Rating: 3 out of 5.

Heading to horror streaming service Shudder, Night’s End is a creepy exorcism-gone-wrong horror flick that manages to break free of the monotonous mold of similar movies. Like 2020’s The Cleansing Hour (which also came to Shudder), Night’s End at least tries something new to mix up the formula. To call the film “hellish” would be an understatement, so for the religious zealots, this one may not be for you.

In an effort to get a fresh start in life, Ken (Geno Walker) relocates far away from his children, to a distant apartment building. Hoping to get monetized by YouTube and working from home, Ken quickly realizes that going viral is easier said than done. When Ken’s pal, Terry (Felonius Munk), notices a taxidermied bird falling from a shelf in the background of a video Ken films, the duo become obsessed with the idea that Ken’s new apartment could be host to a supernatural entity! With plastic sheets hanging and newspaper plastered over the walls, director Jennifer Reeder needn’t go the extra mile for creepiness, but she does anyway. Shots are framed with ghostly figures lurking around every corner. As the frequency of the chills becomes relentless, Ken soon agrees to be subject in an exorcism for Dark Corners, another YouTube channel that specializes in the occult.

Once one gets over the fact that swaths of Night’s End are set over a Zoom-like video call style, the grip it may develop over the viewer will be palpable. The addition of a paranormal researcher who quite literally wrote the book on this, named Colin Albertson (Lawrence Grimm), is important given that he remains one of the only people to believe everything Ken has confessed to seeing. A murder in the apartment, recurring nosebleeds, strange noises, and axe-wielding fiends weigh over Ken’s psyche, causing him to question reality. Will a spirit jar be his absolution from this horror, and grant the YouTube ghost story monetization of Ken’s dreams, or will Ken’s experience morph into a living nightmare?

The climax is simultaneously the stunning peak of the horrors, and also the source of major frustration. It features a super annoying video-glitching with a strobing effect that simply drove me crazy. That this whole section is host to the scariest visuals Night’s End has to offer makes it doubly groan-worthy. At times, the CGI is distractingly poor, and a small bit of the acting leaves something to be desired. Still, the good most assuredly outweighs the bad. The ending is dour and tragically entertaining enough to work. I would still love to know how they nabbed Michael Shannon for this fun little indie pic! Night’s End brings new meaning to “going viral.”

Night’s End opens up its spirit jar at the 2022 FrightFest Glasgow, and for viewers everywhere when it premieres exclusively to Shudder on Thursday, March 31st.

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