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You know I can't give you the keys, right, babe?
~ Rose Armitage showing Chris her true colors.
You were one of my favorites...
~ Rose Armitage to the hypnotized Chris Washington after he is taken hostage by her and her family.
She was portrayed by Allison Williams in her film debut.
Rose is the eldest child of Dean and Missy Armitage, the older sister to Jeremy and the granddaughter of Roman and Marianne Armitage. Rose grew up on her family's estate and was raised to share their beliefs about using African Americans as vessels to achieve immortality. When she was an adult, she and her brother would be tasked by their parents and the Order of the Coagula to kidnap African Americans and bring them to their property, where they would be hypnotized and subjected to a brain transplant surgery that would allow members of the Order to achieve immortality. While her brother hunts down victims in a predatory fashion, Rose forms false relationships with African American men, gaining their trust and eventually luring them to her families' home. Rose was incredibly successful at her work and succeeded in luring many African Americans to her families' property, including Walter and Georgina, who would eventually become the vessels for her grandparents.
Rose met Chris Washington at her college and began a relationship with him, intending to eventually lure him to her family's estate. After dating for five months, Rose finally decides to take Chris to see her parents. Though he is slightly worried about the meeting, Rose claims that she had neglected to inform her parents that he was an African American. Rose calms his concern by assuring him that her parents aren't racist, even saying her father would've voted for Obama a third time if he had the chance. While on the way to the Armitage house, the couple accidentally hits a deer before pulling up to the house, for which Chris shows remorse but Rose is indifferent to. Though the police are called for the incident, the unnamed officer insists seeing Chris' identification even though Rose was driving. Rose stands up for him, implying that it was unfair for the officer to ask for the ID. The officer tries to explain that he is required to obtain the ID's of everyone involved, but she interrupts him and shoos him away before Chris can comply.
While at the Armitage household, Rose introduces her evil cohorts and family; her mother, Missy (a hypnotherapist), her father, Dean (a neurosurgeon), and her younger brother, Jeremy. During the couple's stay at the Armitage residence, Missy hypnotizes Chris, culminating in him finding cigarettes disgusting. He tries to explain this to Rose the next day, but she doesn't believe him. After Chris flashes a picture of acquaintance Andre Hayworth that causes Andre to snap out of his hypnosis, Chris tells Rose that he plans to leave, and she offers to run away with him.
While Rose is preparing her bag, Chris uncovers some pictures from her closet, which shows that Rose had several African American lovers that she had lured to the house, including Walter and Georgina, who now work for the Armitage family. Rose and her family reveal their true nature, and the Armitage family are revealed to be the leading members of a secret cult known as the Order of the Coagula (founded by Rose's grandfather Roman) whose main objective is achieving immortality through transferring their brains into African American bodies. African American men and women are lured to the house by Rose and Jeremy, and they are subdued through Missy's hypnosis. The original inhabitant's mind is overwritten via Dean's neurosurgery to make adjustments for their new master, but a sliver of their consciousness is still present, trapped in the Sunken Place. They are forced to watch as their original bodies are used in ways without their consent, existing as passengers. The Armitages' wealthy friends, who are deteriorating from old age, medical conditions, or a desire to quickly & easily be physically greater, bid on their future hosts by participating in bingo, as part of a silent auction, similar to slave auctions. They too presumably pay a considerable amount for said vessels to fund the Coagula.
True Colors Revealed
As Chris attempts to leave, Rose stalls him by pretending to look for the car keys in her bag, while Jeremy, Dean, and Missy prevent him from leaving. When Chris grows impatient, Rose reveals her true colors. Far from the supportive and loving woman that Chris initially believed, she is instead a remorseless sociopath who takes pleasure in forming false relationships with her victims before sending them to be brainwashed.
The Armitages capture Chris and prepare to subject him to the brain transplant. During this time, Chris's friend and TSA officer Rod suspected foul play towards Chris once he stopped answering his calls. Rose finally answers Rod on Chris's phone, and, as a panicking Rod interrogates her to see if she knows where Chris is, Rose comes up with mediocre lies. Rod becomes suspicious of Rose's deceit, and mutes Rose, before plugging in a recording device to his phone. He unmutes her, and responds to her with deeper questions, frustrating Rose, who then invites Rod to have sex with her so that she can make Rod her next victim. Rod angrily rejects Rose's sexual advances, hangs up and sets out to find Chris. Shortly after, Chris escapes and kills her father, mother and brother.
