The Devil’s Bath (2024) Ending Explained – Was Agnes at peace with her fate?

Plot Summary

This latest film from Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz, the directors of Goodnight Mommy and The Lodge, is a dark tale set in 18th Century Austria about a young woman named Agnes whose mental health spirals after she enters into a difficult marriage with a man named Wolf. 

At the end of the film, Agnes commits a terrible act and pays the price for her crime. 

In this ending explained article for The Devil’s Bath, we briefly recap the story and ask the question: Was Agnes at peace with her fate?

How does the film begin?

The film begins with a baby crying. The mother picks the child up, but instead of soothing the wailing tot, she throws the baby over the edge of a waterfall instead. 

After the woman confesses to the murder (off camera), she is beheaded. Her head is then put in a cage as a reminder to the community that murder is a sin. But as we discover later in the film, there is another sin that the local villagers consider worse – a sin that, in their archaic belief system, leads to eternal damnation. 

Why does Agnes become depressed?

After the film’s harrowing opening, we are introduced to a woman named Agnes on her wedding day. She marries a man called Wolf – a moment that is celebrated by the people of the village. 

Agnes and Wolf have a good day but sadly, the days that follow are not so happy. 

On their first night together, Wolf isn’t able to consummate their marriage. The reason why he isn’t able to have sex with Agnes is never explained, but it’s possible that he’s homosexual. We think this for two reasons:

a) Wolf doesn’t seem able to get an erection when in bed with Agnes

b) His friend Lenz dies by suicide and it’s hinted (though not explicitly stated) that they might have been in a relationship.

Anyway, we digress.

Wolf’s inability to make love to Agnes is worrying for her as she desperately wants to have a child. When she realizes this will never happen, she starts to become depressed. Her mental state worsens when she hears Wolf’s mother blaming her for not becoming pregnant. She’s our “cross to bear” the old woman says to her son. 

Does Agnes get help for her depression?

Life in 18th-century Austria wasn’t like it is today. There was no medication to stifle depressed feelings and no counsellor to speak to. In some countries, people were locked up in asylums and treated to barbaric medical practices that were supposed to be cures. That was then and this is now – so if you need help, please reach out to somebody in your area. 

Agnes isn’t thrown into an asylum in The Devil’s Bath, but a doctor does try to cure her depression by creating a wound in the back of her next that is supposed to drain away her melancholia. Unsurprisingly, this doesn’t work.

With nobody to turn to but her brother, who turns out to be less than helpful, Agnes is forced to deal with her depression alone. 

What is Agnes’s solution to her depression?

Agnes becomes suicidal but despite taking small quantities of rat poison, which may be a means of self-harm rather than suicide, she decides not to kill herself. 

Her decision not to kill herself isn’t because she has hope that life might get better. Rather, it’s because she thinks God won’t accept her into Heaven if she commits suicide. This was the opinion of early Christians at the time, as evidenced in the film by the priest’s sermon following Lenz’s death. According to him, suicide is worse than murder and unforgivable in the eyes of God. Consequently, the bodies of suicide victims weren’t allowed to be given a Christian burial – they were left to rot on empty fields instead. 

After hearing the priest and seeing Lenz’s discarded body, Agnes is afraid to kill herself because of her fear of eternal damnation. Instead, she does what the woman at the beginning of the film did – she kills a child. 

Such an act wasn’t uncommon in Europe at the time. Those who wanted to kill themselves would commit murder instead as this meant they could still be forgiven at a confessional before being executed. The term given to this act was ‘suicide by proxy.’

Agnes kills a boy and then confesses her sin to a priest. When he absolves her of her sin, she is overjoyed, as she believes she will now be allowed entry into Heaven. 

What happens to Agnes?

Agnes suffers the same fate as the woman at the film’s beginning – she is executed by decapitation. Before her death, she sings a song while kneeling with a sack over her head. The song is a calming and almost joyful one, indicating that Agnes is at peace with her fate. As she doesn’t want to live any more, this is the only way to escape her misery.

The crowd watch the execution with horror. Wolf is particularly distraught. But after Agnes is killed, the mood in the crowd changes as they turn from being sombre to joyful and start a celebration.

This final scene is a little odd, especially as the people fill their cups with Agnes’s blood. But as surprising as their jubilation is, it’s likely due to their religious superstitions which perhaps included blood offerings as a form of blessing. This is just speculation but please let us know if you can shed light on this unusual practice. 


Read More: The Devil’s Bath Movie Review 

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