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The Postcard Killings Ending Explained


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  • Kanon’s investigation of his daughter’s murder takes unexpected twists, leading to a shocking revelation at the end.
  • The real murderers are revealed to be Mac and Sylvia, who are actually siblings named Simon and Marina.
  • Simon dies, but Marina is still alive and contacts her abusive father, leaving the possibility of a sequel.



The Postcard Killings has a couple of twists that lead to a suspenseful ending. Directed by Danis Tanović and based on the 2010 novel The Postcard Killers by James Patterson and Liza Marklund, The Postcard Killings is a crime movie that follows NYPD detective Jacob Kanon (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), who, after the murder of his daughter and her husband in London while on their honeymoon, begins to investigate the case. Kanon soon finds similar murders in other countries and begins working with detectives in each country to solve the murders.

The murderers have a very disturbing but unique modus operandi, as they send postcards with cryptic messages to a local journalist before every murder and set the murder scenes to recreate famous works of art, though that means they also mutilate the bodies. Kanon then teams up with an American journalist in Sweden, Dessie Lombard (Cush Jumbo), to figure out the meaning of the postcards, who’s sending them, and why. The Postcard Killings has a couple of twists regarding the identity and backstory of the killers, with one final big reveal at the end that could have taken the story on a different route.


Is The Postcard Killings Based On A True Story?

The Postcard Killings is an intense thriller based on a novel by James Patterson and Liza Marklund, but is the concept based on a true story?

Who Were The Real Murderers In The Postcard Killings

The Postcard Killings had a couple of twists regarding the identity of the killers.

The audience is led to believe through the first part of The Postcard Killings that Pieter and Nienke are the murderers.

After the murder of Kanon’s daughter, The Postcard Killings takes viewers to a train to meet a young American couple – Mac (Ruairi O’Connor) and Sylvia Randolph (Naomi Battrick) – who are traveling across Europe. On the train, they meet Pieter (Dylan Devonald), but Mac and Sylvia start to feel uneasy around him and get off at the next station. As Kanon’s investigation continues, Mac and Sylvia come across Pieter again, who later introduces them to his wife, Nienke (Sallie Harmsen), just as Kanon and the other detectives find out that the killers are working as a pair, so the audience keeps believing that Pieter and Nienke are the murderers.

However, the first twist in The Postcard Killings is that Pieter and Nienke become the next victims of the murderers, and Mac and Sylvia are the real killers. Kanon and his team arrest them outside their hotel in Stockholm, but to their surprise, Sylvia has multiple alibis and receipts that can confirm they weren’t near the places where the murders took place, but Kanon later realizes that, when Sylvia said she collects receipts, it also means other people’s receipts so they can cover their tracks.

With the help of Kanon’s ex-wife and the mother of his daughter, Valerie (Famke Janssen), it’s revealed that Mac and Sylvia are actually Simon and Marina Haysmith, and they are not a newled couple. Another big twist in The Postcard Killings is that Simon and Marina are siblings, and the children of Simon Haysmith Sr. (Denis O’Hare), a man who stole millions from his Wall Street clients and is now in jail thanks to his son’s testimony against him.

Valerie also finds out, thanks to the Haysmiths’ neighbor, that Haysmith Sr. was physically abusive to his children, especially to Marina, and he puts a lot of emphasis on “young girls needing to be young girls” and how he went to lengths to keep his children apart. Thanks to this, Kanon and his team realize that Simon and Marina are in an incestuous relationship and what they want is to be able to love each other freely and not be judged, and through the murders of different newlywed couples, they are demanding understanding while also rebelling against their father.

Marina and Simon could have freely married and lived their lives as they wanted had they known the truth about their origins.

The final twist in The Postcard Killings is that there was no blood relation between Simon and Marina as they were both adopted by the Haysmiths, but they never knew this. Haysmith Sr. had a list of specific characteristics he wanted in his children, but all this perfectionism backfired horribly on all of them. Marina and Simon could have freely married and lived their lives as they wanted, and thus none of the killings would have happened, but they never learned the truth.

Why The Killers’ Murders Were Inspired By Art (& What The Postcards Meant)

It was all connected to their difficult past.

The Postcard Killings young Marina and Simon at a museum with their father Simon Haysmith Sr

As mentioned above, Simon and Marina have a very peculiar modus operandi as they not only earn the trust of their victims to leave no tracks, but they also heavily manipulate the bodies and murder scenes to send their message. Each murder is inspired by a work of art representing either love, pain, or death, and through them, they are also telling their story. Simon Haysmith Sr. was into art and taught his children about it from an early age, with one flashback showing Marina and Simon as children at a museum with their father, who tells them that “art is a wound turned into light”, a phrase that Marina later says to Simon.

Each postcard sent by Simon and Marina not only tells part of their story and purpose but also teases the next murder and the piece of art it will be inspired by. The postcards were part of the big message of rebellion and freedom Simon and Marina wanted to send and part of their revenge plan against their father, and along with the art references, they were using the knowledge they gave them against him, destroying his idea of “perfect” children.

What Happened To Simon & Marina (Did They Die?)

Kanon believed they wouldn’t last long.

The Postcard Killings Marina and Simon on the snow

Kanon comes up with a plan to attract the attention of Simon and Marina: have Dessie write an article on the case and their investigation, and it works, as Marina sends an email to Dessie thanking her for understanding them. Unfortunately, this also makes Kanon and Dessie their next target, with Dessie being chosen to die (and to recreate a Modigliani piece). Simon and Marina take Dessie to a snowy roadside field, but Kanon arrives right on time to stop them from killing Dessie. Kanon shoots Simon and lets them go, assuring Dessie that they won’t get far.

Marina is last seen dragging a bleeding Simon through the snow, who asks her if they are almost home, as their plan was to get to Russia, where they would be safe. It’s understood that Simon dies as a result of his wounds, but Marina somehow makes it to a safe place, and she might have hidden her brother’s body.

What Happened To Simon Haysmith Sr.?

Simon Haysmith wasn’t innocent, either.

The Postcard Killings Dennis O'Hare as Simon Haysmith Sr in prison

Simon Haysmith Sr. forced Simon and Marina to fit into his idea of perfect children, but he was abusive to both.

Simon Haysmith Sr. is presented as a villain, as he not only stole money from his clients but was also very strict and abusive to his children. Haysmith Sr. has a lot of hatred for his children, as shown in his conversation with Valerie, where he tries to shift the conversation to art or politics. Haysmith Sr. is no innocent man, doing what Kanon appropriately called “early genetic engineering” by making specific demands about the children he wanted to adopt, teaching them art in strict and even traumatizing ways, and forcing them to fit into his idea of perfect children.

It’s unclear in The Postcards Killings if Haysmith Sr. ever learns that his children committed a series of murders across Europe, as he continued to be imprisoned and Valerie doesn’t reveal anything about the murders during her visit.

How The Postcard Killings Sets Up A Sequel

The Postcard Killings had one more surprise saved for the very end.

The Postcard Killings Dennis O'Hare as Simon Haysmith Sr taking a call in prison

Although the mystery of who the killers are in The Postcard Killings is solved, the killers don’t face justice as they should. As mentioned above, Simon dies after being shot and his body isn’t found, nor is Marina’s – but that’s because she’s still very much alive. In the final scene of The Postcard Killings, Haysmith Sr. receives a call in prison and is surprised to hear his daughter’s voice speaking to him in Russian, simply saying “hello father, it’s me”. This leaves the door wide open for a sequel following Marina, but given the critical and commercial failure of The Postcard Killings, a continuation is unlikely to happen.

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