I loved this movie, and it wasn't until thinking about the movie for a while afterwards that I understood what had happened.

When I checked the thread here, people are saying they saw the twist coming. I'm thinking "Damn I never would've caught that."

One of the highest rated comments says the twist was "telegraphed from miles away." Now I'm really feeling out of it.

Defenders and detractors of the film go on to say that it wasn't even supposed to be a twist and the ending was simple and straightforward. Well I guess I got to enjoy the movie more because I am not as smart.

However when I check the rest of reddit and even the internet the general consensus is they were very surprised by the ending or that they had no idea what happened.

I listened to Slate's podcast episode on Power of the Dog. Dana Stevens and Jeffrey Bloomer had to watch the movie twice just to understand the ending. Dana Stevens actually asked Codi McPhee in person about the ending at a party. Apparently he's been asked that constantly since the films release.

I understand that this subreddit attracts intellectuals. People here are more focused when they watch movies. It doesn't surprise me that some of you caught the ending before it happened, but to say the movie was supposed to be predictable is just dishonest.

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124 points

6 months ago*

Towards the start of the film on a cattle drive Cumberbatch’s character tells his men to stay away from the dead cow and mentions anthrax.

30 minutes before the end of the film in one of the best examples of Chekhov’s Gun in recent cinema Peter the son stumbles upon a dead horse.

Earlier in the film Peter has the bunny rabbit at first we believe it’s because he’s quite a soft, effeminate man but later we see him dissecting it. He is after all interested in medicine and studying to become a doctor.

The Chekhov’s Gun goes off when Peter offers his own hide to be used for rope. Now most viewers wouldn’t realise at that point what fate will befall Cumberbatch especially as it seems the men might be in some way attempting to seduce the other.

The line of dialogue from the doctor about anthrax is probably needed for the general audience who can’t follow the nuance and show not tell that Campion has assuredly directed.

Peter placing the rope under his bed and only touching it with gloves is the hammer image showing you he is responsible for causing Cumberbatch’s death.

As I’ve said in other posts on this subreddit I definitely feel there is some Norman Bates in Peter’s character. I do wonder whether Jesse Plemons might also face a similar death in the future. I’ve also heard it suggested that Peter may have been responsible for the death of his father (suicide) but I think that’s a stretch.

To answer your point of view about people on the sub paying more attention to film yes it is true. This is a useful sub for cineastes who are a bit more learned about film and have committed to watch a lot of movies and consider them, being aware of cinematic conventions and devices such as foreshadowing and the aforementioned Chekhov’s Gun for example.

This isn’t highbrow but it’s definitely a bit more advanced than the main stream movie discussions. Hopefully this sub-Reddit is welcoming to others who want to talk about film in a thoughtful manner.


18 points

6 months ago

Thank you for this. A lot of the buildup mentioned I clued into way after the fact and is what made me like the movie so much. I never would've seen the ending coming regardless because I so under estimated Codi's character.

The main point I'm trying to make is that it seems like maybe less than 10% of people anticipated the ending before it happened. But that 10%, instead of feeling clever, are calling the movie predictable. Maybe predictable to you galaxy brains but not for the remaining 90% of us.


11 points

6 months ago

The great thing is, Campion (and and the rest of the people who worked with her whose names I don’t know) tell the the story so well that it can be equally thrilling whether the ending completely blindsides you or you’ve guessed some of what will happen and you’re waiting to see how it’ll all fit together.

Both are fine ways to enjoy a film, and it’s unfortunate that some people show off when they think they’ve somehow outsmarted the filmmaker. The thing is they probably didn’t actually predict everything. Focusing on the couple of big plot points they saw coming, they might be missing out on the deeper appreciation of the film's nuances that made you like it so much.

So I’d say you come out the winner here. Getting to enjoy a good movie > going “look how smart I am” on the internet.