The Witch: Subversion (2018) Ending Explained – Who was the actual predator?

The Witch: Part 1 The Subversion Plot Synopsis

The Witch: Part 1 The Subversion originally titled ‘Manyeo’ is a psycho-horror-thriller action movie from South Korea.

Dr. Baek played by veteran actress Jo Min-soo, is in charge of the experimental laboratory in The Witch: Part 1. The Subversion. She orders her aide, Mr. Choi (Park Hee-soon) to organize a manhunt for their missing ward and soon sniffer dogs are on the trail of the little child, but she flees through a dark, dense forest, and manages to elude her captors.

Hours later in the slight hint of dawn, the little girl is discovered unconscious on a farm by a kind farmer and ex-architect, Mr. Koo (Choi Jung-woo) and he and his wife adopt the girl. Flash forward to a decade later – the girl, Koo Ja-yoon played by Kim Da-mi is now a wide-eyed, bumbling, innocent, ultra-sweet teenager with no memory of her horrific past and is the epitome of a dutiful daughter. 

But there are troubles that beset them like money problems and illness. The Koo family is trying hard to battle the financial crisis that is at their doorstep. And to compound their woes, Ja-yoon’s foster mother has started exhibiting signs of dementia.  Ja-yoon too suffers from periodic bouts of serious migraine which start to get worse as time passes.

What is the repercussion of the talent contest?

To fix their financial woes, Ja-yoon competes in a televised talent contest. On watching his daughter on live TV, Mr. Koo realizes to his consternation, that Ja-yoon is demonstrating her telekinetic abilities. He always suspected that she was not an ordinary person. And he sort of knew deep within, that there were people looking for her.

And his deepest fears are realized when Ja-yoon was first accosted by a stranger, Nobleman played by Choi Woo-shik on her train journey to Seoul for the contest. She then gets found out by Dr. Baek, thanks to her television appearance, and Ja-yoon narrowly misses getting abducted by Mr. Choi’s henchmen. But they discover Koo’s farmhouse and Ja-yoon is finally brought in front of her creator, Dr. Baek.

What was so special about Ja-yoon?

Ja-yoon, as a child was part of a group of children, whose childhood had been taken away and subjected to brain experimentations and genetic modifications in a secret lab run by Dr. Baek, a top-class brain specialist, for a secret government consortium in order to produce super-soldiers.

Ja-yoon’s batch was the second generation in beta testing, superior to the first generation batch, like Mr. Choi’s. These kids were transplanted physically perfect genes, their brains were genetically re-engineered, their physicality heightened and nurtured with violence. And amongst them, Ja-yoon was special. She stood out even from the other kids in her batch. According to Dr. Baek – she was the ‘closest to perfection’. And the doctor was understandably proud of her creation.

Why did Baek want to kill Ja-yoon?

As Dr. Baek’s experimentation became a great success, HQ started having second thoughts on the wisdom of giving these kids superpowers. They realized that these super-creatures would eventually be impossible to control. And ultimately, orders were issued from the top, to decommission them all. In other words, all these kids were slated for execution including the scientists and the geneticists who were part of the programme.

However, Dr. Baek couldn’t pull the trigger on her life’s work. She underestimated the sweet kid that was Ja-yoon and the latter found her chance and escaped. On the other hand, Mr. Choi and his henchman have their own personal reasons to kill her — because little Ja-yoon had fought for her survival, almost killing them. The men survived but were permanently scarred.

What is Ja-yoon’s weakness?

Ja-yoon and her ilk were near invincible, apex predators, with ultra-superior brain capacity and a propensity for violence. The only way one could bring down these monsters was a bullet to the head. But Dr. Baek had another trick up her sleeve. Ja-yoon’s periodic bouts of migraine were actually a countdown to a brain seizure which when left untreated would cause her death. It was a congenital defect purposely embedded in her system.

And the only way to survive a painful death was to be injected with a special drug, whose effects would last for only a month. This was Dr. Baek’s way of retaining control over her super soldiers. At one point in time, Dr. Baek in a gloating tone tells Ja-yoon that the only permanent solution is a bone marrow transplant from her biological parents which she believes is a near-impossible scenario.

