You don’t need an elaborate premise to make a genuinely (if somewhat tame) scary movie, and director Jennifer Reeder‘s “Night’s End” is a terrific example of that. This simple story of an anxious loner who moves into a haunted apartment feels different and original, even if you’ve heard it all before. It’s nuanced in a way that makes the audience feel the lead character’s crippling angst and isolation, which makes for an effective genre thriller about one man’s battle against demons both outer and inner.
Ken (Geno Walker) is recently divorced and alone, passing the time making web videos for his small number of followers. He is a strange fellow who is tidy and meticulous to a fault, obviously living with undiagnosed OCD. There’s a precision to his day-to-day routine, be it stretching his back, lovingly caring for his plants, or working on his taxidermy hobby.
Ken is a weird one for sure, storing dead bats and birds in his freezer, right next to the stacks of microwave dinners. One night, an eagle-eyed viewer notices something strange in the background of Ken’s latest web episode, speculating that he must have moved into a haunted apartment.
It’s a fun idea for a horror film, and the script dives right into the ghost angle. Characters don’t question the idea that the place is haunted, and Ken is so calm and nonchalant about what’s really happening. You may begin to wonder if Ken is simply seeing visions because of the abnormal amount of stress he’s under, or if he has created an elaborate hoax for web clicks. It’s clear that this is the real deal when he contacts a popular ghost hunting online host (Daniel Kyri) and hires a mysterious occult author (Lawrence Grimm) to perform an exorcism that doesn’t go exactly as planned.
The story’s climax is cleverly told through a live stream feed of the paranormal investigation and exorcism, which lends a modern realism to the story. Lights, shadows, sound, and recitation of incantations all build suspense, setting an ominous and frightening tone. Pay attention because the smallest details matter.
Writer Brett Neveu takes what sounds like a stale premise and makes it enjoyable with a well-thought-out script and story. In the end, there’s a lot of screaming and mediocre supporting performances, but “Night’s End” presents a solid horror movie that’s interesting, scary, and should please casual genre fans.