At the end of the movie we see Sheriff Ed Tom enter the hotel room where Llewelyn Moss was killed. He sees that the lock was "punched" out similar to the lock on Llewelyn's trailer. So, we can assume that Chigurh had entered the room at some point (there is further evidence by the opened vent). But what evidence is there that Chigurh is in the room at the moment that Ed Tom enters the room?
He's in the room next door.
If you watch the scene again, Tommy Lee Jones notices the lock is destroyed and then proceeds to clear the room. The scene then cuts to Chigurh in another room of the motel listening to the sheriff and watching his movements as shadows through the destroyed lock of the door leading to the adjoining room.
I think that Chigurh was not in the room, but it was the imagination of Sheriff Bell.
There are three pieces of evidence for this: 1) In the preceding scene, Sheriff Bell says of Chigurh, "Sometimes I think he's pretty much of a ghost." 2) When Bell is about to go into the room, we see Chigurh hiding in the dark, while Bell hesitates to open the door (fearing that Chigurh is in there). But when Bell finally opens the door, Chigurh is not there... 3) When Bell checks the bathroom, the window is locked from the inside--so Chigurh could not have escaped that way while Bell hesitated to open the door.
Putting those three pieces of evidence together, it seems that when we see Chigurh in the shadows, we are actually seeing Bell's imagination of Chigurh, "the ghost" or Boogey Man.
An alternative explanation is that Chigurh hid in the closet and snuck out the moment that Bell went into the bathroom. However, that would be inconsistent with what we know of Chigurh. He is not afraid of the police, or anyone. And he loves to kill people when he has the chance. We already saw him kill a policeman from behind by strangling him. So, if Chigurh had managed to hide in the closet, he would likely have killed Bell as soon as he had the chance. At a minimum, we would have seen him leaving, or at least seen a clue to his having snuck out (e.g., the front door closing, or a shadow as he passed out of the door).
Another possible explanation is that Chigurh was next door. But why would he be there? We know that he already got the money, because a the end of this scene, we see that the ventilation grating has been removed (which is where Moss previously hid the money in the other hotel room), and we see that the screws are on the floor, with a dime used to unscrew them (which Chigurh previously used to remove the ventilation grating in the other hotel room). So, this indicates that Chigurh got the money. Therefore, there is no reason for him to hang out in the room next door. He already got what he came for and left.
Finally, the explanation of Mistah Mix about Chigurh being shown in the other room after Sheriff Bell cleared the room is based on a false recall of the order of the events in the video clip that Mistah Mix linked to:
The relevant shots, in order, are: 1) shot of the blown-out lock 2) Sheriff Bell looking at it 3) repeat of #1 4) Chigurh in the dark, with a yellow circle of light (the light through the blown-out lock(?)) 5) repeat of #2 6) repeat of #4 (without the yellow circle of light) 7) the blown-out lock, from the inside, with yellow light shining in 8) repeat of #2 9) Sheriff Bell pulls out his gun and cocks it 10) Sheriff Bell pushes open the door (camera shot taken from outside) 11) Sheriff Bell pushes open the door (camera shot taken from inside)--but Chigurh is not there--and Bell steps inside 12) Sheriff Bell's face looking for Chigurh 13) Sheriff Bell's shadow on the back wall of the room as he is looking for Chigurh 14) Sheriff Bell looking down at the floor 15) The blood from Llewelyn Moss on the carpet 16) Sheriff Bell's feet walking around the blood 17) Sheriff Bell walking into the hotel room, and back into the next room 18) Sheriff Bell looking into the bathroom, and turning on the light
So, contrary to what Mistah Mix said, we do NOT see Chigurh in the next room AFTER Sheriff Bell clears the room. Instead, we see Chigurh in the same room (as indicated by the yellow light coming in from the blown-out lock on the wall next to Chigurh) BEFORE Sheriff Bell comes into the room.
