The Worst Ending To A Film Ever?
Netflix post-apocalyptic thriller How It Ends is one of the most frustrating films we’ve watched this year. On the one hand, the intriguing premise and sickly yellow hues hanging over almost every scene in this film make it a unique proposition, somehow carving its own place in this very busy genre. On the other hand, How It Ends is quite the appropriately named film, featuring one of the worst endings to a film released this year and a plot that’s never resolved, ending abruptly midway through an action scene in the worst possible way.
The story begins with Will (Theo James), whose journey to fatherhood with pregnant fiance Samantha (Kat Graham) is dampened by a strained relationship with his future father-in-law Tom (Forest Whitaker). When a sudden unexplained blackout throws America into chaos, Will finds himself stuck on the other side of the country away from Samantha. With communications down across the country and unexplained phenomena including radio interference, crazy birds and more complicating matters, Will reluctantly joins Tom as they begin a perilous journey across America to find Samantha and make sure she’s safe.
While the plot itself is serviceable enough, the longer this 110 minute film drags on, the more incredulous and nonsensical the whole affair becomes. Despite only 5 days passing, America reverts to a post apocalyptic wasteland devoid of life, cities lie under thick blankets of ash for reasons unknown and a state of martial law hangs over other parts of the country. With no explanation for why any of this is occurring and one of the worst endings in quite some time, it’s difficult to recommend How It Ends to anyone. To be fair, there’s a vague explanation late on for what the purpose of this film really was in the form of a brief dialogue exchange but it feels more of a cop-out than providing actual answers to what’s going on.
What caused the blackouts? Who’s responsible? Why are the army remaining tight lipped? What’s with the radio chatter? Why is there crazy weather phenomena across the country? If you find yourself confronted by any of these questions, prepare yourself for a mighty disappointing 2 hours. None of these questions are answered and worse, the lack of a conclusive ending given just further exacerbates these problems.
There’s some seriously questionable cinematography in this film too. While every scene being bathed in a sickly yellow hue on its own would be fine, coupled with large shadows and indecipherable action sequences shot in the dead of night, How It Ends makes for quite the unappealing aesthetic. It’s not helped either by the sound mixing which is truly woeful at times. During action sequences the sound effects are so loud they drown out the dialogue and music making it difficult to work out exactly what characters are trying to say. This happens regularly enough to make for quite the frustrating watch at times, having to continuously shift the volume up and down during these segments.
Up until the halfway point, How It Ends feels like a standard, by-the-numbers post apocalyptic thriller with a unique premise about a blackout. Unfortunately it’s all downhill from here as the film seemingly runs out of ideas, falling back on stock post apocalyptic tropes and an abundance of unexplained questions, all culminating in one of the most frustrating endings to a film in recent memory. While there are redeeming features here and some of the acting is pretty good, it’s too difficult to ignore the incredulous ending and lack of closure to a story that quickly derails and never recovers. Is How It Ends the worst film released this year? It shouldn’t be but the ending alone is enough to make it a very strong contender for that crown.