Night’s End (2022) [Female Filmmaker Friday]

Geno Walker as Ken – Night’s End – Photo Credit: Abbi Chase/Shudder

A shut-in who has been living alone and looking for work with stress at high level believes he may have a spirit in his apartment. After seeking help, things go from bad to worse. 

Written by Brett Neveu and directed by Jennifer Reeder, Night’s End makes the most of the pandemic we were all in by having each actor alone in a room, speaking to each other through video calls. Only two of them show up together constantly and it turns out the actors are together off screen. The film takes this limitation of not being able to have people film in the same space for a while and tries to make the most of it. The idea of having a shut-in as a lead is great for this set-up and having everyone on video chat feels very much of the moment. The story around this is pretty basic with a potential haunting, a man trying to find resources to get rid of said potential haunting, and then things go sideways. The story in and of itself is fairly basic and plays very much the “careful what you wish for” as well as “more than he bargained for” tropes. The problem here is that it’s all a bit bland. The film gave an impression of being much more. It’s also not scary to someone who sees a lot of horror, so perhaps the story will connect better with non-horror fans and give then a jolt, but for those who know and love the genre, the few apparitions, the jump scares, and the “twist” at the end are not enough to even give a little bit of goosebumps.  

The cast here do decently well, their performances are good, but feel quite limited. Of course, the setting does limit them. The film stars Geno Walker as Ken, the shut-in. His work here is decent, he shows the sadness and desperation of being unemployed and a bit stuck in your ways. His work here shows how someone can go into a rut and get stuck, until something extraordinary forces them out of the rut. His work sets the tone for a lot of the film and it’s good, but it doesn’t come off as great. Playing his best friend Terry who is often seen on the computer screen for a video chat is Felonious Munk, playing his ex is Kate Arrington, her new husband is played by Michael Shannon, and then we get people who come into play later on. Everyone is decent, but none of it great and none of it atrocious, so it’s just in the middle of the road acting territory and it eventually becomes a bit bland almost. 

The effective part of the film is definitely how they did the most of the pandemic and shot with everyone in different locations and gave it the look of video chat. However, it’s a wonder as to where these people live, given how much false pixelating/artifacting is added to their video feeds. Really, these days, most video chats do not look that bad, even a few seconds at a time. This was a quite frustrating aspect to the images. The way the video chats would glitch or get pixelated, it was just something that takes the viewer out it. This may have been done to show that the haunting was also affecting communications, but there was not logical pattern to indicate this.  

The film does boast some decent, albeit low budget looking in some spots, special effects. Seeing Anthony J Kosar in the special effects credits shows that the filmmaker knew where to get talent and some great practical effects. The visual effects is where things get a bit muddier, or less clear. The visual effects do add at times here, but they also diminish some of the scenes they are added to.  

Night’s End feels a bit like a run-of-the-mill haunting story that was adapted to shooting in a pandemic and thus to shoot with the actors in different rooms. There are a few good ideas in here, but the execution comes off a bit bland. The cast is talented, but in a lot of scenes they seem to be sleepwalking through their lines or just not fully understanding the concept. Something feels like it’s missing throughout the film and then the twist comes and it’s not even surprising, it’s like “ah, yes, of course, a twist.” The film will work much better for those who do not watch a lot of horror and those with great patience for fake glitches and pixelation.  

Night’s End is available exclusively on Shudder.