How It Ends Review.
“When Will It End” would be more fitting!
Post apocalypse/end of the world flicks are perhaps some of my favorite films. Due to the B movie nature of this genre, the bar does not have to be set to high for me to walk away satisfied. With that being said – How It Ends is perhaps the most boring apocalypse since Hell Comes to Frogtown.
How to End the World.
All the great films in the post apocalypse genre share a few basic ingredients:
Visuals: The camera should tell as much of the story as the dialogue.
Character Development: How the events do/don’t change the central character’s humanity, and how they struggle with that is central. Having a cast that can portray this is huge.
Hope: If there’s no hope in the story we are into Dystopian territory.
How It Ends builds the foundation for all these themes but either fails to execute or abandons them altogether. I am not aware of the production process with the film outside of the script surfacing on Blacklist in 2010. However it really feels that the message of this film got lost along the way here. What we get is a film unwilling to embrace the central themes of the story.
How it Ends (2018)
The story kicks of with Will (Theo James) and Samantha (Kat Graham), a couple discovering that they have a baby on the way. Theo leaves their home in Seattle to go to Chicago to ask Samantha’s father, Tom (Forest Whitaker) a former marine, for his permission to have her hand in marriage. Predictably their relationship is contentious at best, and they have a blowout over dinner and Will is asked to leave.
The following morning Will wakes up hung over, late for his flight, and with his Fiance giving him shit on Facetime about his actions at dinner the prior night. Almost mercifully, the apocalypse begins, and the power is cut off in the west, and Will loses contact with Samantha after she declares that something is happening and is scared. Will Makes it to the airport and the unexplainable power outage hits Chicago, effectively cancelling his flight and only way home.
Will makes his way back to Tom’s high-rise apartment and is still quite clueless that things are seriously wrong despite F-22’s flying by a major metropolitan area. Tom Know’s shit is getting real and is already beginning preparations to rescue his only child, he has “only one question: are you coming with me?” (groan) and they embark on the shittiest road trip ever.
The Road to Nowhere.
Will and Tom encounter a variety of trouble on the open road that leads them to their third member Ricki (Grace Dove). A mechanic on an Indian reservation that want’s to get to California for unexplained reasons, she agrees to join them.
Following this we are forced to sit through several pointless pit stops for “supplies” that doesn’t do anything to advance the plot. I get it, it’s the apocalypse and you need to scavenge and resupply. But lets be real here: if you are worried about your daughter/fiance you aren’t farting around for 5 days stopping at every opportunity. I drove from Texas to New Hampshire with my buddy in two days with a case of water, a bag of pork skins, and Slim Jims.
This is one of the major points the film falters at: the backbone of the story is based on the road trip, it’s supposed to be a bonding session between Tom and Will but it never materializes. All we get is a begrudging respect, at best. Some of this is due to the screen writing but the performances are also absolutely terrible. Forrest Whitaker seems to be sleep walking through this project and Theo James, while he looks the part, does not belong here. He shows no range in emotions, and is completely unconvincing.
Despite the title “How It Ends” there is no explanation on how it, umm, ends. It’s reminicent of Cloverfield but lacks the bite or visceral chaos that Cloverfield had going for it. The little information we receive is from unreliable radio transmissions that all claim they have no idea what’s going on.
However, Will does not give a shit about what is going on in the world outside of saving Sam and the film takes this as permission to be vague. When confronted with possibilities in the final moments of the film, Will kinda glazes over and get’s irrationally angry when someone has a theory about what may have happened. That isn’t a huge issue in of itself if it tied into the story, but it didn’t.
Not with a Bang…
The final 15 minutes was just about the most infuriating nonsensical moment of How It Ends. It’s one of the few films that I felt that everyone involved in the project said “fuck it” lets just wrap it up, and it goes out with a rushed whimper.
How It End’s had the elements to be a solid apocalyptic film however they meandered when they should have progressed the story, and when they should have dwelled on the story director David Rosenthal decided to just call it quits and say “yeah that’s a wrap”!