In summary, the idea that Chigurh quickly hid in the closet and silently escaped is inconsistent with the rest of the movie's portrayal of Chigurh as a cold blooded killer. And there is no evidence that Chigurh was in the next room, and no reason for him to be there anyway--he already got the money.
Instead, we see clearly that Bell was afraid of Chigurh--he called him "a ghost" and was obviously afraid that Chigurh was hiding in the shadows behind the door. So, it seems that the Cohen brothers were playing tricks with the audience's mind, and showed us Bell's imaginative fears of Chigurh "the ghost."
I saw this post as I was doing a film assignment for College. And I am here to help answer it as well.
There is no way that Chigurh is in the closet next to the bathroom, here's why:
When the Sheriff turns on the bathroom light, in the mirror reflection, you can clearly see this light from the bathroom (1:41:37) light up the hallway that the closet is attached to. If Chigurh was there, Ed Tom would've seen him in the mirror.
After he inspects the bathroom and notices that the windows are locked, he walks out of the bathroom and fully sees into the "other room"/closet (1:41:50). Ed Tom in fact does check the closet when walking out of the bathroom, and if he saw Chigurh then, he would've been dead. So Chigurh can't be in the closet.
Also, the closet has one opening with no walls/corners to hide behind. It is a straight shot from the bathroom. It structurally wouldn't make sense for Anton to be there as Ed Tom would see him.
Also, there is no way Chigurh could be in the motel room with Ed Tom Bell. Like the other posts' have said above, it is Ed Tom's "fear" of Chigurh being there that he sees, here is why:
When Ed Tom opens the door, it is his fear that Chigurh is behind it, the door squeaks when it opens and BOUNCES OFF OF THE WALL. So Chigurh cannot be behind the door.
Even for those that say it wasn't the wall, it was Chigurh the door bounced off of, that door squeaks. So even if it was Chigurh, he couldn't escape from the motel room without pushing the door, hence making it squeak again.
For everyone who said that Chigurh could've been in the closet and ran out, that is highly unlikely as Ed Tom would've seen him, but also, that is unlike his character we've seen during the movie. Chigurh doesn't run. He kills. He only runs when he can't kill, and he had every opportunity if he was in the motel to kill Ed Tom, and he didn't, so Chigurh isn't in the room.
Also the bathroom window was locked from the inside, so Chigurh couldn't have escaped through it.
But also, the lighting plot makes no sense for Chigurh to be in the closet while Tom Bell was outside the door. The peep hole light can be seen in the frame, so can the ACTUAL PEEP HOLE circle. If Chigurh was in the closet, there would be no way that light would reach him, nor no way that you can see the peephole in frame either.
Finally, to the above posts that said the crime scene tape was broken and that's how Chigurh left. It is clearly not broken, the last time we see the crime scene tape in shadow is when Ed Tom sits on the bed and looks at the vent grate on the floor. You can clearly see the shadow of crime scene tape flapping in the wind behind Ed Tom. Therefore, the tape is not broken.
So Chigurh wasn't ever in the motel room with Ed Tom. It was his fear of Chigurh being there that the audience saw with him.
Please note when Sheriff is moving towards the bathroom, the reflection of the crime scene tape on the wall is clear. Once he is out if the bathroom, that reflection disappears which clearly suggests that the tape has been broken. Chigurh was in. Bell saw his reflection in the broken lock.
In fact, I would go a step ahead and say that Chigurh also saw Bell and knew that he had seen him. But Bell "turned a blind eye" in a conspicuous way so that Chigurh knows that Bell has ignored him deliberately which is one of the main themes of the story were in the author is suggesting that evil is thriving due to the good not confronting it.
Reviewing the scene it seems provable that Chigurh was simply hiding behind the door of the motel room and he snuck out when Ed Tom entered the bathroom. Here is the sequence of events, including only the important bits.
- When we see Chigurh inside, waiting, he is pressed flat against a wall, facing perpendicular to the yellow beam of light.
- The yellow circle of light from the blown out lock is roughly 3 feet in front of him. This matches the wall space required to conceal him plus the width of the motel room door.
