Review: By Night’s End (2020)
By Night’s End is the second film I’ve reviewed in as many days involving a female with a military background and PTSD who’s forced to defend herself against a gang searching for valuables. I’m not sure if this and The Doorman arriving at the same time is coincidence or the start of a trend. What I do know is that this is an enjoyable thriller.
Heather (Michelle Rose, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Zombieland: Double Tap) and Mark (Kurt Yue, The Hate U Give, Venom) have just moved into their new home. Which is kind of odd because he’s out of work, and usually you want two incomes to get a mortgage. Heather isn’t feeling secure about her gig either. There’s shady stuff going on at her job, but for obvious reasons, she can’t quit. Financial issues don’t seem to be their only problem, however.
They wake up to find an intruder. Parker (Carlos Aviles, Slaw, Triple 9) in the house. Heather, who is ex military, shoots him when he reaches for his gun. But not before he offers her $10,000 to let him walk away. Mark figures if whatever he was after was worth that kind of money, they should be the ones to find it. He convinces her to wait an hour before they call the police so they can look. Unfortunately, as they’re looking for it, Moody (Michael Aaron Milligan, Dead by Midnight (11pm Central), Hell on the Border) and his gang are searching for Parker. They’re going to wish they just called 911 right away.
And that right there is the huge problem with By Night’s End. There was no reason not to call the cops, say they shot an armed intruder, and look afterwards. So, the film hinges on one, not just bad, but downright stupid even by action movie standards, decision. But I’m used to dubious decision in these films and pushed on.
That turned out to be a good decision because By Night’s End does get better. Moody and the police both show up, and we get to find out just how ruthless the villains are. We also get the idea whatever it is they’re looking for worth a hell of a lot more than $10,000.
Writer/director Walker Whited builds the suspense as Moody and his boys try to get into the house. Heather uses her training to keep them at bay, but she and Mark are outgunned. Worse, her PTSD keeps giving her flashbacks/anxiety attacks, which threaten to give the bad guys the upper hand.
It doesn’t help that the two of them can’t stop squabbling about personal issues, either. If you pay attention during the early part of the film, you can guess what the main one is. It, like Heather’s PTSD, is a bit of a cliché. The script gets some mileage out of them, especially the PTSD angle. But the recriminations over their daughter slows things down during the film’s midsection more than it helps.
The action scenes are solid for a low budget film. Several of the cast, including Rose, are primarily stunt people, which helps By Night’s End’s fights scenes. There’s a short but impressive one under the house between Rose and Troy Faruk who has worked on Logan and Godzilla: King of the Monsters among others.
This is an enjoyable low budget action/thriller that benefits from a good cast and some nice cinematography. That includes a long continuous take of Heather making her way through the house while avoiding the gang.
DarkCoast will release By Night’s End to digital platforms Oct. 6th. You can check the film’s Facebook page for more information.