An ending worth thinking about

Netflix’s “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” is two full hours of confusion

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Photo courtesy of Indie Wire

“I’m Thinking of Ending Things” follows an unnamed woman who goes on a trip to visit her boyfriend Jake’s parents’ secluded farm.

Kaden Roth, Staff Reporter

If you ever find classic horror movies to be formulaic and predictable “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” is definitely going to get you thinking. The movie is a Netflix adaptation of the 2016 novel by the same title, written by Canadian author Ian Reid.

The film follows an unnamed woman (Jessie Buckley) who goes on a trip to visit her boyfriend Jake’s (Jesse Plemons) parents’ secluded farm. From the synopsis, it’s easy to infer that both the novel and movie would play off of typical horror/thriller storylines. However, the movie does much more for the audience than what is expected.

As the couple delves into deep conversations about philosophical topics along the car ride, we are able to learn so much more about the character’s personalities without being directly told or shown. The young woman is thoughtful and intelligent while her boyfriend is abrasive and condescending. This is much more impactful on the audience because we are able to make up their stories in our heads which makes them more personal to us. 

As the car ride continues, we hear the woman’s inner monologue accompanied by the dialogue between characters, allowing the audience an insight into what our main character is truly feeling and thinking. This adds to the feelings of suspense and agitation when the couple arrives at the farm. When Jake, the boyfriend and the only character who is given a name, shows the young woman around the farm we are able to hear her inner thoughts where she expresses feelings of unease which the audience is able to reciprocate without any specific reasoning. 

The little intricate details that went into the farm tour scene like the lighting and music add a level of suspense that plays with the audience’s twitchiness. The same thing is done when both characters enter the house. Small details in the set like scratches on the basement door and old pictures that look like younger versions of the woman play off of the pre-existing nervousness the audience feels.

Following the tour of the house and surrounding farm buildings, our two main characters sit down for dinner with Jake’s parents, played by Toni Collette and David Thewlis. I believe this dinner scene created the peak feelings of anxiety and chilling awkwardness we, as the audience, experience. Colette and Thewlis play their roles as unhinged and crazed parents perfectly. Their portrayal carries the movie farther into the category of true horror/thriller because it’s the first time the audience is able to physically see something is wrong.

After leaving Jake’s parents’ house, the suspense really starts to escalate at a rate we aren’t used to which adds a whole other layer of confusion. The car ride to the final destination and the last 30 minutes of the movie is by far the most confusing and overwhelming parts of the film. In one instance the couple is replaced by two completely different people wearing the same costumes who perform a dance number.

My initial reaction to the ending was that I had no idea what had just happened. However, after reading “Charlie Kaufman’s Guide to ‘I’m Thinking of Ending Things:’ The Director Explains Its Mysteries,” an interview published on IndieWire with the director, I was able to connect more of the plot.

After gaining more insight into the choices the director and actors made, I developed a newfound respect for the movie. Even if parts of the film went over my head, I can appreciate the artistic cinematography and metaphorical meanings. The ending is completely different from the book, and although it was kind of hard to understand, I think it was supposed to make you think which it definitely did.

One thing that I really enjoyed about this movie/book was that both the author and director were able to make the audience have feelings of unease and uncertainty the entire time without being able to pinpoint exactly what is causing the feelings. That element alone creates a whole other level that isn’t prominent in classic horror/thriller films. The slightly changed settings and clothing during each scene contribute to this feeling that something isn’t right.

I’m not sure if I could honestly recommend this film to the average movie enthusiast. The level of brainpower that is required to truly understand and appreciate this movie to the extent that it deserves is hard to come by. I enjoyed the cinematography and the acting was impeccable, so for that alone, I’d give it three out of five stars. It would be unfair of me to go any lower solely on the fact that I wasn’t able to completely understand some aspects of the movie on my first watch. 

The artistry and attention to detail really elevated the experience for me and allowed me to better admire the film. One of the most important aspects of this movie, that I must commend the cast and crew for, is that I have not been able to get it out of my head. I believe that to be an immensely large sign of a horror/thriller movie done successfully.