Warning: Spoilers ahead for the ending of Hulu's Books Of Blood.
Hulu's new horror film Books Of Blood begins by teasing the whereabouts of the titular tome. What the audience later learns is that this book isn't really a book at all. It's something way more horrifying. Of course, this is no surprise for anyone who read the Clive Barker anthology series that the Books of Blood movie is based on.
Books Of Blood begins with the gory death of a bookshop owner who sends Bennett (Yul Vazquez) on a wild goose chase for the one of a kind book. We then meet Jenna (Britt Robertson), a young woman who suffers from misophonia or the hatred of sounds like chewing. After suffering some sort of mental breakdown, she is looking to get away from her controlling mother, and ends up in a quaint, but suspicious bed and breakfast. But it's the story of Miles, a young boy who died of leukemia, that finally shows us what the Book of Blood is.
The film begins at the end of Barker's series. The postscript of the sixth and final book, "On Jerusalem Street," is about a man who goes looking for the legendary book. The film's opening is reminiscent of this final tale, sending Bennett on a similar journey, but it plays around with the details. It does the same when telling the story of how the book was originally created using Miles' story to connect the dots between the different characters.
Though, it isn't really Miles' story, it's the story of his grieving mother Mary Florensky (Anna Friel), who, like in Barker's first book, is a psychic researcher who has made it her job to suss out fake mediums. In the film, this skeptic becomes a believer after watching Simon (Rafi Gavron) receive a message from her young son. She becomes obsessed with this young ghost whisperer who allows her to communicate with her boy once again.
Unfortunately, Simon reveals that the paranormal experience was a hoax orchestrated by Mary's ex husband. It was his way of getting back at her for not letting him see their son in his final days. Simon coming clean leads Mary to double-down. Turns out, she is the one who can communicate with her late son and he is none too happy to learn that Simon was capitalizing off his passing.
Mary gets her revenge by forcing Simon to reenact his faked visions. She locks him in her son's old room and this time, the boy does come to him with a message. He also brings along some very chatty ghost friends who have stories to tell, too. They carve their tales on his skin, leaving him scarred with the stories of the dead.
Like Barker's novel, it's there at Mary's house that the book is created. Those words etched into Simon's skin by those who have died are the Book of Blood. Simon's decision to desecrate the dead with his lies led him to become the vessel in which they speak the truth.
In the film, Bennett and Jenna's stories are also transcribed on Simon's flesh. The two are connected, not just by their deaths, but the fact that both of them have blood on their hands. We know that Bennett is a hitman of some type, but it's only revealed in the final act of the film that Jenna is not exactly a victim. She played a role in her boyfriend's death. We watch her encourage him to jump off a building while reassuring him she is about to do the same. But she isn't on a ledge, she is in her bed egging him on. Now she can't live with the guilt of what she's done.
Throughout the film, she talks about how being dead would be easier than living the way she does. She has isolated herself from the world around her, wearing headphones to keep the sounds out. It's why Jenna decides to go back to that bed and breakfast where the owners are turning humans into vegetables. The couple have found a way to keep people from dying alone by keeping them not exactly alive, but zombie-like in their walls and under the floorboard. They believe they are freeing their victims from pain and sorrow, which is what Jenna wants. Her decision to let the couple preserve her means she is able to finally rest, but she is also stuck in purgatory.
Simon is also trapped. He's forced to endure the pain of other people's trauma over and over again. His skin will forever tell the true stories of the dead including Jenna, whose story is certainly not what it seemed. The twist of the film is that Jenna is not our final girl, but, in fact, a villain of a different story that might not have been told without the Book of Blood.
"We all die," Mary says in the film's opening, "but sometimes the tales of our passing are so shocking they must be forever carved in our collective memory." After watching The Books Of Blood, the stories of Jenna, Bennett, and Miles will be hard to forget.