Knightley tells EW her take on the disturbing ending of her Christmas comedy and its apocalyptic take on holiday horror.

Spoiler alert: Christmas doesn't end well for Keira Knightley and her ensemble cast at the end of Silent Night, as the whole world gets a royal lump of coal in the form of planetary destruction.

Writer-director Camille Griffin's holiday apocalypse roasts humanity over an open fire, as the film's central Yuletide gathering concludes with all but one of the attendees ingesting a government-sanctioned suicide pill — one hawked by the British establishment as an easy out for the impending climate crisis-triggered doomsday.

After Art (Jojo Rabbit's Roman Griffin Davis) seemingly succumbs to a brush with an oncoming cloud of toxic fumes, his mother Nell (Knightley), father Simon (Matthew Goode), and twin brothers Hardy and Gilby (played by Roman's real-life brothers, also named Hardy and Gilby) all swallow the tablet as an emergency exit. The final shot of the film sees Art opening his eyes while laying in bed with his deceased family, and though his predicament is an immediately gloomy one, Knightley says the film's creators were adamant about celebrating the rising generation's tenacity when it comes to protecting the planet.

"We shot it both ways: One where he died, and one where he wakes up. I was strongly for the fact that he had to wake up because there had to be hope," Knightley tells EW. "You grow up, and you learn fear. You learn how difficult things are, so you basically become obsolete. In your fear, you wall yourself up and then just become afraid. Of course, you're going to take the pill because you're never going to believe there's anything beyond that. You'll believe that we're all done for. The whole idea is that, with youth, because of their naivety, that is their power; they still have hope, and if there's hope, there can be change."

Silent Night
'Silent Night' ending explained.
| Credit: Robert Viglasky/RLJE films

She explains that the film's conclusion is a nod to real-life budding climate crisis warriors, signaling that the world will be in better hands than those that shepherded global warming onto the world stage. People like Nell, her friends (Annabelle Wallis, Lucy Punch, Kirby Howell-Baptiste, and more), and their spouses, all of whom spend the film pleading with their children to not blame them for the state of the world.

But, as the film's ending proves, it's too little, too late. It's why Griffin pushes them to extinction and Art — who ultimately resists his parents' decision to kill off their family — into the future.

"That was our idea as far as the question over the climate crisis and because we were all so impressed by that generation of climate activists, and they are very much holding my generation and the generation above me to task and saying, 'What the f--- are you guys doing?'" Knightley finishes. "That was our way of [showing] that he went against what the norm was, and he survived."

Silent Night is now playing in limited release and streaming on AMC+. Read EW's full Q&A with Knightley here.

Silent Night
Roman Griffin Davis in 'Silent Night'
| Credit: Robert Viglasky/RLJE films

Hear more on all of this week's must-see picks in EW's What to Watch podcast, hosted by Gerrad Hall.

Related content:

Silent Night (Movie)
  • Movie
  • 94 minutes