dir. Jennifer Reeder
Shut-in movies have – for obvious reasons – become more common post-COVID, and the horror genre is a natural home for them; they can be particularly effective when characters feel unable to leave their safe space, even after it has been invaded by a hostile entity.
Delving into ‘lockdown horror’, the new film from Jennifer Reeder is a much more contained affair than some of her previous work. Her last feature, Knives and Skin (2019), also screened at FrightFest and – though it was ambitious and had its defenders – was a fairly tedious high school mystery. But Night’s End succeeds where that film failed, as if Reeder has been able to anchor her voice more in this exploration of physical isolation and online connections. It’s certainly a lot more fun to watch.
Geno Walker is extremely watchable as Ken, an agoraphobic amateur YouTuber who finds himself in the middle of an escalating ghost story. Ken maintains online relationships with friends, including his ex-wife (Kate Arrington) and her new partner (Michael Shannon, in a small but characteristically scene-stealing turn), and with internet ghost hunters (Theo Germaine, Daniel Kyri and the amusing Lawrence Grimm) who either help or hinder his supernatural situation depending on their own agendas.
Moments of absurd levity could have jarred against the intense vibe, but in Reeder’s hands they pay dividends, the result being not too dissimilar to the superb Host (2020), though with its low-budget credentials even more on its sleeve.
Creepy moments too are effective, from haunting glimpses of ghostly activity to Ken’s own destructive, obsessive behaviours, before building to a brilliant – and surprisingly grandiose – finale.