After receiving an email with an alarming video attachment, Mike heads into rural southern California to find his estranged best friend, Chris, who’s descended into meth addiction.
Mike finds Chris in an unfinished cabin, shooting at imaginary birds. He offers to take Chris to rehab, but Chris refuses. Mike then handcuffs Chris to the wall, promising to give him the key after seven days.
In-between keeping Chris fed and hydrated, Mike uncovers a mystery which grows more disturbing the deeper he digs. Spoilers follow.
There’s a lot to unpack here, dear reader, so bear with me.
The film first proffers a story about one friend attempting to rescue another from the throes of addiction. A noble cause, but the methods raise questions. A forced detox through involuntary imprisonment. Chris brings this point to bear in a moment of frustration, swearing once it’s over, he’s going to sue Mike.
This dovetails with the mysterious second story, which points to a supernatural force manipulating events to force an outcome. By the third act, Mike feels as frustrated and helpless as Chris did chained to the cabin wall.
And it’s the third act where the two threads merge, and the film transcends the sum of its parts. The men realize the unknown force wants a story with an ending. We—the audience—demand the same.
The addiction story thus far has avoided reductive tropes. Mike attempts to lay blame on Chris’s parents, but Chris has none of it. “I do drugs because my body chemistry makes me wanna do drugs,” he says. “If I had your parents, you know what I’d be, man? I’d be a guy with rad parents who fucking loves doing drugs.”
How can this end? Chris and Mike’s scramble to satisfy the unseen force mirrors Chris’s scramble to satisfy his addiction, and mirrors the filmmaker’s scramble to deliver a satisfying ending. That said ending proves both predictable and surprising attests to the film’s ingenuity and resonance.