The Movie Waffler New Release Review [Shudder] - NIGHT’S END | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review [Shudder] - NIGHT’S END

night's end review
An agoraphobe seeks help online when he discovers his apartment is haunted.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Jennifer Reeder

Starring: Geno Walker, Kate Arrington, Felonious Munk, Lawrence Grimm, Michael Shannon

night's end poster

Focussed on a single central character who never leaves their apartment and communicates with others through his laptop, Jennifer Reeder's Night's End may never reference Covid, but it's very a product of the pandemic. While lockdown era horror movies like the earlier Shudder original Host doubled down on having their action play out entirely on computer screens, Night's End finds itself caught in a no man's land, part conventional haunted house movie, part screenlife thriller.

night's end review

Like Steven Soderbergh's product of the pandemic, Kimi, Night's End features an agoraphobic protagonist. Ken (Geno Walker) has moved into a new apartment far from his ex-wife and their daughters following a breakdown that resulted in him losing his job. Refusing to leave his home, Ken orders his food from the web and naively sets about becoming a YouTube star, uploading videos on a  variety of topics from lawn care to man management, none of which he seems particularly invested in.

Ken also likes to dabble in taxidermy, and while recording one of his videos, he notices one of his stuffed birds fall from a shelf as though pushed by an invisible hand. Egged on by a friend (Felonious Monk), Ken jumps to the conclusion that his new home must be haunted. Doing some research he discovers that a woman previously committed suicide in the building. Contacting a paranormal author (nominative determinism's Lawrence Grimm) and the host of a supernatural YouTube show (Daniel Kyri), Ken is manipulated into dabbling with things best left alone.

night's end review

Initially, Reeder and Walker do a good job of establishing the rut Ken has gotten himself stuck in. His monotonous morning routine of coffee topped up with Pepto-Bismol serves as a clever way of illustrating his descent into paranoia, as the ratio of coffee to Pepto-Bismol gradually increases in favour of the latter with each passing day. Director and leading man help us get into this character's troubled mind, but once the spooky stuff kicks in the film's tone takes a turn towards cheesiness. Grimm plays his sinister author so broadly that it's difficult to buy into his character existing in the same film as Ken. Michael Shannon adds some star power as the new husband of Ken's ex-wife (Kate Arrington), but he looks directionless in his few scenes, as though they were shot at short notice in a single afternoon when he suddenly became available. His presence among a cast of otherwise relative unknowns only serves to take us out of the drama every time he appears.

Night's End is so reliant on Ken's zoom conversations that you can't help but wonder if Reeder might have been better off following the lead of Host and having her entire film play out on Ken's laptop screen. There are too many cheap storytelling shortcuts here, with characters on Ken's screen too often doling out exposition as they conveniently fill in his backstory.

night's end review

Kudos to Reeder for bucking horror tradition and giving us a male protagonist, proving that a burly bloke can generate as much empathy as a dainty babysitter. Ultimately that's the only really notable element of Night's End, a by-the-numbers haunted home thriller that descends into unintentional laughs in a climax dogged by cheap special effects.

Night's End is on Shudder from March 31st.

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