Coming soon to Shudder is Night’s End from writer Brett Neveu (“The Earl”, “Exit, Clowny! (Short)”) and director Jennifer Reeder (“Knives and Skin”, “Signature Move”).
The movie centres around Ken Barber, Geno Walker (“Chicago Fire (TV)”, “Later Days”), an agoraphobic, or as this movie seems to want to call him, a “shut-in”. Ken moves into a new apartment, just one of two in his block, the other one being empty.
Ken has recently separated from his wife Kelsey, Kate Arrington (“Mare of Easttown (TV)”, “The Irishman”), who now lives with Isaac, Michael Shannon (“Knives Out”, “The Shape of Water”), and Ken’s daughters (whom you never see).
We learn that Ken has had a drinking problem in the past, coupled with a breakdown. He now lives alone in his apartment, with newspaper over the windows, going about his daily routine of drinking Pepto Bismol in coffee, eating tomato soup for lunch and working on his taxidermy birds.
His contact with others comes via video calls from his laptop which are to his ex-wife or his friend Terry, the wonderfully named Felonious Munk (“For Life (TV)”, “Easy (TV)”). It’s during a call to Terry that something strange happens in the background when one of Ken’s dead birds mysteriously takes a nosedive off a shelf.
From here on in strange things begin happening and Ken learns that, many, many years ago, a young girl called Roberta Wellwood was killed in his apartment and it seems she is still hanging around.
So far, so horror, everything is as you’d expect; dark scenes, jump scares, creepy noises, apparitions in the background etc. But then things take a turn for the bizarre. Firstly Ken contacts Colin Albertson, Lawrence Grimm (“Chicago Fire (TV)”, “Captive State”), whose book he has been using to create a ‘spirit jar’ in which he’d hoped to trap Roberta.
Colin is, well, Colin is a little odd. I mean, putting aside the whole occult thing, the character is odd. I, and the people I was watching with, couldn’t decide whether the character had been written as a bit of a joke or not. It’s horror, but in a Rocky Horror Picture Show style way.
Then Isaac and Kelsey suggest Ken contact Dark Corners, Daniel Kyri (“Chicago Fire (TV)”, “Killing Eleanor”), about the strange happenings and send him the videos. Dark Corners is a popular website that compiles ghost videos and comments on them.
They all get together to perform a live-stream exorcism, or capture, on the ghost in Ken’s apartment and then things go from bizarre to, well, even more bizarre. I wish I was exaggerating when I say we were genuinely confused as to whether we were meant to be laughing or scared…
The first half of Night’s End is good. It meanders through Ken’s life and is building and building the tension and you’re getting both excited and nervous as to what’s to come. But then what’s to come arrives and it is utterly baffling.
I’m at pains to say too much and give things away if I’ve not already. Don’t get me wrong, we all understood what the makers were trying to convey, a sort of The Lawnmower Man-esq vibe at the end, but the way they went out about it just completely threw us. It drained away all the tension and horror that had been building so well and left a sort of oddness in its place, I imagine not too dissimilar to what Pepto and coffee tastes like.
31st March 2022
THE QUICK SELL
An anxious shut-in moves into a haunted apartment, hiring a stranger to perform an exorcism which quickly takes a horrific turn.