A slow-burn, slightly stodgy claustrophobic horror, new Shudder film Night’s End focuses on an anxiety-riddled man, Ken (Geno Walker), who gradually unravels as he believes his apartment may be haunted. The apartment is covered in plastic, newspapers and pilates machines, taxidermied birds – and perhaps a lady in a white dress. He conducts most of his interactions with people online, best friend (Felonius Monk), ex-wife (Kate Arrington) and new husband (Michael Shannon doing a favour for someone) and the host of a spooky online show Dark Corners (Daniel Kyri). They are worried about his plunge into nervous breakdown territory.
Details emerge about Walker’s past, his breakdown and alcohol abuse, as does information about his apartment, where an axe murder and suicide apparently took place. When stuffed birds start moving and screams are heard, he unwittingly becomes a bit of an online celebrity on a paranormal activity-exploring show. Ken enjoys the attention initially, even trying to trap the spirit with a spirit jar, but matters backfire and soon he finds himself holding an online exorcism with an occult expert, a slimy Lawrence Grimm, with unforeseen results.
It’s a talky affair, with hints of the excellent Host, as most of the action takes place on static computer screenshots. The dialogue is a little clunky as discussions of spirit jars and soul transmissions occur; there are a few jump scares, but this ultimately feels like an exploration of breakdown and isolation. The film veers throughout between whether to believe its protagonist or his concerned friends, before the more outrageous denouement. Helped by some edgy editing, Night’s End is a serviceable, swift if static horror that relies on people doing close-up scared-face acting.
Dir: Jennifer Reeder (15, 82 mins)
Streaming on Shudder now
words KEIRON SELF
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