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On the Count of Three Ending Explained

The ending of “On the Count of Three” offers a glimmer of hope despite its dark themes. Val and Kevin’s journey leads them to moments of clarity and a renewed sense of purpose.

“On the Count of Three”, directed by Jerrod Carmichael, is a dark comedy-drama that explores the lives of two best friends, Val and Kevin. They make a suicide pact and decide to spend their last day tying up loose ends. The film blends humor with serious themes, particularly around mental health and suicide.

Plot Overview

The film starts with Val and Kevin pointing guns at each other, ready to end their lives. This intense opening sets the stage for a day filled with dark humor, emotional revelations, and events that challenge their initial resolve. As the day goes on, the two friends confront their past traumas, seek revenge, and try to find closure in their relationships.

Val and Kevin’s journey is both heart-wrenching and darkly comedic. They face their demons together, showing the depth of their friendship. The film does not shy away from the gravity of mental health issues but uses humor to humanize the characters and their struggles. Their decision to end their lives comes from deep-seated pain and hopelessness, portrayed with sensitivity and realism (The Guardian).

Thematic Elements

Mental Health and Suicide

“On the Count of Three” tackles the heavy subject of suicide with a mix of dark humor and sincerity. The film does not trivialize mental health issues but uses humor to make the characters relatable. Val and Kevin’s decision to end their lives stems from deep pain and hopelessness, portrayed with sensitivity and realism (The Guardian).

Friendship and Loyalty

At its core, the film is about friendship. Val and Kevin’s bond drives their pact and actions throughout the day. Their loyalty to each other is evident in their willingness to face their demons together. This theme is poignantly explored as they navigate their final hours, highlighting the importance of human connection in the face of despair (NY Times).

Character Arcs


Val is resigned to his fate. He is tired of life’s struggles and sees the suicide pact as a way to find peace. Throughout the film, Val’s interactions with his girlfriend Natasha and his estranged father reveal his need for closure and resolution. His journey is one of seeking understanding and acceptance, both from others and himself (DMTalkies).


Kevin is driven by anger and a desire for revenge. His encounters with his high school bully and his abuser, Dr. Brenner, fuel his rage and need to take control of his narrative. Kevin’s arc is one of empowerment, as he seeks to reclaim his sense of self-worth and agency. His actions throughout the day reflect his struggle to find meaning and justice in a world that has repeatedly failed him (The Guardian).

The Ending

Climactic Confrontation

The film’s climax occurs when Val and Kevin’s plans spiral out of control. Kevin’s frustration reaches a boiling point during a confrontation at a convenience store. He attempts to resolve a petty grievance with a firearm. This moment highlights the characters’ desperation and the futility of their actions (

Resolution and Hope

Despite the dark premise, the film offers a glimmer of hope. Val and Kevin’s journey forces them to confront their deepest fears and desires. They experience moments of clarity and understanding. The ending suggests that while their initial plan was to end their lives, the experiences they share provide them with a renewed sense of purpose. This nuanced conclusion underscores the film’s message that even in the darkest moments, there is potential for change and redemption (DMTalkies).

Critical Reception

“On the Count of Three” has received generally positive reviews. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 85% based on 114 reviews. The critics’ consensus reads, “It’s occasionally uneven, but On the Count of Three finds director/star Jerrod Carmichael attempting an ambitious blend of drama and dark comedy—and often succeeding” (Rotten Tomatoes). Metacritic assigned the film a score of 74 out of 100, indicating “generally favorable” reviews (Wikipedia).

Notable Reviews

  • David Ehrlich of IndieWire: Ehrlich gave the film an A−, praising its risky yet exhilarating approach to heavy themes. He noted that the film’s ability to find happiness in the midst of despair is both dangerous and enjoyable (Wikipedia).
  • Benjamin Lee of The Guardian: Lee awarded the film 3/5 stars, acknowledging its messiness but also its ambitious and fascinating elements. He expressed excitement for Carmichael’s future projects (Wikipedia).
  • Vince Mancini of Uproxx: Mancini highlighted the film’s unique vibe, describing it as thoughtful, surprising, and depressive in an oddly optimistic way. He appreciated the film’s ability to balance dark themes with humor without being overly comedic (Uproxx).


“On the Count of Three” defies easy categorization. Its blend of dark comedy and serious themes creates a unique viewing experience that is both thought-provoking and emotionally resonant. The film’s ending, while not providing a definitive resolution, offers a sense of hope and possibility. It suggests that even in the face of despair, there is potential for change and redemption. Jerrod Carmichael’s directorial debut is a bold and ambitious work that marks him as a filmmaker to watch in the future.


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