Fever Dream Plot Synopsis
Fever Dream is a Spanish Netflix thriller, and boy is it one psychological trip! This slow burn thriller does test your patience but if you stick with it, the plot opens up in the best way to deliver a chilling final reveal.
The story follows a woman called Amanda, who narrates the film while hearing a young boy’s voice guiding her. This is David, whom we later come to find out is helping Amanda revisit her past to find the root cause for her inescapable fever. She’s also uncovering the events leading up to the opening scene of her being dragged through the forest too.
Flashing back, most of the story follows Amanda and her young daughter Nina as they arrive at a small village in Chile. Amanda stays in a rented house for the summer, where she meets neighbour Carola, carrying two buckets of water. Her son’s name is David, thus tying everything together. Now, water is used as a symbolic metaphor throughout the movie but we’ll circle back to this in a bit.
What’s going on with David?
Amanda first mentions the idea of a “rescue distance” while talking to Caroa in her car. Specifically, she watches as Nina plays by the pool and becomes invested in trying to save her in case she falls. This rescue distance here refers to an invisible thread that ties a mother to her children, measuring the distance between the two to keep your loved ones safe. Amanda constantly assesses the danger her daughter is in and makes sure she’s there to save her if need be.
For Carola, when David was born she ended up paranoid that he’d be deformed. She counted his toes numerous times and although everything was okay, tragedy struck later on.
Omar, her partner, used to be a racehorse breeder and back then he bred two mares to raise foals for their farm. Unfortunately the stallion soon died of poisoning, around the time that David developed a high fever. The stream was poisoned and infected both the horse and David.
What is the Green House?
With David’s fever spiking, Carola took David to see the village doctor. The crazed woman lives in a secluded house called Green House, which is known for its supernatural healing powers.
After examining David, she deduced that the only way to save the boy, given he’s poisoned, is to perform a “migration of souls.” Essentially, the doctor encourages Carola to move David’s spirit into a healthy body, which would extract the poison in the process. Half of David’s spirit would leave his body and in its wake, an unknown entity would enter. Basically David wouldn’t be himself anymore but Carola would still have her son, hence the deformation.
What poisoned David and the others in town?
Remember when we mentioned water being symbolic? Not only is water synonymous with emotion, it’s also a key ingredient to understanding what’s really going on here. Now, the devil is in the details and as we revisit key moments of the movie late on, all is revealed.
It turns out that the water we’ve been seeing is actually poisoned and contaminated, brought on from pesticides used in the fields nearby that have caused the death of humans and animals alike. This is also the root cause of the deformities seen in different people around town. As David tells Amanda during their narration “very few children are born normally in the village.”
What happens to Amanda?
With this knowledge at hand, the film’s final act shows Amanda visiting Carola at the pesticide company, where she works. While Amanda waits for her outside, a worker spills a massive container full of pesticides. Nina’s dress ends up soaked with this too, which Amanda writes this off as water (unaware of the pesticides at this point) before eventually walking through the wheat fields with Carola. Now, these wheat fields had just been sprayed with pesticides too, which she mistook as morning dew.
The result of Amanda’s poisoning sees her hospitalized but not before realizing, to her horror, that the popsicle she gave Nina earlier on was also infected and poisoned. Given how much water is mentioned and appears throughout the village -not to mention those buckets of water Carola brings them early in the movie- it’s fair to say that the entire town is completely poisoned.
Does Amanda survive?
Given the small village, there aren’t any proper medical facilities at hand and the doctor is hours away from making it there in time. Despite the nurse promising that they’ll be there soon, both Amanda and Nina are too far gone and will be dead by the time they arrive. But Carola has other ideas.
While Amanda suffers from her fever dream, we see visions of Carola taking Nina away without her consent. While Amanda loses consciousness in hospital, it’s clear that Carola has an ulterior motive.
What is Carola’s motive?
After David’s migration, we mentioned before that David lost half his soul in the process. Now, Carola decides to take Nina away, intending to use her to fill in the gaps missing within David’s body. In essence, she wants Nina’s soul inside her son.
It’s now revealed that David was the one dragging Amanda into the woods, intending to take her to the Green House to save her soul and, in the process, Nina too. Out of time, David bundles Amanda into the boat but in doing so she can feel her rescue distance expanding and the thread snapping – signifying Amanda passing away.
How does Fever Dream end?
A few days after Amanda’s death, her husband Marco shows up seeking answers. Marco admits that Nina is acting strangely after the incident and despite recovering, is still mentally distant.
While the two men discuss their kids, David rushes outside to Amanda’s car and sits inside, cradling Nina’s beloved soft toy. Omar rushes out and grabs David, pulling him out. However, the soft toy is still left inside on the backseat.
As Marco gets in the car and takes off, David watches and despairs. This single scene shows that the village doctor did manage to migrate the other half of Nina’s soul inside David, making him whole again. Or as whole as one can be with two warring halves of a soul!
The ending is more a tragedy than anything else, playing out as a cautionary tale about the effects of pesticides and the dangers they can have when left unregulated.
Read More: Fever Dream Review
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