“End of the Rope” is a western crime mystery drama based on the true story of the infamous Charles Bannon case of 1931. Set in Schafer, North Dakota, the film revolves around a family’s mysterious disappearance. The film presents a series of extreme reactions to this incident while following the villagers’ past peeking into their present. Charlie Griak has directed this film based on a screenplay written by himself with Daniel Bielisnki and Dennis Johnson. The film stars Joseph Gray, Chris Bylsma, Nick Saxton, Joseph Bezenek, Megan Hensley, Tiffany Cornwell, Charles O’Haver, and Christine Weber in the central roles.

Spoilers Ahead

End of the Rope (2023) Plot Summary & Movie Synopsis:

Based on the actual story of Charles Bannon’s lynching in 1931, “End of the Rope” is a western crime mystery drama film directed by Charlie Griak. It takes place entirely in a small town in North Dakota, where two men try to find the perpetrator behind a family’s sudden disappearance. The film follows the lives of the villagers, who try to coexist despite their mutual differences about this subject and about life otherwise.

What happens in ‘End of the Rope’?

“End of the Rope” begins with a village gathering where people are in a jolly mood. But unlike them, CA Jacobson (Joseph Gray) is gloomy and despondent. Albert Haven (Charles O’Haver) tries to cheer him up. He tries to make CA see how good things are for them. Moments later, CA finds his house on fire. Due to this incident, his daughters suffer a tragic death. About three years later, we see him having left his job, now struggling to pay his bills and barely scraping by. Sam Taylor (Chris Bylsma) tries to make him reconsider being their sheriff.

CA refuses that position and finds it hard to get his mojo back. Later, he joins Albert Haven and his family for a meal. Albert offers CA some work, knowing his poor financial and mental condition. But CA still isn’t open to it. In Albert’s absence, his wife Lulia (Christine Weber) tells him about something that Albert didn’t reveal: he has hired Charles Bannon (Nick Saxton) to take care of their farmland. CA gets upset because his children died due to a fire that Charles allegedly caused by accident. However, Albert felt pity for the kid and didn’t think twice about giving him the job.

What happens to the Havens?

Although CA isn’t comfortable with Albert hiring Charles for work, he accepts Albert’s financial help. At home, things aren’t going too well for CA, either. His wife, Sara (Tiffany Cornwell), is justifiably upset about him taking money from their children’s killer’s employer. Despite the hardships, CA believes he can recover their financial losses. At night, in town, he notices Iris (Megan Hensley) struggling to hold her composure. He learns that she is going to get married to Jarvis (Joseph Bezenek). They don’t see eye to eye with each other. Paired with CA’s fondness for Iris, Jarvis is ready to fight CA if needed.

About two months later, Sam tells CA that the County Commission has voted him the new sheriff, even though CA said he doesn’t want the post. They discuss how they haven’t heard from Albert in a while. Sam recalls a story he heard about a man visiting Albert’s house. Instead, this man met Charles, who told him to enter the cellar to meet Albert. So, the man got spooked and left. After hearing that, CA goes to check on the Havens and finds it wrecked. He notices the food on the table is stale and rotting. Suddenly, Charles spooks him and says that Havens left home a month ago. But Charles’ strange behavior is enough for CA to suspect Charles has done something terrible.

Does Charles get arrested?

End of the Rope (2023) Movie Review & Ending Explained
A still from End of the Rope (2023)

CA decides to take matters into his own hands and checks if the Havens really left somewhere by train. He tries to find out if they are alive somewhere else. With Sam’s help, he tries to find proof of Charles’ connection to the Havens’ disappearance. He finds a letter that proves that Charles attended a deal for Havens. Usually, Albert attended it. So, CA and Sam go to Havens’ house to check on Charles. But they can’t find him. So, they go meet Charles’ mother to find out where he is. She says so many things but reveals nothing. Instead of sharing any information about her son’s whereabouts, she calls them out for trespassing.

While CA & Sam do their best to find Charles, the villagers make a scene outside the station that doesn’t help in finding Charles in any way but brings attention to their excessive showcase of concern. Luckily, CA finds Charles and brings him back to the station. Even while in prison, Charles responds smugly to CA’s questions. The day after Charles’ arrest, his mother arrives with a lawyer to make him write a letter that will prove him not guilty of the crime. He offers a map where CA & Sam can find the dead bodies. They reach this place to find the dead bodies of five Barron family members.

End of the Rope (2023) Movie Ending Explained:

Does Charles Bannon confess his crime?

The villagers get collectively angry over the inaction in the case of the disappearance of the Havens. Jarvis and his gang decide to take the matter into their own hands and do what they think is right with Charles. So, before anything tragic happens, CA sneaks Charles to a different location. Jarvis and his men get angry at Sam for doing this behind their backs. Meanwhile, CA beats Charles and makes him confront his crimes. Then, Charles starts weeping and confesses to having killed the Havens.

By night, a group of masked villagers arrive outside the jail CA brings Charles. They break into the place and start beating CA. Then, they drag Charles outside and take him to a nearby bridge to hang him by a rope. Charles starts crying and pleads for his life. But the villagers show him no mercy. A masked woman pushes him down the river, which leads to his death. After this horrifying incident, Sam expects CA to speak against the villagers for the attack. But instead, CA decides to stay silent on this matter. He leaves his post of sheriff and returns to his usual life. To this day, no member of the mob who lynched Charles has been identified.

End of the Rope (2023) Movie Review:

Western dramas often rely on the power of their visuals and sound design. In a setting often filled with wide landscapes and extreme silence, there is enough potential for a film that can stand out on its technical abilities. “End of the Rope” is admirable in this regard. Cinematographer Alvah Holmes captures imposing compositions that can keep you hooked to the screen on their own. Besides, the color palette doesn’t seem excessively sepia-tint-soaked, either. So, the best thing about the film is Holmes’s impressive work. But the worst thing about the film is that Holmes’s work is the only good thing about it!

There is nothing else that can redeem “End of the Rope” from being a slog to get through. It has a 2-hour-15-minute runtime, and it feels overlong. It heavily relies on the details of the original story and builds an overt drama based on caricaturish character writing. The true story must have been harrowing to witness at the time. However, that doesn’t give this film a clean pass. For the most part, it is badly performed, poorly written, and edited. Some cast members perform as if they are trying to imitate Matthew McConaughey! The script is flooded with points that add nothing substantial to the point of the film and are stretched beyond necessity.

“End of the Rope” could have benefited from a tighter script, character arcs that didn’t rely on cliches and direction that didn’t exaggerate the display of emotions.

Read More: The 15 Best Westerns of the 21st Century

Trailer:

End of the Rope (2023) Movie Links: IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes, Letterboxd
End of the Rope (2023) Movie Cast: Joseph Gray, Chris Bylsma, Nick Saxton, Joseph Bezenek, Megan Hensley, Tiffany Cornwell, Charles O’Haver, Christine Weber, Vanessa Gamble, Mike McNeil, Craig Roath, Miles Barnum, Cameron Goebel, Al Saks, Brian Brady, Angela Schnaible, Kayli Stranger, Angela Dagman
End of the Rope (2023) Movie Genre: Mystery & Thriller/Crime/Drama | Runtime: 2h 19m
Where to watch End of the Rope

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