Film Review: How It Ends (2018)

‘They managed to succeed in making the end of the world a rather dull affair’

How It Ends, 2018

Directed by: David M. Rosenthal

Starring: Theo James, Forest Whitaker, Kat Graham, Mark O’Brien

 

Will (Theo James) leaves Seattle, where his girlfriend, Sam (Kat Graham) stays, to have dinner with Sam’s dad, Tom (Forest Whitaker, Black Panther), in Chicago. The next day, while on the phone to Sam, an event happens on the east coast which shuts down the power as far as Chicago. Determined to find his daughter amidst the chaos, Tom packs up and sets off with Will on a journey through the remains of a lawless, chaotic America.

While the early parts of this film are pretty interesting (I love how the event is kept secret leaving us following the characters into the chaos), it falls away somewhere in the middle through repetitive incidents before coming to a pretty poor conclusion. It’s a pretty average family dynamic set up from the start (Will wants to ask for Tom’s permission to marry Sam, while Tom hates Will, believing him not worthy of her), but while that is uneventful, it can still be used effectively; unfortunately the tension between them doesn’t play out at all throughout their journey, instead we simply have characters with an obvious disliking but no real tension. There’s a nice moment with them talking about past events (mainly surrounding a boat which was alluded to earlier), and this would have been played off better had the tension been more evident.

How It Ends, 2

With 20-minutes shaved off the timeline and a better ending this film would have been a success in my opinion, because the middle hour of this film is full of talking and repetitive incidents of mindless violence from survivors. Each incident resolves around Will stopping, against Tom’s wishes, and then they’re in trouble; the first time it’s pretty fun but by the third time it’s unoriginal. Also it’s convenient that Will has friends in one small town and his father in another along the route at convenient points to rest and help him out.

And it unfortunately falls extremely flat at the end. Open endings can sometimes be clever; I personally loved how a lot of Cloverfield is kept quiet as we are following the characters on their story. But sometimes it doesn’t benefit the film; and How It Ends falls in that category (ironic with its title). It’s quite confusing and there’s a few scenes with a man that Will meets up with that make absolutely no sense considering the grand scheme of things (more so especially with the following minutes after an altercation) and all that really are to the detriment of the overall storytelling.

There are some elements of it that are impressive; mostly the scenery. The skylines of Seattle when Will reaches closer to it are beautiful, and really hammer home the full extent of what must have happened. And when Will rolls into Seattle it’s so dark and haunting, made all the better with the weather. Whatever happened has caused massive weather changes and they have to negotiated snow, torrential rain and hot temperatures, and these add show the full extent of what happened. It’s such a shame, though, that the ending is so poorly executed with a long, long journey before it. They managed to succeed in making the end of the world a rather dull affair.

 

Personal: * *     Acting: * *     Writing: * *     Presentation: * * *

Overall Rating: * * ¼

 

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