End Times (2023) Review
Filmed a couple of years ago as State of Desolation, End Times begins with a brief prologue showing Claire (Jamie Bernadette, 4/20 Massacre, Jurassic Domination) tied to a chair and being questioned. That’s followed by the inevitable “Three Months Earlier” text to begin the main story.
Freddie (Craig Stark, Intruder, 2001 Maniacs) has just had to shoot his zombified girlfriend. He’d have killed himself too except he’s out of bullets. Elsewhere Claire is stumbling through the remains of civilization and crosses paths with a small group of survivors led by Ciro (Dan Buran, The Big Ugly, Hellraiser: Revelations) and Alexis (Maria Olsen, Moon Garden, I Spit on Your Grave: Deja Vu). Unfortunately, they’re the kind you want to avoid, they rape her and leave her for the zombie to take care of. Which they would have if Freddie hadn’t turned up in the nick of time.
Writer/director Jim Towns (House of Bad, Ninjapocalypse) gets his take on the zombie apocalypse off to a fairly grim, if not overly original, start. The two travel together and Freddie fills her, and us, in on the history of the plague which she was too busy partying to hear about until it was too late. Now they’re both trapped in a quarantine zone with no way to escape.
The zombies are out of 28 Days Later or the Dawn of the Dead remake. Fast, strong and retaining a bit of their knowledge and personality. That makes them more of a threat than their shambling brethren. The plot however is more in line with The Walking Dead as the duo avoid zombies and run into other survivors who tend to be a bigger threat than the zombies. Especially as their first encounter is with the ones who attacked Claire.
Unfortunately, while the zombies don’t shamble, the film very certainly does. Most of End Times’ first hour consists of the pair of them wandering around and hiding from zombies rather than killing them. Yes, it’s more realistic, but it’s also less fun to watch. It’s not until close to an hour in that a zombie attack sends them fleeing down a path that eventually leads to The Garden, a seeming oasis among the desolation run by Hayden (Kaiwi Lyman, Copshop, The Mongolian Connection). he has a harem which includes Tina (Dominique Swain, Minutes to Midnight, Meteor Moon) and Deirdre (Sadie Katz, Space Wars: Quest for the Deepstar, Automation) so you know Freddie is right when he says it’s all too good to be true.
At ninety minutes, End Times would have been slow but passable. Towns smartly keeps the characters in the woods most of the time to avoid scenes with traffic in the background and other frequent problems that come from staging the End of the World without going over budget. The zombie makeup is effectively gross and while the action scenes are scarce, they’re well enough staged. But dragged out to an hour and fifty-four minutes, things get downright tedious at times.
If some of the endless wandering around had been excised from the first hour and some of the redundant scenes with the cultists in the second End Times would have flowed along much better. Instead, it frequently drags between the bursts of action. Even worse is the final fifteen or so minutes which seem to go on forever and serve no purpose beyond pretension. “The dirt, the earth, the worms. Sweet decay”
Those needing a Walking Dead fix might find End Times worth a watch, but those looking for something a little more fast paced will be disappointed.
The Asylum released End Times to select theatres, see the list below, as well as on Digital Platforms today, July 14th. You can check the film’s Facebook page for more information. You can also check with FilmTagger for similar films.
PARTICIPATING THEATERS SCREENING FROM 7/14
|Laemmle Town Center 5
|Hickory Ridge Cinemas
|O Cinema South Beach
|Miami Beach, FL