- The closeup of the blown out lock makes it abundantly clear that the yellow beam of light is coming through the lock.
- Ed Tom enters the room, opening the door hard enough that it hits the wall, but it doesn't bounce back open at all.
- Of particular importance - the door is completely dark at this point; it is not lit by the exterior lights.
- Ed Tom then carefully steps over the puddle of blood and goes into the bathroom for at least 13 seconds, perhaps longer. (Total speculation, but perhaps this desire to keep his boots clean was the reason Chigurh didn't simply shoot Ed Tom?)
- When Ed Tom returns to sit on the bed, the shot is from a different angle, so it's difficult to judge the position of the door relative to the furniture, however, we now see that the door is fully lit by exterior lighting. It's now in a substantially more open position.
- As noted by asad iqbal in their answer, the shadow of the caution tape across the doorway is now missing. Unfortunately Ed Tom is sitting in front of the doorway, so we can't see 100% for certain that it has been broken, but it seems likely.
I just watched again and noticed for the first time what appears to be the reflection of both the sheriff and Chigurh in the brass hole where the lock once was. You can see their faces, unless I’m imagining things (like the sheriff). So, I was convinced that Anton was actually in the room. He’s definitely not next door. However, when the sheriff busts in, the room is empty.
I tried to see it through the eyes of Anton, like he examines the first motel room top to bottom to get the layout and think everything through. Well, there’s nowhere he can really hide in there and of course he didn’t go out the window. He’s not in there. The Cohen Bros are messing with us and giving us the feeling like the sheriff has of entering the room. We know the sheriff’s going to die, and so does the sheriff. It’s a neat trick.
In the book, Anton is actually sitting in a car in the parking lot, watching. My guess is that’s exactly where he is in the movie. Cormac McCarthy novels are deep btw. Anybody who loves this movie will love the book. The Cohens took it practically word for word — with the exception of one major scene. I won’t spoil it, read the book. It’s an important scene and sums up what the whole story is about.
Based in the light from the ‘pinched out’ lock into the room, it makes sense that Anton was in the closet & not behind the door. I believe he left when the sheriff turned on the bath light & the exhaust fan noise covered Anton’s steps while leaving the hotel room. The ‘Caution Tape’ shadow was missing. This leads me to believe Anton was in the closet & left.
I agree, there was no need to kill the sheriff. If the sheriff would have died, we wouldn’t have met his dad & who’d have narrated the ending?
The original person was right. Chigurh was in the adjacent room. Notice the vertical sliver of light across the left side of his face. Chigurh was watching Ed Tom as he entered the other room through the window where the curtain edge left a sliver of space which explains the light and Chigurh's attention towards that light.
The reflections in the cylinder before Ed Tom opens the door show clearly show the warped image of the silver barrel on Anton’s weapon and somewhat less clearly, his face. If watched closely, there is also movement in the cylinder reflection of both Anton’s face and the silver barrel. Separately, the police tape that is visible by wall shadow when Ed Tom enters the room then isn’t apparent on the wall when he sits on the bed, is shown again when he notices the vent. There is visible movement in the horizontal wall shadows as if a light wind were causing the tape to flutter. Based on the closeups in the cylinder reflections and the shadows of the police tape, I believe the Cohens filmed both intentionally but ultimately made other choices regarding edited content. Such multiple scene takes are done to give maximum flexibility when editing. It is also how continuity errors can occur after the fact.
If you watch closely the SEQUENCE of visuals, (1) the sheriff stands outside the door looking down at the popped lock. (2) they show a quick scene showing Chigurh in the shadows looking at what appears to be the hole in the door lock from the INSIDE of the room. Then (3) the Sheriff pushes the door open and enters the room and proceeds to clear the room. So this kinda negates what Mistah Mix was sayings. I lean towards agreeing with smitty saying he was in the closet. That's the only place he could have been but I'm confused as to why he didn't kill the sheriff when he entered the room.