Rose, who up to that point had been in her room, searching the internet for her next victim, hears the fighting and goes downstairs to investigate, armed with a rifle. Intending to protect herself from the inevitable law involvement should Chris escape, Rose chases him down and attempts to dispatch him as he drives away in Jeremy's car. With the help of her grandparents Roman and Marianne (inhabiting the bodies of the house servants Georgina and Walter), she corners him, though Georgina is killed in the process, resulting in Marianne's death. Just as Walter is holding him down, Chris manages to break him free of Roman's control by a photo flash via his cell phone. Walter then orders Rose (who is unaware that her grandfather has lost control of Walter's body) to give him the rifle. Walter fatally shoots her in the stomach before turning the gun on himself, killing Roman with him. However, Rose does not die immediately and attempts to grab the gun again to shoot Chris before he pulls it away from her. Chris then climbs on top of her and glares at her.
Rose, bleeding and unable to move, softly apologizes to Chris and repeatedly tells him "I love you", attempting to convince him to spare her. Ignoring her, Chris tightly grips her neck and starts to strangle her. Rose initially panics, but starts smiling evilly, presumably either getting sexually aroused or being unafraid of Chris' desire to kill her. Chris, either now unwilling or too exhausted to kill his former girlfriend, stops strangling her. When a police car pulls up, Rose weakly calls for help, hoping Chris will be arrested and that she will be saved. However, the car is revealed to be a TSA car driven by Chris' friend Rod, much to Chris' relief and to Rose's dismay. As Chris enters the police car, Rose can only watch him and Rod drive away as she succumbs to her injuries, ending her family's insidious plans forever.
With the entire Armitage family dead, the Coagula presumably dissolves, as well, preventing the cult's members from hijacking the bodies of future African-Americans.
Dean pointing his finger at a picture of Jeremy and Rose as children.
Rose and Jeremy
Rose shows Chris her true colors.
Rose attempts to stop Chris' escape by firing a bolt-action hunting rifle.
After being revealed as the true villain, she puts her hair up and it remains that way for the remainder of her time as a way to show her previous look was simply a piece of camouflage to hide her true nature.
After her true nature is revealed, several of Rose's actions prior to her villainous reveal are cast in a different light and provide foreshadowing:
At the beginning of the film, Rose says to Chris’ dog that she needs to “pry” something out of him. This alludes to her family’s brain transplant program, which Rose plans to subject Chris to.
When Rose prevents a police officer from checking Chris' ID, she seems to be defending him from a racist policeman, when in actuality, she doesn't want any record of Chris' location, in case law enforcement attempts to look for him when he goes missing.
Rose decides to take Chris for a walk while her father hosts an auction, with the Order of the Coagula members bidding on Chris to use as a vessel. It's possible that she did this to ensure that Chris would be unable to witness the auction and remain unaware of her true intentions.
Rose tells Chris that her father would vote for Obama for a third time if he could. Dean says this again, almost using the exact same words. It's possible that they've said this to Rose's victims in order to make them feel safe and reduce the chance of their true nature being revealed before the brain transplant.
Her sexual orientation is unknown, though it can be assumed she is heterosexual or perhaps bisexual due to the majority of her partners being males.
She is seen with Georgina but that was for the life of her grandmother, so she very well could have been faking attraction to her. There's also a chance she was merely friends with Georgina.
Rose serves as The Heavy because, even though her entire family was involved in the plot, she was the most direct threat to Chris (especially since she was the one dating him) and she was the most dangerous near the end of the film since only she carried a gun and used it to hunt Chris.
It was often speculated that Rose was hypnotized by Missy into going along with her family's crimes. This was ultimately debunked by Allison Williams, who declared that none of the Armitages had been hypnotized, and that Rose was just a heartless monster. She even asked director Jordan Peele during the filming if Rose would have continued seducing and abducting black people even after every other member of her family had been killed; Peele replied that she would.
Her death is an allusion to the death of Chris' mother, who succumbed to a gunshot and was left to die outside, cold and alone.