Emerald Fennel's Saltburn is a blast – a class satire, a hilarious black comedy and, as the final act steps things up a notch, a dark psychological thriller.

Saltburn revolves around Oliver Quick (Barry Keoghan), an outcast at Oxford who becomes infatuated with his popular classmate Felix Catton (Jacob Elordi) and eventually manages to bag an invite to spend the summer at his family’s estate.

Oliver wastes little time in ingratiating himself with Felix's eccentric, aristocratic family, including his parents Elsbeth (Rosamund Pike) and James (Richard E Grant), and his sister Venetia (Alison Oliver), and a series of increasingly shocking events ensue.

Read on for a recap and explanation of Saltburn’s shocking and twisted ending, including what happens to Felix and Oliver.

Saltburn ending explained: What happened to Felix?

The relationship between Felix and Oliver starts to go sour when the latter is seen performing oral sex on Venetia, but the first big twist happens when Felix works out that Oliver is not quite who he has been claiming to be.

Rather than being the poor only child of a drug-addict mother and dead father, it transpires that he is from a comfortable middle-class family – with Felix driving his friend to visit them for his birthday.

Oliver is clearly not happy that his deception has been discovered, and things next come to a head that night at a decadent Midsummer Night's Dream-themed birthday party that the Catton family has decided to hold for Oliver at the estate.

During the revelry, Felix follows Oliver into a maze and attempts to mend their friendship to no avail, before Felix's dead body is found in the maze the next morning.

After a rather bizarre scene in which Oliver essentially has sex with Felix's grave, we see the Catton family in mourning and Felix's cousin Farleigh questions why Oliver is still staying at Saltburn.

However, Oliver manages to turn things in his favour by suggesting that Farleigh's drug habit had contributed to Felix's death, and so it is instead the cousin who is sent away from the estate, with Oliver staying on.

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Rosamund Pike as Lady Catton in Saltburn holding a glass
Rosamund Pike as Lady Catton in Saltburn. WB

While Elsbeth is now rather attached to Oliver, Venetia has worked out that he isn't who he seems, and so confronts him about his role in Felix's death, only for her to also turn up dead the next morning – appearing to have died by suicide in the bathtub.

Eventually, Oliver leaves the estate after receiving a large payout from James, and the action soon jumps forward to some time later, when Elsbeth runs into him in a coffee shop.

She explains that since that summer at Saltburn, James has passed away, and she asks him to return to the estate to keep her company. Soon afterwards, she mysteriously falls ill and tells Oliver that she will be leaving everything – including the estate – to him.

In case you hadn't worked it out by now, Oliver then explains to Elsbeth that he had been behind everything from the very beginning, having been deeply resentful of Felix and the family in general.

He'd engineered his first meeting with Felix and manipulated things so that he'd feel sorry for him and invite him to Saltburn in the first place, before killing off each family member by turn – poisoning Felix, providing Venetia with a razor when she was at her lowest ebb and, now, finally suffocating Elsbeth.

The film ends with Oliver dancing naked around Saltburn to Sophie Ellis-Bextor's Murder on the Dancefloor – now the sole owner of the estate.

Saltburn is showing in UK cinemas now. Check out more of our Film and Drama coverage, or visit our TV Guide and Streaming Guide to find out what's on.


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