American Psycho ending

I recently saw the film American Psycho starring Christian Bale. The ending really confused me. Anyone on here that has seen it and has theories on the ending?

Could you refresh my memory? After watching it the 2nd time, I’ve been thinking about reading the book.

The book/film is a satire on the self-absorbed 80’s yuppie culture the author was a part of. Everyone in the book is so full of themselves that they either overlook or blatantly ignore the obvious serial killer in their midst. Everyone is interchangeable so everyone is mistaken for somebody else. That’s why his lawyer thinks he saw Paul Allen in London.

Unfortunately the ending was too ambiguous and many people come away from the film thinking that all the killings were only imagined by Bateman. The director of the film has stated in interviews that she meant for Bateman’s crimes to be real crimes. Also, the film/book loses it’s satirical meaning if he never actually killed anyone.

Sounds interesting but I’ve never heard of it. :cool:

I don’t recommend reading the book unless you have a very high tolerance for violence. That’s not to say that it is a bad book. All of the violence is plot related and meant to move the reader to feel horror and disgust. It’s just that… it’s the most horrific violence I have ever read in my life. The movie tones it down a LOT.

Will probably skip it then. :cool:

Wow, really?? That movie is pretty violent to begin with, can’t imagine that its tamer than the book. Glad I never read it then.

I’m glad I stumbled upon this thread. My husband and I just saw the movie for the first time this weekend, and the ending really confused both of us. I thought the killings might have been imagined; maybe the main character was mentally unstable in more ways than I originally thought or something like that. But I think it makes more sense now, thank you to those who have posted here.

That being said, I don’t think I’d watch the movie again. The violence and the “racy” parts were a bit too much for my liking.


It was all in his mind. He didn’t really kill anyone.

I also think he imagined it all. he has a meltdown at the end and realises that his lawyer has no clue who he is, despite what happens in the film earlier. I thought it was quite good but not interested in the book, can’t stomach the violence.


It wasn’t in his mind. He did kill people.

Have you noticed that nobody in the film has any idea who anybody else is? Try watching it again, and this time count how many times somebody calls somebody else by the wrong name.

I agree w/vashsunglasses.

Great movie and it was all in his head, he never killed anyone.

Spoilers again…

It was all in his mind.

Nobody remembered him because he wasn’t someone with a status who people could remember. Paul Allen really went to London and Patrick didn’t kill him. Plus, every death or crazy situation had an explanation. Was it really blood in his sheets?? Or was it just cranberry juice? I’ll take the latter.

If that’s the case:

  1. Why would the director of the film state otherwise?
  2. What’s the point of the film/book? (since the brilliant satire of “self absorbed yuppies are oblivious to the obvious serial killer in their midst” is rendered null and void)
  3. Why did people (not Patrick Bateman) call other people (also not Patrick Bateman) by the wrong names?

The ambiguity is heightened by the fact that mistaken identity is a recurring theme throughout the book. Characters are consistently introduced as other people, or argue over the identities of people they can see in restaurants or at parties. Whether any of the crimes depicted in the novel actually happened, or were simply the fantasies of a delusional psychotic, is deliberately left open.

I see it from two angles. (i have read the book and seen the film, but I will try to keep the film version in my mind to answer your question)

Angle 1-Patrick Bateman did NOT really kill anyone.
This suggests that the man was insane. This would be a story of a man, driven to madness by the monotony of the daily life in Wall Street during the 80s. He has fantasies about what he would do to the people around him, if he wasn’t so boring. Due to his excessive drug and alchohol use, these fantasies start to become blurred with reality in his head. His final breakdown manifests itself as him getting away with murder even though he never actually did it.
If you believe this was the intent of the author, I think they would be trying to express the toll stress and drugs have on all members of society, evn those who are on the top of the food chain.

Angle 2-Patrick Bateman DID in fact murder multiple people.

This complicates things. If he really did all the killing and mayhem, even though he was reckless, and nobody ever caught him, this would be the author speaking out on the ignorance and selfishness of upper crust wall street types during the 80s. A people consumed with money, sex and drugs. It would be a statement that the city at that time, was Hell in a sense. A place where the most evil of men can do his evil deeds, and not stand out amongst the rest of the world. A place where nobody has an identity because they are all just cogs in an evil machine. In a place like this, Patrick Bateman would get away with all of the murders, because not only would a man of his social stature never become suspect, but the world has become numb to evil and violence.

I find the latter more satisfying. Not saying that it was a good thing at all, or that I agree with any of the violence. But artistically, I can see the satire of exaggerating the evil of the time and place, to point out the flaws of society in general.

Hope that makes sense.

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