Release date: Friday 13th, Available now on Netflix
An end-of-the-world film which puts its Netflix-fuelled budget to good use, How It Ends is an apocalyptic film unlike anything you’ve seen. Entertaining and intriguing, the mysterious events will keep you watching, but you’ll be left feeling unfulfilled by this film which promised big things.
This apocalyptic film follows Will (Theo James), and his pregnant wife Sam (Kat Graham), who live in Seattle. Will is visiting her parents in Chicago when everything goes downhill. The power goes down and flights are grounded; There is no way for Will to contact Sam, who is on the West coast where a ‘seismic event’ is reported to have hit the area. He and Sam’s dad Tom (Forest Whitaker) decide to drive 2000 miles to find Sam. Society has collapsed and their journey leads them into one conflict and threat after another, as they battle for survival.
I enjoyed many parts of this film – seeing society quickly going downhill and laws and rules going out the window is exciting; as well as this, the people Will and Tom encounter, friends and foes, all add something to the story and increase the tension. Threats lie around every corner, which makes for exciting viewing, and the film does a good job of introducing an infectious paranoia around everyone they meet. How It Ends presents a really well-imagined but mysterious apocalypse. It is the film’s best feature: the paranoid communities, crazy survivalists and widespread destruction and general devastation this mysterious apocalypse has caused are what brings this film to life.
The issue with How It Ends is that in the apocalyptic scenario they have created, it feels like there were more exciting viewpoints to see it from. Original it may be, but the long-distance-drive-during-the-end-of-the-world isn’t as exciting as other films set in similar situations. Don’t get me wrong, they make the most of it; there’s car chases, shootouts, flipped cars and explosions; all of which make this film a great visual spectacle, but it’s not enough to sell this story to me.
In general, the film looks great. A random drive through some stunning scenery with mountains and trees and a lake is testament to that, but simultaneously these scenes take us away from the terror and thrills that are occurring everywhere else, which is what we want to see.
When you see the devastation everywhere else, you find yourself thinking: what happened there? Why couldn’t we have seen how that happened? You can’t help but think they would’ve been a more interesting tale to tell than the one they’ve chosen to show us. Driving around during the end of the world hasn’t been shown before, and there’s a reason for that: more exciting things are happening elsewhere. As a result, it seems this is a story that didn’t need to be told.
Most of the threats faced by Will and Tom see them escape unscathed, and it just seems way too easy. Travelling 2000 miles is no small feat, but it seems to fly past. As for the ending – if you can call it that – it has so much promise, but lets us down again. I’ll leave you to make your own judgements, but it didn’t do it for me.
How It Ends is an original and tense film that will intrigue those who have a passion for apocalyptic films. Many elements let it down however and whilst well-imagined, more creative and absorbing ideas are out there. Not Netflix’s finest effort.
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