence unless you also want to kill the person standing behind your intended target and the next door neighbour. But this is purely to inform the viewer that Julia has a gun. A gun that will leave a wound that is almost universally fatal.
More scary stuff happens. Julia hears noises around the house and from outside. And due to being paranoid about balloon guy and thinking she is being stalked; she sleeps with the Magnum on her lap. A great way to blow your own testicles off. Julia chats with her friend on the phone, relating her fears to help set up the final scenes a bit more. With the friend instructing Julia to leave her a key so that she can come in to her on her own when she gets there. It’s Julia’s birthday soon explaining why the friend is going to be carrying a balloon when she comes in.
More cliches abound with Julia going to a church for some reason. On her way home she sees an eviction notice on her door directed to the home owner. She contacts Sam to let him know what it says. Sam comes over, tells her it is a mistake and that he will get sorted. He offers to check the traps before leaving. Only to reappear seconds later and do the same thing again as if it never happened the first time. Julia turns around to see the eviction notice on the table again as if she never gave it to him. My fiancee pointed out here that the eviction notice still had the fold in it from when Sam folds it up first time around. They should have printed two copies I guess. Anyways, all of this prompts Julia to start taking her medication again because it must all be in her head, right?
A Big Revelation
Julia wakes after hearing a noise. Heading through her house to investigate, she encounters a figure at the front door. The figure wears a black hoodie and a creepy looking mask. Julia runs in fear before waking up against the wall with no figure around. She wanders through the house and checks the window while wielding her trusty magnum. Nobody is there and everything is normal. Her hair looks like it hasn’t been washed in weeks. I am guessing they really don’t give the actors in these movies chances to shower much.
There’s another eviction notice on the door with a number to call. Sam was, obviously, supposed to get this sorted but Julia is quickly learning that a landlord’s word is not exactly gospel. She calls Sam and he immediately shows up at the door. Julia is, naturally, shocked as getting a landlord out normally takes a week but she only called seconds ago. Sam informs her that she actually called at 10am and it is now 5pm. That’s gonna incur an out of ours charge, I’ll bet. Before Julia called Sam, she called the bank. He is, understandably, a bit pissed off as it isn’t her responsibility or her business. The real reason for his anger is about to become clear, however, as the bank calls her back.
Sam Was Dead The Whole Time
The bank tell Julia about the owner of the house and things suddenly seem a lot more strange. Julia drops the phone and immediately hits up a search engine. She searches for “Sam Wells Yost Town Murdeers sic“. There she comes across a page featuring a mug shot of our very own Sam Wells and a passage referring to a horrible crime scene. Ermm, I am not sure where this mug shot comes from as we know Sam offed himself after the murders. Maybe it was from before? I don’t know, anyways.
Sam had actually murdeered sic his own wife and child and then lived with their rotting corpses for over a month. His wife’s body was found locked inside the back bedroom. I am assuming the one where the lamp keeps falling over. And his son’s body was found in the attic. Remember the scratching from the attic? Yeah, it was kid hands.. Not human handed mice.
The child had been neglected and kept in his own faeces for his entire life. His wife was kept locked in the bedroom with only a lamp. A lamp which she had to keep on all night so he could monitor her on a security camera. Apparently Sam was cheap as well as a despicable human canker sore because even affordable cameras have competent night vision. We use a crappy TP Link one to watch our pet pygmy hedgehog, Spirit, at night.
Sam then killed himself. Leaving officers to discover the crime scene later on. My favourite thing about this part of the movie is the newspaper article clipping that shows a picture of Sam Wells and, supposedly, talks about the murders. When, in actual fact, it is talking about a study conducted by physicist Dr Russell Humphreys on the Reversals of the Earth’s Magnetic Field During the Genesis Flood. More poor editing and production here. So Sam has been dead this whole time.
Julia Pops her Friend
Day turns to night but not immediately as the movie makes it appear. The implication here is that Julia has been researching about Sam for hours without realising. You know, rather than leaving the house that she has been renting from a murderous ghost landlord with the utmost of haste. Julia’s friend suddenly arrives. Remember how she said she doesn’t know what time she will get there and to leave a key?
