“Night’s End” is an easy watch with some great scares and an explosive ending, but there’s a feeling it could have been so much more.
Jennifer Reeder is no stranger to genre cinema.
In recent years, she wrote and directed the wraparound for the well-received V/H/S/94 along with the coming-of-age thriller Knives and Skin. Her latest movie tackles some of horror’s most familiar themes.
Night’s End is about a shut-in named Ken (Geno Walker) who has moved into a haunted apartment. After failed attempts to capture the ghost, he speaks with an exorcist. Things take a horrific turn.
Reeder’s last two films have an incomplete feel to them. ‘Holy Hell’ is intercut in between the segments in V/H/S/94, so it has an excuse. Knives and Skins is a different matter.
Almost every movie that takes place in a small town is compared to Twin Peaks. Knives and Skin falls into this category. The difference is, that the comparison there is a good one.
Filled with oddball characters and stories, Knives and Skin does feel like the David Lynch classic. Unfortunately, it also introduces more than it is able to handle.
Night’s End is a more toned-down affair.
The cast has only a handful of characters and almost all of the action takes place in the apartment. It also tells a streamlined story.
The film opens by giving insight into Ken’s life. His strict eating habits and daily routines let the audience know Ken is a creature of habit. He has no contact with the outside world and only communicates over his computer.
Night’s End has the look of other pandemic movies — and to be fair, the film was filmed during the lockdown — but it has a different feel. It doesn’t feel like the story is forced to work around things. Everything comes off naturally.
Just because it has a more holistic feel does not mean that it is a good thing, however.
Ken has an interesting build; his food is meticulously labeled and his windows have been taped over. His apartment reflects the abode of a recluse who has given up on the world. But Night’s End never does anything with this. Instead, it is quickly and randomly explained in seconds why Ken has chosen to live the way he does.
The rest of the characters do not fare better.
Michael Shannon succeeds in injecting life into his character, but the rest are just people on a computer screen. Lawrence Grimm is great as over the top occultist Colin Albertson, but there is no definition given to the others.
Night’s End has to rely on horror to keep audiences engaged.
This is not a bad thing and has been the modus operandi for the genre for decades.
Reeder does a great job of keeping people on board. At first, the scares are subtle — an object dropping in the background or a barely visible figure in the corner. Those watching will constantly be looking everywhere to catch sight of something amiss.
As the plot progresses, the scares become less subtle. This leads to an over-the-top ending that is a lot of fun and sees Ken come full circle.
It is a breezy watch, but true to Reeder’s past, there is still the feeling that something is missing.