How It Ends

Written by Brooks McLaren and directed by David M. Rosenthal, How It Ends is an upcoming Netflix original set to premiere July 13th, roughly eight years after the original script in 2010.

Aurally, the trailer constitutes an exercise in minimalism. A single note intones from the beginning, and is almost never deviated from. The first scene is a bit richer in sonic variety: rumbling, “Inception sound” bass is complemented by incisive strings. 0:24 marks the introduction of the movie’s central conceit: a very strange, sort of watery alien noise is emitted, an aural commentary on the sudden disruption in Will’s phone. It points to a contemporary societal fear that as more and more of our daily lives are structured upon surprisingly insecure and fragile electronic communications, we are increasingly susceptible to any disturbance in that communicative framework.

0:27 to 0:30 gives us a rapid-fire montage with a sort of engine revving sound, culminating in the studio (Netflix) logo at 0:32 with an ominous, blaring, distant horn  – perhaps a trumpet of the apocalypse, sounding the proverbial alarm that something in the world of this film has gone seriously awry. 

At 0:39 we see an MSNBC broadcast dramatically cut out; the foley does important work in conveying the network failure. Atmospheric flourishes in a dull and imposing monotone lay the groundwork for the dialogue that follows, showing an increasing desperate and afraid cast. By 1:13 some light and persistent percussion joins in; at 1:25 the war drums come in, probably not coincidentally alongside the dialogue, “I’ve seen war game simulations; they’re events just like this.” The accompanying whistling at this point calls to mind The X Files.

The huge, dark storm clouds at 1:36 are aurally foregrounded, providing a natural intermission of sorts for the music, which returns at 1:42 even more insistently than ever before. This brief pause in the music effectively helps ensure the listener isn’t desensitized to the effect of the music just yet. 

At 1:52 we get the now-pervasive “power-down sound” with a slowed-down action shot of a drifting car, followed by gunfire that has been intensely amplified, perhaps even assisted by percussion, which presages a sequence at 1:57 that ratchets up the percussion to a double-time meter, playing twice as fast as before. 

It finally, well, ends at 2:08 with the introduction of the title card and a final sounding of the ominous, distant horn. Of course, not really – we’re given a final sequence at 2:15 which seems to follow a truck barely outrunning some kind of dust cloud, perhaps a result of a nuclear explosion of some kind. 

In all, the editors do some great work in blending together some expected sounds from action trailers with a variety of firmly unidentifiable effect and soundscapes that fit that fear of the unknown that is clearly explored here. If a touch monotonous – there is no clear melody to be found – the aural direction taken only lends to its sense of austerity and a bereft atmosphere in the world of the film.



– Curtis Perry