Julia’s friend lets herself in and Julia is startled. She runs to her drawer to grab her 45, heads to the front door and fires at the shadow in the doorway without a second thought. You Americans and your defend your castle laws. Speaking of which, we’ll get back to this in a second. Seeing the balloon that the friend was carrying, it is safe to assume that Julia thought this was the balloon guy from the beach stalking her and entering her house. Julia’s friend drops dead because she now has a brand new .45 calibre orifice in her chest and Julia realises what has happened.
So, in summary, Julia rented her house off of a ghost. The ghost was of a person who had kept his wife and child captive in the house before murdering them. The man then killed himself and, I guess, was doomed to spend the afterlife as a small property landlord. Forever condemned to an eternity of answering stupid questions, fixing minor problems, performing pest control in tiny attics and crawlspaces and hassling people for the rent.
Julia, completely rattled by the ghostly encounters and, obviously, traumatic haunting. Suffered a relapse in her mental health condition. Leading to her becoming horribly paranoid and potentially suffering psychosis. What about the dude with the balloons I hear you ask. Wasn’t he super creepy and acting really strange? It’s Florida, this was just your normal, run of the mill, weirdo about to appear in the news for eating eyeballs or setting his own junk on fire or something. Julia’s paranoia lead her to believe that he was stalking her. In turn, causing her to accidentally shoot her friend in a case of mistaken identity.
Julia was, apparently, convicted of murder but found legally not competent to stand trial. Or, as the movie’s flavour text puts it… “Trail”. She currently remains in a psychiatric hospital where she will spend the remainder of her life sentence. But wait, I thought she was legal incompetent to stand trail sic. How did she get a life sentence? Shall we break some of this stuff down a little bit?
Would Julia be Charged with Murder?
So let’s repeat what the movie itself said – Julia was found legally incompetent to stand trial. Apparently, again according to the movie, the doctors said the delusions were all in her mind. A bit of a moot point as that is the very definition of delusions but this movie isn’t exactly renowed for getting things right.
Now, if that happens, it doesn’t matter how good the prosecution’s case is, they can’t prosecute. The police and prosecution can make charges, but a conviction can not be pursued until the charged is capable of standing trial. Julia is not able to stand trial.
The movie also states that Julia was convicted of murder. This is not possible due to Julia being found legally incompetent to stand trial. No trial, no conviction. No trial and no conviction means no sentence so Julia would not be living out her sentence in a psychiatric hospital. It could be assumed that she is being kept in a psychiatric hospital until she is fit to stand trial. And this can be indefinite; but she is not serving her sentence there because she was too ill to stand trial and be sentenced.
What Should Have Happened?
When Julia recovered from her state of psychosis and mental incapacity. She would have to stand trial. When she stands trial, the likelihood of her being found to be Not Guilty by reason of insanity is fairly high.
Not everyone who is mentally ill would be found not guilty on ground of insanity for a crime like this. But if the defence can make a solid case that Julia was suffering from psychosis at the time of the crime and the crime was a result of this. She would likely fit the criteria for a not guilty by way of insanity plea.
This isn’t a get out of jail free card, however. In cases like this, defendants are often placed into the care of a psychiatric hospital until a time that they are deemed to be “not a threat to society”. Doctors tend to use a lot of liberal interpretation when it comes to this designation so these people can end up spending the rest of their lives in psychiatric facilities. Even longer than if they were convicted in a lot of cases.
But Wait, There’s More
Putting aside the fact that Julia was clearly suffering from paranoia and psychosis and her friend’s death was a result of this. What about Julia’s right to “stand her ground”? For those of you who don’t know. This is an active legal defence in Florida, and many states in the US, and you are entitled to protect yourself and your home with deadly force if needed. If someone intends to do you harm, you can protect yourself. Even if that means blowing someone’s head off or giving them a new breathing hole somewhere in their general chest area.
I mean, she believe she was being stalked and thought an intruder was entering her home and took reasonable (in the eyes of US law) steps to defend herself with a weapon she legally owned. It was simply a case of mistaken identity. At the most, unless the prosecution could prove that Julia invited her friend to her house with the intention of murdering her the second she stepped through the door. This would be a manslaughter case resulting in a shorter prison sentence. And that is at the very most. Remember, murder requires intent. the murder charge was never on the table here and never would have been.
