Directed by: Walker Whited
Written by: Walker Whited & Sean McCane
Starring: Michelle Rose, Kurt Yue, Michael Aaron Milligan, Carlos Aviles
BBFC Classification: 15
A short and taut little thriller, By Night’s End buckles slightly under some needless melodrama and a stunt in pace but manages to rise above these slight flaws to be a tense home invasion shocker.
Heather and Mark (Rose and Yue) have recently moved into a new house and are still settling in, dealing with the loss of their daughter, Mark losing his job and Heather looking like she might also lose hers as well. Their relationship strained and with medical bills also mounting, they face further problems when an intruder breaks into their home presumably looking for something hidden within. Being an ex-soldier, Heather bursts into action subduing the intruder and ultimately killing him when there is no other choice. Mark believing there is money stashed in their house convinces Heather to wait on calling the cops giving them time to recover the loot, as it will be an answer to their financial problems. Reluctantly she agrees but when the cash proves difficult to locate and the intruder’s “buddies” arrive demanding where he and the loot are, the couple find themselves in a dangerous stand off and way in over their heads.
A slick and tightly mounted indie thriller By Night’s End starts out the gate well establishing some tense momentum as we see the couple struggling with one another and their various issues only to be served up an even bigger problem with an unknown man entering their house. This tension is maintained well when the couple kill the intruder and a menacing associate of the dead man, Moody (Milligan), shows up demanding the hidden loot is handed over. This leads to a tense stand-off as Heather resourcefully attempts to thwart the clad-in-black psychotic criminal and hatch a plan so her and Mark aren’t implicated.
Unfortunately, the momentum isn’t sustained as the mid-section slows things down so the couple can work out some of their issues. It’s a noble attempt to flesh out character and perhaps such feelings would rise to the surface during such a time of stress but with Heather dealing with experiences during her tour in Iraq, Mark attempting to get a handle on his own inadequacies and the pair still dealing with the death of their daughter, it’s a lot to process. Michelle Rose and Kurt Yue handle it well, both showing depth and emotion, it’s just that it deadens the tense build up somewhat, making one wish it would focus more on the home invasion aspect and what the bad guys really want.
That said, By Night’s End gets right back on track for a great final third as Heather decides to fight back when Moody and his goons decide to storm the house. Heather erupts into action taking on the various bad guys in a series of well-staged and brutal fights. It’s a nice payoff after what has come before and Michelle Rose is great as the kick ass home protector. The cast are overall great with Yue particularly good as the inadequate feeling Mark and Milligan is effectively psychotically loony as the bad guy. Slickly photographed (including a bravura set-piece that sees Heather circling around and through the house avoiding the intruders and picking up weapons, all done in one take: cool!), By Night’s End is a solid home invasion thriller that benefits from a great cast, some effective tension and a great home run when the bad guys get their comeuppance.
DarkCoast will release By Night’s End onto various digital platforms Oct. 6th (Amazon, iTunes, DirecTV, FlixFling, Google Play, Vudu and AT&T).