Hot Fuzz (2007) Ending Explained – What is wrong with the model village Sandford?

[Trigger warning: suicide mention]

Hot Fuzz Plot Summary

Hot Fuzz is a 2007 British comedy crime thriller, directed by Edgar Wright and written by Wright and Simon Pegg, who also plays the main lead, Nicholas. The movie is the second part of the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy – the Blue Version, after the cult film, Shaun of the Dead.

Hot Fuzz is a parody or homage, whichever way one interprets it, to the gun-slinging American Western genre. It is a typical story of a good cop who finally triumphs over the bad guys in a small shire.

What’s with the title ‘Hot Fuzz’?

‘Fuzz’ is the British slang for ‘Policeman’, with Simon Pegg portraying Nicholas Angel, the Hot Fuzz aka the hyperactive, academic-topper, super-efficient cop from the London Metropolitan Service. A morally upright police officer, he is actually more of a tight-ass, whose girlfriend dumps him because his first and only priority is the police force. He takes conscientiousness and political correctness to a totally different level.

Why is Nicholas transferred?

Nicholas is called by his superiors and informed that he’s been promoted to Sergeant in Sandford, Gloucestershire, a small village. Sandford has received the Model Village of the Year Award. It’s a dream posting for any normal police officer. But Nicholas is not a normal person. He’s obsessed with fighting crime and believes that he is needed in the metropolis more than in a model village.

He just wants to do his job. But that’s the problem… he does his job too well. He is informed by his superiors (cameos by Martin Freeman, Steve Coogan and Bill Nighy) that his arrest record is 400% higher than any other officer, which is making the rest of the force look bad.

Though his efforts are well-intentioned, he needs to be a team player, and not work so exceptionally well. Needless to say, the rest of the police force is only too glad to bid him farewell.

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What is the culture shock that Nicholas gets in Sandford?

Nicholas reaches ‘God’s own Country’ in the late hours, amidst the pouring rain. He receives a culture shock when he realizes that underage drinking at the pub is tolerated, even encouraged, and the reasoning is, that if these kids are in here, it stops them from getting into trouble out there. It’s all for the ‘greater good’.

Next, Nicholas arrests a highly inebriated driver, who nearly runs him over. Turns out it is his colleague, Police Constable Danny Butterman (played by Nick Frost), who happens to be the son of the police chief. And to Nicholas’ disquiet, he learns that the Chief has a rather unorthodox way of doling out punishment.

Danny bought everyone chocolate cake as punishment for misplacing his helmet last week, and for his current indiscretion, he’ll have to buy them all a month’s supply of desserts. And except for Danny, the rest of the constabulary are almost hostile to Nicholas, this new cop from the big city.

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Why is Sandford a model village?

According to the Chief, Sandford is statistically, the safest village in the country. It is monitored by the NWC – The Neighbourhood Watch Alliance, comprising the local gentry. They keep a close watch on the happenings in their village and ensure that Sandford lives up to its reputation. Well, they would rather prefer that the village stay frozen in time.

The rules are strict. Discipline is strictly maintained. Loiterers and clowns are frowned upon. Graffiti is a strict no-no. In fact, the NWC is singularly obsessed with retaining the Model Village Award at any cost. But the village is more concerned about a runaway swan and old Arthur Webley clipping the neighbour’s hedgerows than in solving real crimes.

Why is Nicholas suspicious of the accidental deaths?

Soon after Sergeant Nicholas Angel joins the Sandford Constabulary, a series of accidental deaths start to occur. Martin Blower, a respected solicitor and an amateur theatre actor, and his leading lady actress, Eve Draper are found dead in a car crash. Unlike the rest of the police force, Nicholas concludes that things are not as obvious as it looks. But he is the only one who suspects foul play.

George Merchant, millionaire and property developer has a drop too much at the Crown, the local pub and is escorted home to his fancy villa by Nicholas and Danny. The next morning, George is found charred to death and his house burned to the ground, in what appears to be an unfortunate kitchen accident. Nicholas, as usual, is suspicious.

Tim Messenger, editor and journalist at The Sandford Citizen, the local newspaper approaches Nicholas surreptitiously at a church fête and says that he wants to share some secret info about the late George Merchant – but at the churchyard, 3pm. When Nicholas arrives, a loose piece of a battlement from atop the church walls falls on Tim and he dies. Nicholas is now sure that it’s murder and all these are somehow linked.

