Arcadian's somber yet hopeful ending, explained

The situation by the end of Arcadian could not be more dire as the monsters launch a devastating attack.
ARCADIAN - Still 8 - Courtesy RLJE Films
ARCADIAN - Still 8 - Courtesy RLJE Films /

Nicolas Cage stars in the post-apocalyptic horror film Arcadian from director Ben Brewer. The film also stars Jaeden Martell and Maxwell Jenkins. Cage plays the father of two boys as the trio does whatever they can to survive in a world overrun by terrifying creatures.

Paul gets gravely injured while trying to protect his sons, leaving them to fend for themselves while simultaneously trying to keep their dad alive as the movie slowly builds to an exciting and violent confrontation between hordes of these monstrous enemies and the last remaining survivors. Spoilers ahead for the end of Arcadian.

Paul sacrifices himself for his sons

After fighting tooth and nail to keep his two boys alive, Paul ultimately makes a heroic sacrifice toward the end of the movie so that Joseph, Thomas, and Charlotte have a chance at escaping.

Once the creatures dig beneath the house and come up through the floor, Joseph concocts a plan to blow up the entire house. He intends to fit his family inside a spacious old freezer to survive the blast, hoping it kills all nearby creatures, allowing for their escape.

Instead of climbing inside the freezer with them (honestly, I don't think all four of them would have fit anyway), Paul remains outside the door to make his last stand against the monsters and ensure they don't rip open the freezer before the house goes up in flames.

ARCADIAN - Still 12
ARCADIAN - Still 12 - Courtesy RLJE Films /

Thomas, Joseph, and Charlotte search for survivors

With the house destroyed along with the Rose farm overrun with creatures, the three teenage survivors leave the wreckage in Joseph's vehicle, intending to search for other nearby farms and survivors.

Arcadian ends with all the adults dead, including Charlotte's parents and everyone else from the Rose farm. The three teens are the only characters who make it out alive.

Why did the creatures wait so long to attack?

The movie doesn't fully explain why the creatures waited so long to dig into the house. Joseph studies the monsters throughout the film, trying to decipher their intentions and why they do things like knock a specific amount of times for different durations.

It's not spelled out for the audience, but the implication seems to be that the creatures were always planning to break through the house from underneath the foundation. They only knocked on the door and messed with the barricades to draw attention away from what they were doing under the house all along.

Not realizing what they were doing, Paul, Thomas, and Joseph spent all their time fortifying the walls and windows, leaving the ground floor completely exposed.

Arcadian is currently available to rent or buy on demand through digital retailers like Amazon and Apple. It will be released on Shudder/AMC+ later this year.

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