American Psycho Ending Explained - What Really Happened?

American Psycho Ending Explained – What Really Happened?

Within the umbrella of psychological thrillers, only a few movies have disturbed and baffled audiences. From the list of the few movies that have shaken viewers, American Psycho tops the list. The movie explores the twisted mentality of Bateman and portrays a Wallstreet yuppie who turns into a ruthless killer. But nothing beats the movie’s end because it will leave ambiguous and wanting more. 

In hopes of uncovering the layers of the movie, come along with us as we dissect every hidden message to discover what lies beneath the surface. From going through the series of metaphors, various symbols, and subtexts, we’ll attempt to reach the depth of Patrick’s mindset. Let the climax roll out, and buckle up as the truth awaits you. Here’s American Psycho’s ending explained to help you understand what happened!

American Psycho Ending 

In the horrific finale of American Psycho, the mysterious Patrick Bateman finds himself calling his lawyer without a valid reason and lets out a chilling confession of killing numerous people, including his ex-girlfriend, Paul Allen, and even innocent homeless victims. When Bateman returns to Paul’s flat the next morning to cover up his horrific deeds, he learns a weird turn of events as the sun rises. To his surprise, the flat now displays the availability sign, indicating a puzzling change in the story.

Bateman meets his attorney in an unusual face-to-face encounter while entangled in a complicated web of lies. The attorney initially shrugs off Bateman’s admission as a twisted joke, finding humor in the bizarre incident. 

However, the tension of the movie grows when Bateman insists that his statements are entirely true. The persistence frustrates his lawyer, and he ends the conversation quickly. What is more complicating is how Bateman is given amnesty and escapes the hard grasp of the law. Bateman had hoped that by revealing the truth, he would be relieved, but it becomes even more terrifying.

The remorseful murderer resumes his routine as he returns to his normal and interacts with his official colleagues as if nothing happened. To summarise, his actions have no consequences, leaving you questioning the morally corrupt society. 

American Psycho: What Really Happened 

American Psycho: What Really Happened

To curb the thirst of all psychological thriller fans, here’s the meaning of the ending explained by the makers of the movie itself. 

The conclusion of American Psycho does not mean that everything happened entirely in Patrick Bateman’s mind, as stated by director Mary Harron. According to her and co-writer Guinevere Turner, the uncertain nature of the climax proves Bateman’s status as a serial killer. Harron voiced her disapproval of the idea that the conclusion follows the tired “it was all a dream” stereotype. Instead, she wanted the ending to be vague and interesting, giving people a more complex understanding of Bateman’s sad reality.

The truth is that American Psycho’s creators, Mary Harron and Guinevere Turner, agree that the film’s climax actually took in reality. Despite his horrible actions, Patrick Bateman, as portrayed by Christian Bale, won’t be prosecuted because of his money and good social standing. In a Charlie Rose interview, Harron made it clear that she did not intend to mislead viewers into thinking that Bateman was never a murderer but acted so on purpose to pay credit to the original book’s finale. Since some viewers misinterpreted the ending scene as a dream sequence, which wasn’t her aim, Harron openly acknowledged that she misled the audience. 

It’s necessary to remember that the killings are actually happening even though Patrick is experiencing hallucinations and delusions. The co-writer, Guinevere Turner, explains that the comparison between Bateman’s dream world and the terrible reality of his violent deeds causes the finale to be so confusing. The challenge rests in going through the cloudy boundaries that separate these two worlds, which adds to the illogical conclusion. 

But Did Patrick Kill Paula?

Both Harron and Ellis have emphasized that the plot of American Psycho takes advantage of the question of whether Patrick killed Paul Allen. The conclusion suggests that Patrick may have murdered a coworker in Wall Street’s ruthless and influential world without anybody noticing or caring. The depth of terrible crimes is hidden in this world by visible signs making it impossible for Bateman or even the audience to determine the truth. 

The movie emphasizes topics of wealth and identity by implying that when Paul mistakes Patrick for Marcus Halberstram, the intention to assassinate him becomes clear. In conclusion, the American Psycho epilogue emphasizes how Patrick’s friends and peers often entirely disregard human life.

Bateman’s Head Vs. Reality

Bateman’s Head Vs. Reality

One popular theory, which gained money after the movie’s premiere, claims that the majority of American Psycho’s events took place entirely in Bateman’s chaotic head. Given his apparent unstable mental state, it is fair to think that he imagined the events. The lack of proof—such as the silence surrounding the alleged bodies that Bateman left behind and the perfect condition of Paul Allen’s apartment—combined with the unsettling pictures in Bateman’s book to support this theory.    

Using his artwork to express his weird imagination, this idea suggests that Bateman never actually committed any murders. Supporters of this theory also highlight a scenario in which Bateman shoots a police cruiser; the vehicle then unexpectedly explodes, confusing Bateman. When cars are shot, they don’t always explode in a massive way, which makes Bateman doubt his own experiences and emphasizes how movie clichés have shaped his view. 

In reality, Bateman actually carried out the killings. They weren’t just figments of his imagination; they really did happen. Now, you might be curious about Paul Allen’s residence. Here is the frightening explanation, though: There were dead bodies left in that flat by Bateman. The building’s owner, however, decided to cover it up due to the high value of New York real estate, disposing of the bodies and trying to rent out the apartment without anyone being aware of the horrifying truth. 

Bottom Line

To summarise, the ending leaves us all wanting the truth and wondering what happens. Even though it’s horrifying to see the scenes unfold but eventually, you’ll be confused to see Bateman continuing his everyday life; nothing happened. We do recommend watching the movie to understand the psychological thriller better. It indeed is baffling but mind-boggling at the same time!

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Abdul Wahab is a Software Engineer by profession and a Tech geek by nature. Having been associated with the tech industry for the last five years, he has covered a wide range of Tech topics and produced well-researched and engaging content. You will mostly find him reviewing tech products and writing blog posts. Binge-watching tech reviews and endlessly reading tech blogs are his favorite hobbies.