“Night’s End” struggles to find a balance between old-school horror and new-age technological trends. And we also have Ken’s anxiety issues, which rather seems like a step taken to make the film more relatable to present times. However, none of these achieves any outcome, and what we have is a hotchpotch horror film.
‘Night’s End’ Plot Summary
Ken Barber (Geno Walker) lives alone in an apartment after his drinking habit cost him his job and separated him from his family. He is trying to make money out of YouTube videos. But soon, supernatural occurrences start taking a toll on his already anxiety-struck mental health. He reaches out to a paranormal researcher Colin Albertson (Lawrence Grimm). But for Albertson, Ken is the pathway to his innermost desire as he aims to usher in an age of torment into this world.
Major Spoilers Ahead
Ken’s position could be compared to what we felt during the COVID lockdown. His only means of communicating with his friends is via video calls. And after losing his job, two years ago, to be specific (the same time around which lockdown was imposed worldwide), he has taken to creating YouTube videos. So, in many ways, Ken is just another one of us trying to cope with the lockdown and its negativity. His anxiety, too, is probably a result of the lockdown itself.
It is clear that Ken’s ex-wife Kelsey (Kate Arrington) got married to Isaac (Michael Shannon) sometime in the two years after Ken’s “nervous breakdown.” But Ken is still connected to Kelsey and is on good terms with Isaac. However, he doesn’t allow his anxious side to be revealed to her because he doesn’t want her to think that he has taken to drinking, which was probably why they broke up in the first place. He stresses the fact that he isn’t drunk both to Kelsey and to Terry, as if to convince himself too. Convincing oneself is the only way out when you are living all by yourself with no one beside you who will listen to what you have to say (physical presence plays a significant role, and no amount of video calling can replace it). Ken does the same when he experiences paranormal occurrences. He tries to tell himself that they aren’t real (counting from 10 to 1).
However, the film introduces Ken’s issues only to disregard them by the end of “Night’s End.”
Loneliness and Its Fears
Staying alone can affect the mind in different ways. We all must have felt weirdly scared at some point in our lives when we had to stay at home all by ourselves. And for someone like Ken, who is suffering from anxiety, his family (his daughters) would have been a lot of help. But that isn’t the case. He has taken to his habit of researching birds post-death. There is an underlying horror element in this, which perhaps might have led him to his paranormal experience, or so we feel. Dead birds are a symbol of an unsafe place and bring grief and hopelessness. So it might have just been used as a symbol in the film too.
A Vague Past
As per Ken’s research, in 1915, 19-year-old Roberta Wellwood died after falling out of the window of the same apartment after attacking her father with an axe. Apparently, the father survived. However, later, it is revealed by Albertson that her soul is actually the one that is stuck in the apartment, and it is her mother’s soul that is haunting Ken. Her name is Yvonne Wellwood, and she was the one who pushed Roberta out of the window out of rage after her failed axe attack on her father. After Yvoone confessed to the murder, she committed suicide. And since then, her soul has been stuck in a loop, repeating the same tragic event again and again. However, Yvonne’s story seems to be a hoax made up by Albertson only to give Ken the impression that he is trying to help him.
The Devil’s Play
Clearly, we get to see a version of the devil here. And the spirit jar sent to Ken by Albertson is his own means of bringing the devil into this world. However, we do not know how Albertson realizes that the ghost haunting Ken is the devil, the Etsa Talakel. It might be that the white ribbon was some way for Albertson to be certain that he was right. But we don’t know for sure. The film is vague in its connections between the ghosts in Ken’s apartment and Albertson’s Etsa Talakel. At the end of the film, we see Albertson successfully welcome the corrupt and holy Etsa Talakel, who seems to have taken over Albertson’s human form.
“Night’s End” Ending Explained: Who Is Etsa Talakel?
In many ways, the pandemic or, instead, its effects have become permanent or rather ever-lasting. With work-from-home becoming the new norm, many companies around the world have provided their workers with lifetime work-from-home opportunities. While this does sound nice, it has certainly trapped many of us within the four walls of our houses. It has made us wretched to not be able to physically interact with family, friends, peers, colleagues, and schoolmates. Meetings and classes on Zoom and Google Meet have become more prevalent than ever. Isolation is no more being alone, but being inside our houses. “Night’s End” seems to have taken this scenario and turned it into a torment, giving it the form of a devil.
When Ken walks out of his apartment building, we see all the other buildings in his neighborhood glowing with the same golden light, signifying that Talakel, or the torment of isolation, has taken over them too.
With its short run-time, “Night’s End,” touches only vaguely upon serious issues like anxiety and isolation. It makes use of both of these to create a new form of evil that shall torment all those who have been accustomed to staying indoors. However, the film is not convincing in that it isn’t able to give the necessary seriousness to the issues it tries to showcase. What remains is a film with an abrupt ending, which, rather than giving shivers, provides more shrugs.
“Night’s End” is a 2022 LO-FI horror film directed by Jennifer Reeder.