Once again I find myself struggling to connect with the latest Exclusive and Original offerings from horror streaming platform, Shudder.
Last year I saw high calibre movies, Violation, The Dark and the Wicked, Skull, and The Boy Behind The Door really resonated with me and featured in my Top 13 Horror movies of 2021.
All of which marks a difficult run of events for Shudder this year to continue to raise the bar. Not that it has been without moments of quality thanks to the cracking home invasion movie, For the Sake of Vicious. I highly recommend this if you haven’t yet caught Reese Eveneshen and Gabriel Carrer’s movie.
March has proven a different obstacle though I’m afraid to say as Night’s End is hampered by its own ambitions through a low-budget, tightly constrained story, made through COVID times. I feel like I could be over-critical due to my expectations, as I equally want to applaud the efforts from director Jennifer Reeder who helmed the V/H/S ‘94 segment Holy Hell. The problem is that through capturing the isolation, loneliness and desperation that the protagonist Ken Barber (Geno Walker) endures at a time that he is at his lowest ebb, losing his job, and his family, it also highlights the areas that fall south in various departments, namely the evidently weak plotline and the cheap visual effects.
It’s a shame as there is a subject here that is ripe to explore in depth. Ken’s issue as a father who is on the brink of despair, at his lowest, to shed light on a social dilemma where depression and alcoholism can lead the most decent person to ruin. For it is clear that Ken has a good heart, and for whatever reason has folded under the pressures that life can take. This stigma that he now has to bear also leads those closest to him to question his sanity when certain paranormal events unfold.
It takes a wicked turn into unbelievability though when Ken starts to get online recognition through social media following and in particular an online paranormal debunker Dark Corners (Daniel Kyri). The hammy performance from spiritual medium Colin Albertson (Lawrence Grimm) also shifts the audience out of the realm of credibility. In addition, the presentation of communication by each of the characters through Ken’s computer (cyberspace) makes the world disjointed.
What Night’s End does boast however is a great performance (as always) from Michael Shannon as Ken’s ex-wife’s partner. A key supporter of Ken’s paranormal investigations and constantly delivering a high level of engagement on screen.
A bold and promising premise to be explored in a confined environment and deliver a tough subject is ultimately let down by the lack of cohesion and budget constraints to pull off the vision.
- Saul Muerte