Movie Reviews

The Strangers: Chapter 1 Ending Explained

The following contains spoilers for The Strangers: Chapter 1, now playing in theaters


  • Maya survives brutal attacks in
    The Strangers: Chapter 1
    but remains in danger, set to be the protagonist in upcoming sequels.
  • Ryan’s fate is uncertain in
    The Strangers: Chapter 1
    ‘s ending, leaving doubt about his survival prospects.
  • The killers have no clear motivation, embodying fear of the unknown in a random act of violence.

The Strangers: Chapter 1 is a brutal game of cat-and-mouse, with the film’s ending underscoring the haunting themes of the series as a whole. Serving as a three-part reimagining of 2008’s The Strangers, the first entry in the new trilogy focuses on the long-term romantic couple Maya and Ryan. While trying to move to Portland, the pair end up briefly stranded in a small town and elect to rent an AirBnB. However, this also places them in the path of three killers, with The Strangers: Chapter 1‘s story following the killers stalking them.

While the trilogy has been teased as a potential explanation of The Strangers killers and their motivations, The Strangers: Chapter 1 is largely a tense thriller focused on setting the tone for the films. This builds to the film’s unceremoniously brutal ending. The ending of the film confirms the movie’s thematic connection to the original, all while setting up one of the survivors to carry the series going forward.


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Maya’s Fate In The Strangers: Chapter 1 Ending

Maya Is Played By Riverdale‘s Madelaine Petsch

Maya, the Man in the Mask, and Doll Face from The Strangers Chapter 1

The Strangers: Chapter 1 has some particularly brutal turns, but it also sets up Maya as the protagonist of the for the rest of the new The Strangers trilogy. Maya is one of the two primary characters of The Strangers: Chapter 1, an architect in the middle of a cross-country trip alongside her longtime boyfriend Ryan. As with other protagonists in The Strangers franchise, Maya has the bad luck of encountering the three masked killers and, despite her best efforts, isn’t able to escape them by the end of the film.

However, despite being beaten, stabbed, and left for dead, the final moments of The Strangers: Chapter 1 reveal Maya survived her ordeal. Although she’s been severely injured, the post-credits sequence for the film features Maya waking up in her hospital room. This means Maya will likely be the protagonist of the upcoming The Strangers: Chapter 2 and potentially The Strangers: Chapter 3. Director Renny Harlin told Entertainment Weekly that the films will explore what happens to survivors of violent trauma, implying Maya will continue to be central focus for all three films.

Is Ryan Dead After The Strangers: Chapter 1’s Ending?

Ryan Is Played By Teen Wolf‘s Froy Gutierrez

A still of Maya and Ryan in The Strangers Chapter 1

Although Maya survives the events of The Strangers: Chapter 1, things are less clear for her boyfriend Ryan. Initially more suspicious of the small town of Venus than Maya, Ryan is ultimately stabbed and left for dead alongside his girlfriend. While his fate is left somewhat ambiguous, his prospects for survival seem dimmer than they were for Maya. He’s stabbed before Maya and seems to lose consciousness far quicker than his girlfriend. Coupled with his asthma, it’s possible that Ryan did not survive the events of The Strangers: Chapter 1.

Given Ryan’s actions in the film, this adds another tragic layer to Maya’s survival. Ryan was initially suspicious of the entire small town of Venus, and his concerns about the area ended up proving true. His accidental murder of a local repairman could complicate any attempts made by police to fully investigate the aftermath of the attack. While his return could explore the guilt he felt over his actions, it’s unclear if Gutierrez will return for The Strangers: Chapter 2 — making his potential death all the more possible.


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Why The Killers Target Maya In The Strangers

How The Killers’ Motivation In Chapter 1 Is Consistent With The Strangers‘ Scariest Element

three masked people standing in front of a couple sitting down in The Strangers Chapter 1

The three killers in The Strangers: Chapter 1 are implied to be the same masked murderers who appeared in The Strangers and The Strangers: Prey at Night. Similarly to their other appearances, the three don’t seem to have any specific reason to kill beyond the joy they derive from the act of murder. Before Maya is stabbed and left to die, she tearfully asks them why they came after her and Ryan. One of the killers approaches her and simply says that they were there, implying this was just a case of bad luck for Ryan and Maya.

This lack of any specific drive or meaning behind the murders is one of the scariest elements of The Strangers as a concept. In The Strangers, the reason given for attacking Kristin and James was that “they were home.” Given the ending of The Strangers: Chapter 1, this suggests the violent actions taken in the films are simply the result of violent impulses and opportunity. While this keeps there from being any specific drive or overarching scheme, it adds a layer of terrifying randomness to the events. In theory, anyone could find themselves the next target of the Killers.

How The Strangers’ Ending & Post-Credits Set Up Chapter 2

The Post-Credits Scene Confirms Maya’s Survival, And Reveals She’s Still In Danger

Madelaine Petsch looking scared in The Strangers Chapter 1

The Strangers: Chapter 1 ends on a largely bleak note, with the killers seemingly able to escape consequences for their actions. Although Maya was able to call the police, the cops arrive too late to catch the killers. This means their violent acts will continue, setting up the next films as well as The Strangers and The Strangers: Prey at Night. The post-credits scene for The Strangers: Chapter 1 at least confirms that Maya survived the events of the film, although it’s unclear if Ryan did or not. However, Maya is still in danger.

The final shot of the post-credits sequence reveals that the Masked Man is also in the hospital room, watching her. If the Masked Man is truly there, it suggests that the killers are able to easily sneak through typically populated buildings like hospitals with relative ease. This could also imply they have some level of clearance or authority in their true lives. There’s also a possibility that the presence of the Masked Man is more of an visual indicator that the trauma of the attack lingers with Maya, designating her as the lead of the series going forward.

The Real Meaning Of The Strangers: Chapter 1’s Ending

The Strangers: Chapter 1 is largely focused on being a tense horror film, with little hint of any kind of overarching conspiracy or threat. Instead, the film leans into the random nature of violence, a theme that was at the heart of the previous The Strangers films. This is established in the opening moments of The Strangers: Chapter 1, which notes that there are millions of violent acts committed across the United States every year. While some violent actions are taken for a specific cause, sometimes horrible things happen to people for no reason.

The Strangers embodies that fear of the unknown and the random. The masked killers are never revealed, and there’s no clear clue if any of the locals from Venus are aware of their identities or involved in their actions. While later films in The Strangers may reveal motives, identities or origins of the killers, The Strangers: Chapter 1 leans into the horrifying implications of being alone and targeted for no reason more than being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s a fundamental fear, and one that The Strangers: Chapter 1 indulges to a horrifying degree.

Source:Entertainment Weekly

The Strangers Chapter 1 Poster Showing Three Masked figures Looking into a window

The Strangers: Chapter 1

The Strangers: Chapter 1 is the third film in the horror/slasher franchise directed by Renny Harlin. The film follows a young couple who move to the Pacific Northwest to start a new life. However, their new life gets off to a terrifying start when a broken-down vehicle forces them to stay at a remote vacation home, leaving them to be stalked relentlessly by three masked murderers. 

Renny Harlin

Release Date
May 17, 2024

Alan R. Cohen , Alan Freedland

Madelaine Petsch , Froy Gutierrez , Rachel Shenton , Gabriel Basso , Ema Horvath

The Strangers

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