Leslie Tiller, the local florist and horticulturist is chatting with Nicholas when he goes to buy Japanese Peace Lily as a birthday gift for Danny. He realizes that she’s giving him vital clues and to retrieve his notebook from his car to jot down her statement. But when he turns to enter, he is horrified to witness a cloaked figure kill Leslie with her garden scissors. He gives chase, but the murderer escapes.

What’s Nicholas’ theory about the murders?

Nicholas is shocked to see that none of his fellow cops believe in the murders. The Chief tells him that his boys aren’t used to the ‘M’ word. There hasn’t been a recorded murder in Sandford for 20 years. But looks like Nicholas knows just who’s behind these murders.

According to his research, George Merchant (Developer) was the client of Martin Blower (Solicitor). And Martin was having an affair with Eve Draper, who worked at the Council, in the Department of Planning and Development. So, Martin knew beforehand the proposed route for the new Sandford bypass. And he’d approached Leslie Tiller (the Florist) on behalf of George to buy her property.

However, after George’s death, Tim Messenger (Journalist) informed Leslie that her property was ten times more valuable. So, she decided to sell it on her own and was promptly murdered. Nicholas believes that the culprit behind all these murders is Simon Skinner (Timothy Dalton), owner of the local supermarket, who viewed George Merchant as his rival. 

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What is the real reason behind the murders?

Contrary to Nicholas’ theory, the five murders are committed for the most frivolous reasons. Martin Blower is killed simply because he is a terrible actor. The NWA cannot possibly allow Martin to ruin the reputation of the Sandford Dramatic Society. Eve Draper’s sin is that she has an annoying laugh. George Merchant’s crime is his lack of taste. The NWA cannot tolerate his fancy mansion which is not in sync with the village’s rustic aesthetic.

Tim Messenger, editor of the Sandford Citizen, according to the NWA, reduced the standards of their once-great newspaper to tabloid journalism. Plus, his papers are filled with typos and spelling errors, so he had to go too. Leslie Tiller, a horticulture expert had helped put Sandford on the map. But when she decides to move away, the NWA is horrified. They cannot allow her to share her green fingers with anybody else.

What went wrong with Sandford?

The story goes that a few years back, the late Mrs. Irene Butterman, Frank’s wife and Danny’s mother is the head of the Sandford Village committee. She loves the village deeply and devotes all her energy to her beloved Sandford to win the Village of the Year Award. However, some Gypsy folks move into the village, mess up the place and make it lose its title. Irene is so distraught that she commits suicide.

Since then, the Police Chief, Frank Butterman and the rest of the NWA have sworn to make Sandford a Model Village. It is to become squeaky clean, frozen in time.

All the Gypsy folks are murdered and their bodies are thrown in the castle basement. The NWA create their own rules — underage drinking in the local bar is allowed, but anyone who breaks the ‘rules’ is similarly dispatched. Jugglers, clowns, loiterers, graffiti creators, any perpetrators of minor crimes, and anyone who creates the slightest infraction are all made to disappear. Even Arthur Webley, who clipped his neighbour’s hedges.

The NWA believes that Sandford is indeed the best village, a happy, contended dream world. In fact, Sergeant Popwell, Nicholas’ predecessor, couldn’t see the bigger picture. And so he too had to disappear.

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How does it end for Sandford?

Danny saves Nicholas from the murderous NWA and helps him get out of the Shire. Nicholas tries to convince him to help him take down the NWA. But Danny is torn between his loyalty to his father and to his friend, Nicholas. Nicholas leaves, but then midway he has a change of heart and returns. He is determined to face the murderous thugs of the NWA.

Next is a scene straight out of the Western movies, with the hero entering the town square astride a horse bristling with weapons, well the ones Nicholas seized earlier from the late Arthur Webley.

A series of shootouts occur. Danny joins forces with him and they soon start taking down the NWA one by one, in a spoofy sort of way. And the local police force, who were all along hostile to Nicholas, too team up with him to take down the bad guys. Interestingly, though incapacitated or injured, none of the bad guys are killed. The dystopian establishment is torn down and the rule of law is re-established.

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