And It Was All a Dream

I don’t know about the whole “it was all a dream” ending.

            I mean, sure, when I first encountered that type of ending, the plot twist had me thrown for a loop. “Wait. You’re telling me that, this whole time, this entire scenario was a dream? Whoa, just whoa. Hold up a minute. That is so clever!”

            Then I kept encountering it. Short stories. Short films. Heck, all of Alice in Wonderland and its many renditions (unless that’s up for debate as to whether it was something else entirely.) I watched a horror movie recently, and I’m not going to ruin it by naming its title, but it was well-made. Well-written. Well-acted. The characters strutted into the limelight, gave heart-wrenching, terrifying renditions of their miniature horror stories, and then either died or vanished. Right up until the last, horrifying moment, I was enraptured.

            And then, it all turns out to be a coma dream.

            I mean, sure. A horror movie where the coma patient frames this entire thing as a way to grapple with their impending medical circumstance, fine. But it felt kind of sad. Heartless. Spineless. You know, it’s like making a grandiose declaration of love for somebody, and then ending it with “just kidding!” 

            Sometimes, the trope works. Sometimes, the main character having it all be a dream (that was possibly real) is satisfying. Maybe we didn’t want them to suffer the main events of the “story dream”. Maybe it’s happier if it never happened. Or if it was all some elaborate framing device, a dream within a dream, if you will. (Ah, science fiction never ceases to amaze me with how philosophical it gets.) 

            Because of all this, I’m torn by the “it was all a dream ending”. To put it one way, it reminds the audience that they “aren’t in Oz anymore”. But, perhaps, we just need to escape and forget that it was ever a dream at all.