The Little Things ending explained: Who is the killer?
The Denzel Washington, Rami Malek and Jared Leto serial killer mystery leaves viewers with some big questions.
The Denzel Washington-led thriller The Little Things has landed on Netflix two years after its official release, introducing a brand new audience to the film’s controversial ending.
The movie, which also stars Rami Malek, follows Los Angeles police detectives Joe ‘Deke’ Deacon (Washington) and Jimmy Baxter (Malek) as they attempt to hunt down a serial killer whose MO is similar to that of an unsolved case from Deke's past, which still haunts the detective.
Their investigation for the most recent murder leads the pair to the incredibly creepy Albert Sparma (Jared Leto), who likes to taunt the detectives about their failure to solve the case, and who even admitted to a killing he couldn't have possibly committed. So we're led to believe, anyway.
Eventually, when cornered by Baxter, Sparma says he will take the detective to the body of one of the dead women, which Baxter of course accepts, with Deke following behind in his car – leading to the surprising climax.
So, what does the ending of The Little Things mean and who was the real killer? Read on for everything you need to know.
The Little Things ending explained: Who was the real killer?
Sparma takes Baxter to what he says is the burial place of one of his victims but though the cop digs and digs and digs some more for a body, nothing is found. All the while, Sparma taunts the detective and even mocks his ability to protect his daughters, causing Baxter to lose it and beat Sparma to death with a shovel.
Deke arrives with the intent to cover up Sparma’s murder, with the film suddenly flashing back to five years previously to show the senior cop accidentally shooting a missing girl and the incident being hushed up by the coroner.
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Deke tells Baxter to forget about Sparma or else it will consume all of him, even as the younger cop continues to search for a body in the desert but none can be found.
Moving to the very final sequence of the film, Baxter is at home when he receives a package in the mail featuring a red hair clip identical to the one worn by one of the murder victims. The film then cuts to Deke burning all of Sparma’s things as well as a brand new box of hair clips with the red one missing. Deke bought the hair clip and sent it to Baxter to try and make him think that he did the right thing and could now reach closure.
What does the ending mean in The Little Things?
By the time the credits roll, we don’t find out who killed the women. We don’t know if it was Sparma or not. All we know is that Deke now wants Baxter to believe Sparma was the killer so that he didn’t suffer from the same torment he did.
Hancock was also ambiguous about the ending when asked about it by Entertainment Weekly: "I can make an argument either way. I mean, he does say, 'I've got to work tomorrow, come on let's go,' which is a hint that nothing's going to happen out there."
He continued: "If he was taking him out there to go and find a body, then he certainly wouldn't be going to work the next day. Or is he lying?"
Hancock revealed that Leto came to his own conclusion, but never shared his decision as he continued: “He asked me, ‘What do you think?’ And I said, ‘I don’t know.’ I said, ‘I don’t know and that’s not what the movie’s about’.”
“Either he was guilty and the crimes are going to stop or he’s not and the crimes might keep going on. So, it’s an ugly ending any way you look at it, it’s all about the grey.”
He continued: “He said, ‘I think I have to come to a decision about this.’ I said, ‘I understand that completely, just don’t tell me.’ So he made a decision for himself and we were there to capture it.”
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