★★★ out of ★★★★★
Directed by Jennifer Reeder
There’s nothing worse than living alone in a bleak and dreary apartment. Add Covid19 and some additional isolation. That’s pretty awful. Mix in conference calls with your patronizing ex-wife, her husband, and your best pal trying to help you transition in to the next phase of your life. Well, that’s really awful. Mix in some black magic, demons from another dimension, and true ghost hunters — then you’ve got a real recipe for demonic disaster.
Since the spring of 2020, filmmakers have been forced to contend with a very real reality in the form of an unwieldy pandemic. It’s relentless, it kills, and it’s terrifying. Not unlike your run of the mill horror film. Night’s End is just that. It explores the nagging fright of isolationism all the while forcing us to confront our worst fears through the Teams, Zoom, Skype prisms. It aint pretty, but it’s the world we live in.
Night’s End follows sad-sack introvert Ken Barber (Geno Walker) as he wanders through the post-divorce minefield. As he tries to make sense of his predicament he follows the well-worn path of self-enlightenment by way of self-involved vid-casting. Ken decides to share his knowledge with the entire world — or rather 42 like-minded dads/subscribers going through divorce. Ken’s trying, but he’s also a pretty sullen dude working understand the meaning of life.
Ken is enthusiastically cajoled by his upbeat and comedic pal Terry (Felonious Munk) who virtually supports his dear pal through thick and thin. As Terry’s reviewing Ken’s latest vid-cast missive he notices one of the taxidermied birds, that Ken’s been working on in his spare time, slowly slide off the shelf in the background of his self-help video. Terry points out this oddity to Ken who quickly deduces that something must be amiss with his apartment, his outlook on life, and possibly the universe. A little research here and a little research there and Ken discovers that his apartment is…gasp…HAUNTED!
As someone who is actively trying to figure out his own lot in life Ken decides to consult anyone that will listen to his fright plight in the hopes that they’ll offer solutions. Eventually Ken’s quest leads him to a true haunt vid-cast host, Dark Corners (Daniel Kyri). Terry suggests that Ken can both find out what/who is potentially haunting him while at the same time connecting prospective viewers to his sad-dad-self-help vid-cast. Everyone’s a winner. Or are they?
What Ken unearths is something far beyond the self-help section at the book store. This is an order of a much creepier magnitude, but Ken’s determined to suss apart his foibles and make the world a better place for him and his young children. This sentiment is precisely what makes Night’s End a fascinating and compelling depiction of the modern day stresses brought to us by financial insecurity, substance abuse, the pandemic, and the inability to connect with other humans.
To be sure, Night’s End is a small budget independent feature containing some glaring issues. By leaning on some very clumsy CGI and some equally clumsy performances, Night’s End feels a little undercooked. There is definitely a modern noteworthy story in Night’s End that is almost perfectly delivered by actor Meno Walker (Ken), but some its short comings do nag at the audience. Director Jennifer Reeder certainly has an eye for horror and the things that make us collectively squirm. Here’s to hoping that she and actor Geno Walker continue down the horror trail and provide us with many more spooky haunts!
Night’s End is likely PG-13 and currently streaming on Shudder.