Isolation and horror have gone hand in hand for decades. Films like The Shining, Misery, The Thing, Alien, and countless others have utilized the characters’ isolation from the outside world as a way for the horror to spread. Shudder’s latest original film, Night’s End follows in the footsteps as far as thematic elements go. However its execution is far different (not in a good way) from the aforementioned films.
Reconnecting with the World
Opening with a recently divorced vlogger named Ken, who’s in the process of getting his life back on track, Night’s End starts like any other haunted house movie. We see him going through his daily routine, making videos, connecting with people over zoom. It all begins with the makings for a decent haunted habitation thriller with an isolation twist that’s actually pretty relatable (which we’ll get to).
But a friend of his notices strange things happening in the background of his videos. This prompts Ken to go down a rabbit hole into paranormal investigation, when someone from that community promises to be able to help. Before long, he’s meeting with others online for what will prove to be a broadcast exorcism across the internet, and because this is a horror movie, disaster ensues!
Before we get into the many things wrong with this film (and unfortunately there are), let’s focus on something it did well that’s also a bit of a missed opportunity. While Night’s End doesn’t entirely take place on a computer screen (such as Unfriended or Host), it does entirely take place in one man’s apartment, and all the other characters he speaks to are on webcams in their own locations.
The movie doesn’t outright mention the global events of the last two years, but the very manner in which it’s structured feels like isolation and quarantine are at the forefront. Night’s End uses the collective trauma and isolation that we’ve all felt for the past two years, and translates it into supernatural horror. It works brilliantly on a subtextual level, even if that wasn’t the original intention.
But unfortunately this intriguing concept is lost in the shuffle of a runtime that could have been 45 minutes versus feature length, acting that feels like it was everyone’s first and only takes, and a screenplay that could have used an extra round of polishing to tighten up.
There are certainly films out there that are intentionally bad for satirical reasons, but you don’t get the sense that this is one of them. The actors aren’t really hamming it up, rather it feels like they’re reading lines off cue cards that they’ve only just seen.
To be fair, independent films can often be limited by their budget in terms of effects, shooting days, and overall production time. However, focusing solely on the negatives isn’t very productive. Rather the point of this movie is that it has a great premise involving demonic horror, and it sort of brilliantly captures how the world’s been feeling. With a bigger budget and more time, it could have been a decent horror film.
What did you think of Night’s End What are some of your favorite “bad” horror movies? Let us know in the comments!