In fact, when Ja-yoon escaped the government laboratory as a kid, Dr. Baek wasn’t too worried because she had estimated that Ja-yoon wouldn’t last very long, away from the lab without her monthly shot. However, Ja-yoon had understood her symptoms growing up and kept her body functions at their lowest limit, to the extent that her friends thought that she was quite a weakling.

How is Ja-yoon the invincible caught and taken to the lab?

Mr. Choi’s goons reach Ja-yoon’s home and hold her friend, Myung-hee at knifepoint. The gang leader tries to prod her memory and calls her a little witch. Ja-yoon expresses shock and astonishment, protesting vociferously that they’ve got the wrong person. The goons don’t believe her and threaten to kill Myung-hee.

And suddenly, in a flash, Ja-yoon is transformed into the perfect killing machine; and within minutes, the place is littered with the dead bodies of Choi’s men. But then Nobleman and his cohorts, (who also happen to be the second generation batch, who’ve ‘been made’ in America), appear on the scene and threaten to kill Ja-yoon’s parents if she doesn’t come with them.

Ja-yoon realizes that this group is tougher than the earlier group she’d just eliminated. In fact, they have the same powers as her, so she decides to comply, and accompany them to the secret laboratory where Dr. Baek is waiting for them.

Who was the actual predator?

Ja-yoon is taken as a captive to the laboratory and strapped securely, where Dr. Baek gloats over her success in finally tracing her and bringing her back. She proceeds to prod her memory to recollect her past. And at one point, towards the end of her exposition, she orders her lackey to inject Ja-yoon with the drug. As soon as Ja-yoon receives her injection, her entire demeanour changes. Gone is the wide-eyed sweet little girl now replaced with a ferocious predator.

And the twist in the plot is that she had never lost her memory. In fact all this while, she was searching for Dr. Baek. And the antagonists realize that she had actually baited them. They didn’t find her, she found them. From day one, Ja-yoon had been searching for a solution to her migraine problem. And she deliberately went on live TV, knowing fully well, that they’d come for her.

For Ja-yoon to break through her confines, escape from her captivity, and reach the now-terrified Dr. Baek is child’s play. By then Nobleman and his cohorts go for her, followed by the entry of Mr. Choi and his gunmen who attack Nobleman’s gang while Nobleman goes for Ja-yoon. What follows is mayhem and massacre with bodies falling by the dozen.

In a surprising twist, Mr. Choi shoots Dr. Baek both out of spite and to prevent Ja-yoon from getting hold of the medication. Of course, Ja-yoon, the apex predator actually toys with her attackers before snapping them like twigs. She plays around with Nobleman who is shown earlier as a fearsome killer, before dispatching him to his maker.

What is Ja-yoon searching for in the end?

After the climactic battle, Ja-yoon burns down the place and reaches the hospital, where her father is tending to her bedridden mother who is fast asleep. She gives the case containing Dr. Baek’s eight vials to the mother so that it would alleviate her dementia. She does retain two of the vials for herself, in the hope that she’ll get to the solution to her ailment within the given time period. 

Three months later, Ja-yoon manages to trace the whereabouts of Dr. Baek’s twin sister who is wheelchair-bound. The kindly-looking, silver-haired lady, a spitting image of the evil Dr. Baek suddenly finds a sweet, wide-eyed girl sitting in her presence in spite of the security outside. And somehow, she knows very well that this sweet, innocent exterior belies a ferocious killer, who’s come looking for a permanent cure.

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2 thoughts on “The Witch: Subversion (2018) Ending Explained – Who was the actual predator?”

  1. @Joe Hi, my bad. There is no conclusive explanation for the scar-faced girl. She is most likely another failed experiment. If you remember, in the lab flashbacks when we see several other kids, they all have similar scars and injuries. The girl was possibly saved by the twin doctor during the melee or was given to her by Dr. Baek as an assistant/bodyguard.

    However, she is most definitely not the mother (which was an old fan theory) as the mother is shown in Part 2 and is played by another actress.

  2. The only thing you didn’t cover was who the scar-faced girl was that Ja-Yoon threatened to kill just before the screen went black.

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