I watched I’m Thinking of Ending Things on Netflix a few days ago. While watching it, I felt a deep-rooted dread which inevitably took me into a dream-like reality that night.
I’m Thinking of Ending Things is another of Charlie Kaufman’s existential horror films, which develops a rapport with the audience with emotions like loneliness, isolation and a longing to give up. The film begins with a Young Woman, whose name isn’t disclosed, going on a road trip with her boyfriend Jake to meet his parents.
The film constantly changes up its time periods, what the Young Woman does for a living, her name and her clothes. What’s peculiar is that she seems unaffected by these odd transitions.
This makes viewers question whether the events in the film are actually happening or not. Maybe the events of the film are something that Jake concocted to peek at a future about what could have possibly happened if he spoke to the Young Woman; just something that takes place in his mind where he has the freedom of altering elements at his convenience.
This concept is uncannily similar to the physicist Richard Feynman’s idea of alternative-histories approach, which says that the universe does not have one and only one unique history. The universe, instead, has multiple histories with its own varying sets of probabilities. Stephen Hawking in his final book, Brief Answers to Big Questions, highlights the possibility of time-travelling into the past in some histories with highly warped space-time.
So was Kaufman abiding by the probability of Jake leaving parts of his soul in alternative histories, analysing just what would have happened if he spoke to the Young Woman? Or was this simply just his thoughts that consumed him as the older Jake swept the hallways of his high-school? Existential anxiety is one of the overtones of the film. The other is coldness – the snowstorm, the Orea Brr at Tulsey Town, the slippers.
Kaufman essentially captures how our mind constantly births questions about existence.
Having a whirlpool of alternate histories constantly running through your mind is exhausting and can always manifest into something darker – something like existential anxiety that wakes up at night, dancing about in your semi-conscious stupor.
Mine wanted to take a walk at night.
I have slipped into periods of intense, severe anxiety and depression. That’s usually when things start to get eerie. Especially with the damn blanket.
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My blanket has always been my weak point when I’m asleep. If someone broke into my house at night, I’d rather they took money and not my blanket. Ever since I was 11, a recurring hallucination always caused me to break into a sweat and yell for the blue sky. I’d open my eyes and see my blanket floating up to the fan and I’d stand on my bed and try to reach out and pull the blanket down. Or I’d frantically run to the switchboard and turn off the fan and see my blanket steadily float down to my bed. I was standing with one leg in reality and with one in my dream and I knew it was a hallucination, but I just had to act on it.
I was home alone one night and my eyes opened as the electricity went off. I woke up to a slouched, hooded figure very slowly walking towards me and I screamed my lungs out, grabbed my blanket and ran out my front door. I came into consciousness as I ran down the hallway and jerked midway to stop myself from running further. I felt my heart beat in every part of my body, from my temples to my toes.
I walked back into the house and as I tucked myself back to bed while looking around for a hooded, ghostly figure, I wondered why I took my blanket and ran. I could’ve very well taken a weapon, or my phone to call someone for help? Instead, I took my blanket with me.
I guess I’ll never know. A Kaufman film of my making.
The blanket and these unprecedented periods of depression have an invisible tunnel I’m not able to locate. It isn’t a co-incidence that every time I get anxious, I find myself yelling at the fan at night to give my blanket back. It’s no secret that depression can cause thoughts stored in deep recesses in your mind to creep out like a nocturnal animal looking for its worms. Existential dread stems from the creases of your mind that you sew shut and my episodes seem to talk crystal clearly about my feelings about my security.
Maybe I took my blanket with me to not show how vulnerable I am to the world?
Mirika is a journalist and a documentary filmmaker in the making. She writes about culture, politics and international relations and hopes to work as a long-form documentary correspondent.
Featured image credit: Netflix