Night's End - New Release Review
Director: Jennifer Reeder
Starring: Geno Walker, Felonious Munk, Kate Arrington, Michael Shannon, Lawrence Grimm
Written by: Brett Neveu
Produced by: Neal Edelstein, David E. Tolchinsky, Brett Neveu
Cinematography by: Christopher Rejano
Original Score By: CoastalDives
An anxious shut-in moves into a haunted apartment, hiring a stranger to perform an exorcism which quickly takes a horrific turn.
It’s always a highly difficult task to make a single location horror film work and the list of great ones are extremely short. ‘Night’s End’ definitely isn’t on that list. It’s a decent concept that wants to highlight some delicate topics but sadly it just never gets going.
Obviously filmed during the height of the global pandemic, ‘Night’s End’ tells the story of Ken Barber, a late 30 something former alcoholic who has moved to a new apartment and is struggling with anxiety. We learn that he is unemployed and is still getting over the breakup of his marriage from Kelsey, the mother of his children with whom he still has a close friendship. Ken spends most of his day recording self-help vlogs as a way to pay it forward but also as a bid to earn some much needed income. The official synopsis for the film greatly oversells the plot and folks wanting to see a haunted house/demon exorcism scarefest will be insanely underwhelmed.
After his friend Terry notices a stuffed bird spontaneously fall off the wall in the background of his latest vlog, Ken decides to consider the idea that his new apartment might be haunted. After further investigation he begins to unfold the history behind a mysterious crime that happened in his building and he believes there may be a ghost living with him. Ken takes advantage of this new discovery and turns his attention away from self-help vlogs to focus on paranormal videos, which in turn sees his channel get more traction.
Geno Walker who plays Ken has a lot to do here and unfortunately I think the task of carrying an entire film on his shoulders, especially in such an intimate way, just gets too much for him. Obviously the lone setting does him no favours and it doesn’t help that about 90% of the shots in the film are identical. In a bid to give the film more atmosphere and spooky vibes, it’s mostly all filmed in darkness or with very low lighting. It occasionally looks nice on screen but it gets a bit dull and repetitive. In fact a lot of this film gets dull and repetitive very quickly.
Clearly director Jennifer Reeder and her production team are working within the tight construct of a smallish budget and with that comes its limitations. I do applaud how they handle Ken’s anxiety issues and subsequent mental state. I preferred watching him on his own when he wasn’t interacting through a computer screen. The relationship with his former wife Kelsey is a positive inclusion but it's rather puzzling that Michael Shannon, who has top billing on most of the press releases, plays her new partner Isaac (a fairly nondescript role) who is obsessed with ghost hunting Youtubers. It felt really out of place and as supportive as they try to be to Ken it does come across as a little patronising. Ken’s interactions with his mate Terry (Felonious Munk) aren’t great either and even worse than that is when a fellow Youtuber Dark Corners is introduced to help host a live panel consisting of paranormal experts. The film nosedives pretty quickly from here on out as it focuses way too much on conversations that happen through computer screens (kind of like a bad reality TV show) and an “exorcist” who seems adamant on doing his best Jigsaw impression.
There’s a really annoying glitch editing technique added to some of the computer screen scenes that were nauseatingly irritating. I assume this was supposed to indicate some sort of dark, haunting force meddling in their business but it felt like something they just added in primarily because the film lacked any real special effects or even any scares. ‘Night’s End’ might’ve worked as a short if they cut out the relentless back and forth laptop shots but sadly I felt every second of the runtime.
- Gavin Logan
‘Night’s End’ is available to stream on Shudder from March 31st