Netflix’s “I’m Thinking of Ending Things ” Had Me Questioning My Sanity

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Netflix

Lucy, the main character, stands outside as it snows. A thought-provoking psychological horror film, “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” on Netflix is an unforgettable movie, and one worth rewatching multiple times.

Duke Donnelley, Staff Reporter

Psychological horror is usually more based on suspense and fear of the unknown than the usual direct, in-your-face jump scares with their bloody murderers and less-than-competent side characters. The horror isn’t derived from showing you all the details and scaring you through shock and gore. On the contrary, it is fear derived from purposefully not giving 100% of the info that the audience would need in order to understand what is completely going on. 

Netflix’s “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” directed by Charlie Kaufman is a perfect example of this. It can hardly be called horror throughout most of the movie as it’s more unsettling and disorienting than scary. It is incredibly slow-paced, and all of the horrors is based on the general atmosphere of the scenes, and the massive jumble of half baked information that is nearly impossible to piece together during your first watching of the movie. 

“I’m not really big on explaining what things are,” director Charlie Kaufman said in an interview with IndieWire. “I let people have their experiences, so I don’t really have expectations about what people are going to think. I really do support anybody’s interpretation.”

One of the strange scenes in the movie: Lucy looks out the window of Jake’s parents’ house and sees that it’s only snowing on the car and on nothing else outside. Although this shot is no longer than a few seconds, it certainly has an impact on the viewer, and can cause confusion of the audience on what is happening in the movie. (Netflix)

The thing is, it can’t even be said that there’s one main character. In the beginning, it seems as if Lucy, the main character played by Jessie Buckley, as her voice and thoughts are used to initially narrate the movie. She is our eyes and ears for the main portion of the movie, as she appears to be the main focus for most of the shots in the movie, but there are many scenes that go off track and follow a much older character who appears to be a janitor in a midwestern high school. 

This old janitor character appears in many strange scenes that pop up at random throughout the movie and they simply follow him living his life at his workplace and doing his janitorial duties. He becomes much more important at the very end of the movie when we delve deeper into his background and how he ties into other aspects of the many different stories in the movie.

The second main character is Jake, who is played by Jesse Plemons. Jake is Lucy’s boyfriend, and the entire plot revolves around Jake taking Lucy to meet his parents who live in an old, isolated farm home. During their journey, it starts snowing and it is forecasted that a blizzard will come in. When they make it to Jake’s childhood home, there are many odd things that transpire throughout the duration of the farm home scenes. 

While looking through the windshield of his car, Jake sees an old mid-1900s cartoon world outside. Although it’s later in the movie, and there are many other confusing things before this, it still evokes questions from the audience as to what in the world is exactly going on in this movie. (Netflix)

Although there are out-of-place scenes at the beginning of the movie, the farmhouse is where things really pick up, and as the evening goes on many out of place, or should I say out of time things, start occurring. When Jake’s dog starts shaking off water in the doorway, it doesn’t stop for an unusually long time. When we see Jake’s parents, at first they are older but then we see them in a later scene during the same dinner as incredibly older. Right before Jake and Lucy leave, they are incredibly younger, which can completely confuse the viewer due to how unordinary and strange the parents seem, and how no one in the movie except Lucy seems to be reacting to this. They also have an eerie speech pattern and force unnecessary jokes and laughs into the conversation throughout their interaction with Lucy.

“I’m Thinking of Ending Things” is definitely not a movie you will understand by watching once. Despite all the detail I’ve attempted to give about this movie without spoiling anything, I have yet to scratch the surface of the true plot and meaning this movie holds. The strange behavior of all the characters, the way that time seems to affect different aspects of the environment differently, and even the small things like how the dog shakes itself off for an unusually long amount of time all contribute to the eerieness of the movie. The great cinematography is another striking element of the film. Strange angles and a rustic setting make for some great shots with minimal special effects. 

It’s definitely not a movie that all will enjoy, but for those who are patient or love slow-paced horror and analyzing deeper meanings, it is an excellent pick on a dark, rainy evening.