Night's End follows an agoraphobic man who is struggling to reconnect with his life following a mental breakdown. While still connecting virtually with his friends, children, and ex-wife, he has walled himself away in an unfinished apartment with no physical or social contact with the outside world, attempting to make a living via a streaming channel of varying content. When one of his videos records an unsettling occurrence behind him, he begins to ride the line between coming to the truth of the haunting and taking advantage of the extra views it provides.
[This movie was viewed on Shudder at the time of this review.]
Night's End Review
Night's End is yet another perfect example of a film in which I should avoid any commentary before watching it for myself. It is too easy to over-hype a movie by simply reading a few reviews that give it a perfect score and a rousing ovation. Night's End became a victim of my own expectations set by my inability to glance at a few comments. On Shudder, it is particularly difficult to control the urge when the comments are just a slight scroll away, but perhaps my limited pity for this movie will draw me away from such habits in the future.
This movie has a handful of things going for it...A great lead in Geno Walker, a premise with some promise, a creepy setting, and a random cameo from Michael Shannon. But the individual successes of the movie did not sum up to something successful.
The dead giveaway that we were in for a rough time came from the first "scare". The build, punch, and overall design was sorely lacking and had no intensity from its build to its execution. My first thought was, "uh oh..." If this is what this movie is going to offer in the horror arena, I'm in for a rough 90 minutes. And unfortunately, this scene was a prophecy of things to come.
Geno Walker holds his own as the lead, who eats up a majority of the run time by himself. He is a fantastic actor that I would love to see more of in the horror realm, with perhaps better script, editing, and directing to work with. Besides his endearing friend that makes an appearance, there wasn't much else to be proud of from the performances. Even Michael Shannon felt like an extra that finally got his big break with a few lines. It was almost as if everyone recorded their reactions/conversations with Geno's character by reading the script on screen and not actually playing off the dialogue of one another. It felt robotic and disjointed, and the weirdness of the dynamics seemed to escalate, which did eventually lead me to think that maybe this was on purpose, and was simply a misjudged attempt at some Hitchcockian tension.
Director Jennifer Reeder is known more for her short film work, which is coincidentally enough, exactly what I thought this film should've been by the time the credits rolled. It lacks the depth in its story to push for a full runtime. There wasn't enough in the subplots to build substance and there wasn't enough in the main plot to justify engagement. It was a bland haunted house film at its best and a weird, disconnected commentary at its worst.
The end was just...weird. It had a decent enough progression to a climax that seemed to have more effort put into it than I had expected from the film to that point. But the acting and reactions from everyone had this awkward presence that didn't feel unsettling, it felt funny. The whole thing started to feel like it was literally failing to illicit the response it was trying to create. It felt like either a long. poorly executed joke that a friend is telling and you feel pressured to laugh, or, a scene that was supposed to be disjointedly terrifying and it just wasn't landing. By the time the big reveal is happening, I was so disconnected from the film that it had virtually no impact. I couldn't even get into the decent effects work (considering what I can only assume was a small budget).
Unfortunately, the movie never truly dives into its social commentary, or at the very least, it became muddled on whether or not we were supposed to take it seriously, or as a satire of the "online paranormal influencer" concept. The film seemed to progress further into this state of surrealism that must have been purposeful, but for some reason to me it felt incidental. There was some promise there, and some of it was realized, but for me a majority of the film fell awkwardly flat.
Recommendation: I would say pass, but if you have a Shudder subscription and are looking for something new to watch, give it a shot. It has a personality to it that may speak to you in a way it didn't with me.
Horror Rating System
Horror Qualifier: 8/10
Horror Quality: 4/10
Film Quality: 3/10