In Night’s End it’s a new start for Ken Barber, a new apartment in a new city, a separation from his children which he feels is the best for them until he can get his life on track, find a new job and stay off the drink. Trying to reinvent himself as an internet sensation, a self-styled self-help guru, he has yet to find his niche or his audience, shooting in the dark and hoping to be a hit.
His best friend Terry Gilson suggesting that ghost channels are where the money is, inspired by a stuffed bird falling off a shelf apparently of its own volition in the background one of Ken’s videos, Ken investigates his turn-of-the-last-century domicile and discovers there was a death in the apartment in 1915, a young woman who he swiftly comes to suspect still haunts the rooms.
The opening night film of the FrightFest strand at the 2022 Glasgow Film Festival, Night’s End is directed by Jennifer Reeder from a script by Brett Neveu, principally told through the eyes of the reclusive shut-in Ken (Geno Walker), supported from afar by his friend Terry (Felonius Munk) and ex-wife Kelsey (Kate Arrington) and her ebullient new husband Isaac (Michael Shannon).
Ken understandably disturbed by the noises he is hearing and his ectoplasmic projectile vomiting, he arranges a virtual audience with Ghosts and Their Personas author Colin Albertson (Lawrence Grimm) who offers guidance on the construction of a spirit jar which he guarantees can trap the lingering manifestation of Roberta Wellwood (Morgan S Reesh), but instead it is Ken who is overwhelmed, this time by death rather than by life.
A simple production involving only one principal set, the supporting cast present only via video calls, there are indications Night’s End might have been played better as a comedy, Albertson’s arch online persona and undisguised manipulation drawing the potentially interesting exploration of a man trying to reinvent and heal himself with the indulgence of his overenthusiastic friends regardless of the unsuitability of the course he has chosen to a parade of things that persistently go bump in the night.
Closer to the lockdown created Host which believed watching other people pretending to be scared is scary itself rather than The Cleansing Hour, screened during FrightFest’s last visit to Glasgow, Night’s End chooses not to develop the underlying premise of isolation and the susceptibility of those without anchor to the lure of internet “experts” and their obvious scams, offering instead cheap theatrics which play to the audience who follow “ghost channels,” blind to the unquestioning credulity which allows them to be exploited.