The reality is, however, this type of thing happens all the time. Between 2015 and 2018 there were over 47 cases of mistaken identity shooting in the USA. Friends shooting friends, cousins shooting cousins, grandparents shooting their grandchildren. It is just the reality of a paranoid populace having access to weapons with the potential to kill.
If you want to know whether Julia Fields would have been convicted of this crime, ask the parent of Yoshihiro Hattori. Even in cases where there is a clear overreaction and a clear eagerness to shoot first and ask questions later. The killers often get away completely free with no conviction. The most inconvenience a lot of them get is a month or two without their weapons before they are returned by police. That leads us nicely on to our next question.
What was the true story behind The Haunting of Julia Fields?
This has to be the big question here, right, and probably the reason why you found this site? What was the true story behind The Haunting of Julia Fields. The reality here is that this movie is not based on a true story. This is super common in low budget horror movies and very common with stuff on Tubi. It’s a nice bit of flavour text, brings in a whole new audience and also adds credence to, what is, an otherwise rather bland and boring ghost story.
This never happened. A ghost never rented a house to a woman who then went on to kill her friend. There was no Julia Fields, no Sam Wells and no shooting. So is the story based on a few different true stories merged together? Well, perhaps. There was a case of a Floridian man killing his ex wife and child over excessive electricity usage. That might fit but even more fitting is the fairly recent case of Anthony Todt. This case is quite well documented in true crime communities and is rather horrific. Todt killed his wife and kids in Florida and their bodies were only discovered once letters began to pile up on the porch and an eviction notice was placed on the house. There’s also a number of other famous murder-suicide cases that maybe fit the bill but nothing specific.
The case of Florida woman Alexis Bukrym bears some similarities to the final events of the movie. With her shooting her roommate as he came through the front door and leaving him in a coma for a number of weeks. Bukrym’s roommate was attempting to prank her but she assumed he was an intruder and reacted. Perhaps this provided a bit of inspiration but the truth is, the events of this movie are so vague, they amount to a fictional story with some inspiration from reality. The Haunting of Julia Fields is not based on a true story. This is just something directors of low budget crap like to say to get people chatting on reddit and it usually works.
Was it all in Julia Field’s Mind?
I mean, this is a reasonable assumption given her history of paranoia and mental illness, right? Was Julia Fields simply paranoid and uneasy because she had just escaped a bad relationship and moved away on her own. Let’s be honest, it’s a stressful situation moving out. Julia had deadlines to hit for work, she didn’t know anyone and was having broken sleep. All of these things are a recipe for worsening an existing mental illness or causing a relapse. She wasn’t taking her medication, either.
Perhaps Julia was hallucinating her meetings with Sam. Perhaps she already knew of the history of the house and subconsciously created a scenario around it. Hence the strange time lapses. The eviction notice may have been because she wasn’t paying her rent. She was slacking off at work, after all, and might have had less money. The balloon man might have meant her no harm but her paranoia made her think the worst. Leading her to shoot her friend accidentally. Psychosis is a strange thing and can weave an intricate world that the sufferer has no choice but to completely believe in.
The things that go against this are, predominantly, her ex-boyfriend seeing a figure in the background of her video. And the eviction notice clearly being from a mortgage company. The mortgage company wouldn’t evict Julia, the landlord would. Julia actually contacts the mortgage company, as well. The reality, in the world of the movie at least, is that Julia was being haunted. The stress of the haunting aggravated her mental health condition and caused her to relapse. Leading to her suffering paranoia and killing her friend in a case of mistaken identity.
Thanks for Reading
So that’s The Haunting of Julia Fields’ ending explained. I know it’s frustrating to not have a concrete true story for this movie. But directors do this all the time and it is really annoying. Putting in the picture that was supposed to be Julia Fields at the end was an extra little touch that I haven’t seen them do before. It’s pretty cheap to be honest but very on trend for Tubi horror.
If you made it to the end, great. I really appreciate your time. As I always say, I try to do things a little different here. I like to write as if we are two friends chatting in a room together. Why not stick around and check out some Horror Movie Reviews, some Horror Movie Lists or some Horror Movie Ending Explained articles? Catch you later!