Netflix’s Noise Ending Explained: Michelle, the Factory and What’s Wrong With Matthias
Belgian thriller Noise is a twisty-turny mystery. Here's what went down and what it all means.
In Netflix Belgian thriller Noise Mattias (Ward Kerremans), a social influencer with a baby son, uncovers secrets from the past when he and his wife, Liv (Sallie Harmsen), move back to his childhood home. It’s twisty and tinged with horror, but it also requires attention to follow what’s going on, and indeed, what’s real and what is not.
Co-written and directed by Steffen Geypens, it’s a small-town chiller that’s high on atmosphere, in particular (as you might expect) the audio elements as the increasingly unsettled Mattias dives down a rabbit hole of his family history, while becoming more and more disconnected from his child.
But what happened and why? We break it down.
Why have Liv, Mattias and Julius moved house?
Mattias’ father Pol (Johan Leysen) has dementia and is now in a nearby care facility. It’s close enough to the house where he used to live for him to wander back, which he frequently does (it’s not a very secure facility). Matthias is a social media influencer, initially posting videos painting him as a perfect devoted father, but later posting frantic conspiracies theories about the factory where his father worked, while growing colder towards Julius. Liv runs a catering business which she’s trying to establish in the small town – she’s not having much luck charming the local business owners because of Pol’s reputation.
At first the house seems idyllic but as Mattias sinks deeper into his father’s history and his own the house grows menacing.
The house itself is of significance. Pol and Mattias’ mother, Michelle (Lize Feryn) were happy in the house until their baby (Mattias) was born. Pol says he built her a pond (more like a lake in this case) as she constantly asked for one. After her death, though, Pol and Mattias were stuck in the house alone which, according to the town’s people, didn’t do them any good at all. The factory’s tunnels also appear to lead right into the house, linking Pol, the factory, the pond and the tragedies that defined his life. In moving back there Mattias is drawn into those tragedies too.
What happened to Mattias’ mother, Michelle?
She drowned. This we see in the opening scenes of the film. What we don’t learn till later is that she was trying to drown both herself and her baby. Michelle was suffering with post-partum psychosis, which made her extremely depressed and paranoid but Pol had insisted that she was ok. When she walks out to the pond to end her life and that of the baby, Pol chased after them both, saved Mattias but was unable to save Michelle.
What’s wrong with Mattias?
Mattias becomes intolerant to noise, obsessed with putrefaction, paranoid, volatile and experiences hallucinations. It is the house? Is it the stress of his and his fathers’ past? Or could it be hereditary?
Michelle’s condition is listed as being hereditary but was triggered by having Mattias. Is it possible that what Mattias is currently experiencing is his own version of post-partum psychosis? It’s a disorder mostly found in women but post-partum psychosis in males is not unheard of. Certainly Mattias is displaying similar symptoms to the ones his mother was described as having.
Then there’s the life-long trauma of the implicit blame his father places on him for the death of Michelle, and the fact that he was a cold and difficult parent who Mattias was never able to please, he rather had the odds stacked against him.
What happened at the factory?
It’s not entirely clear, since Pol has dementia, Mattias has some sort of psychosis and the newspaper reports are unclear (and we can’t pause and read the full articles because they’re in Dutch). Also, Mattias and Pol would claim that the true story was suppress in the papers anyway.
What we know is that Pol was the CEO of a chemical plant that initially the town welcomed because it created jobs. The factory began working with some experimental materials and there was a flood, with the waste water affecting the neighboring villages and posing health risks including difficulty breathing and eye irritation. This revelation, along with the vision of the dead rotting animal he finds when he visits the factory, causes Mattias to become preoccupied with rot. He refuses to eat the fish Liv has made for him, the dessert she leaves for him in the fridge is shot in such a way as to make it appear gory and gross (rather than fruity and delicious!). Then there’s the deeply unsettling (but indelible) image of the eye of a toy fish on Julius’ mobile dissolving and running as if putrefied.
The accident at the factory resulted in the deaths of five workers whose families sued the plant for damages. But Mattias is convinced that the death toll was 15 and that the rest of the bodies are still down there in the labyrinthine tunnels under the factory – tunnels, we are told, that most workers could not navigate without a map. Tunnels that Mattias believes run right up to the house.
There are certainly maps that make the underground network appear larger than the surface level of the factory. And Mattias appears to find a corpse during one of his explorations. But Mattias is not a reliable source – he also saw a corpse standing in the car wash and we’re pretty sure that never happened.
What happened to Timme?
Timme (Jesse Mensah0 is Liv’s brother. He’s a big support to Liv and Mattias, initially going to the factory with Mattias. Though Mattias’ mania leads him to reject Timme, Timme is a good dude. He sees Mattias’ deranged social media post where Mattias talks about vindicating his father. Timme goes to the tunnels under the factor, where he surprises Mattias (who may or may not have seen a corpse – we think ‘not’). Mattias hits Timme over the head. It’s not deliberate but instead of helping him he abandons him.
Before going to find Mattias ,Timme calls Liv and leaves a message for her. But when she calls back he is unconscious and the tunnel system is difficult to navigate (and Liv doesn’t even know he’s down there).
Fortunately though, it’s implied that Timme will be ok. At the end of the movie the local kids who we have seen playing in the factory have stumbled upon Timme. He’s not been there long and his injuries don’t look life threatening to us.
What happens at the end?
In the frantic conclusion to the movie, Mattias has left Timme in the tunnel and come back to the house. He goes down to the basement, which he believes is his way into the section of tunnels where the missing corpses are (we see floor pulsating in an earlier hallucination of Mattias’) and begins to dig his way in, creating a hole which is rapidly filling with water from a burst pipe. Mattias dives in, in the hope of finding the bodies.
But… Liv arrives home, find Julius abandoned and rushes down to the basement to see an increasing disturbed Mattias in his watery hole. She dives in to try to save him, but herself gets sucked in.
However, Pol arrives! Pol has had an episode with Liv, who is wearing a yellow dress very similar to one Michelle wore. Thinking she’s Michelle, Pol makes his confession and apology about what happened the day she died.
Mattias has been desperate to connect with his father, but his father has been unreachable, wishing he had saved his wife ahead of his child.
There’s redemption here, of a sort. Pol is able to use a walking stick to drag Liv out of the water and with her help they are able to save Mattias too. Pol has finally (symbolically) saved both his wife and his son.
At the end Liv, Mattias and Julius are seen outside gazing into the pond. A happy ending?
Pol might have found his redemption but Mattias almost lost his family it maybe too late to connect with Pol. Also he bashed his brother-in-law over the head and left him for dead – not sure how Liv’s going to feel about that.
Noise is available to stream on Netflix now.