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Primal Fear Ending Explained

primal fear ending

Primal Fear is a 1996 American Legal thriller movie. The movie is based on William Diehl’s 1993 novel of the same name. It received positive reviews, directed by Gregory Hoblit and written by Steve Shagan. Hailed as a movie significantly ahead of its time because of its ending, the film was hugely successful. The movie launched Edward Norton, who was praised for his swooping performance in the film.

Edward Norton was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and a BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. He also won the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture. This was a considerable achievement for someone just starting their career. The movie follows Martin Vail, a Chicago defense attorney who takes a pro bono case on his instinct. The film creates enough tension with the mystery and the courtroom drama. Until the final twist, which we will talk about in this article.

Primal Fear Ending Explained

Synopsis of the movie

Martin Vail takes a pro bono case for altar boy Aaron, charged with murder. With a meek personality and a severe stutter, Vail assumes Aaron to be innocent and falsely accused. In one of the latter instances, Aaron transforms into a violent Roy. Aaron is later diagnosed with a dissociative identity disorder. While being Roy, he attacks Vail and does not even Stutter. He even confesses to the murder of the archbishop and Linda. Vail still assumes that it is his Roy personality speaking. Till the very end of the movie, Vail believes that Aaron is innocent.

Also Read: The Woman In The Window Ending Explained

The Cast of Primal Fear

Primal fear is a movie filled with extraordinary performances by a star cast. The entire cast list is below:

  • Richard Gere as Martin Vail
  • Edward Norton as Aaron / Roy
  • Laura Linney as Janet Venable
  • John Mahoney as Shaughnessy
  • Alfre Woodard as Shoa
  • Frances McDormand as Molly
  • Terry O’Quinn as Yancy
  • Andre Braugher as Goodman
  • Steven Bauer as Pinero
  • Joe Spano as Stenne

Primal Fear Ending Explained

The movie has one of the most shocking endings of all time. After attacking in the court while being Roy, Vail wins the case. It is asserted that Aaron is sick and mentally unstable and receives a verdict of not guilty. In one of the one twisty endings, Aaron slips up and asks about Molly. This makes Vail realize that Aaron is pretending not to remember anything and confronts him.

Aaron finally admits that he has been faking the disease from the start. There exists no Roy, and he has been pretending from the start. He did murder the Archbishop and Linda both and is not mentally unstable. One would assume Vail to go back and fight for the case, but the movie ends here. With Vail walking dejectedly despite winning the case.

The movie became one of the most talked-about movies ever because of its anti-Hollywood ending, where the killer wins. Unlike the scenario where the good guy always wins, Vail somehow lost despite winning.

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