Film Review – By Night’s End (2020)

By Night’s End deserves props for not screwing around...

Home Invasion Horror is certainly its own subgenre at this point, with The Strangers and Hush being two of The Doctor’s personal favorites. When TNCC chairman Cade managed to obtain an advanced screener of By Night’s End and I had a look at the intriguing trailer, you can bet that I was on board for a viewing.

By Night’s End

Heather (Michelle Rose) and Mark (Kurt Yue) are a thirtyish couple who have recently moved into a fixer-upper home in a middle-class neighborhood of Anywhere, USA. Heather is a tortured veteran of the Iraq War, and both she and her husband are coping with career and financial difficulties as well as having recently suffered the tragedy of losing their young daughter in a car accident. And if all that shit is somehow not bad enough, their new home harbors a dangerous secret…

The home is burglarized after dark, and the tough-as-nails Michelle gets the drop on the assailant and shoots him. Before succumbing to “lead poisoning” the burglar attempts to bribe the couple with a $10,000 payoff. This leads Mark to assume that there must be money hidden inside their new house. Perhaps this is a bit of a stretch, but it does immediately start the suspense meter running, and By Night’s End deserves props for not screwing around. Mark convinces Heather to delay calling the cops for one hour while they search for whatever the burglar was looking for, and she reluctantly agrees. Well, we know this just cannot be a good idea for Heather and Mark, right?

Maybe so, but the maneuver does serve to place the viewer into the “What Would You Do” quandary which is the ultimate staple of any good suspense thriller. Honestly, what would you do in similar straits? By Night’s End makes us immediately begin to ponder that question and possibly flip-flop on our answers throughout. It isn’t too long, however, before the black clad, wisecracking Moody (Michael Aaron Milligan) and his cohorts show up looking for the mystery prize, and there is no limit to how far they are willing to go in order to get what they want. What is everyone ultimately looking for, exactly? Therein lies even more of the suspense…

I hate to rely on the overused phrase “cat and mouse game”, but that is what By Night’s End turns into, and it is a complement when it is executed as well as it is here. Heather and Mark are literally prisoners trapped inside their own house, no longer sure exactly what it is they are looking for while violent killers slip on and off their property. There is some questionable decision making on the part of the protagonists but the mystery of whatever strange, sordid tale is playing out is what matters and By Night’s End never lets up on the suspense and the shock value. There is a tense, entertaining vibe with kudos to cinematographer Philip Wages and writer/director/editor Walker Whited because By Night’s End is expertly shot and edited. The performers are all up to the task, especially Rose as the darkly haunted Heather and the energetic Milligan as Moody. What is the eventual payoff? The Doctor doesn’t give away spoilers, suffice it to say that I recommend a viewing of By Night’s End, particularly on a Saturday night here in the autumnal season when the days are growing shorter and things go bump in the night. As always, dear friends, The Doctor wishes you all a clean bill of health.

Beyond The Pod

The Doctor attended The Poughkeepsie Institute of Technical Science or, as it is colloquially referred to, The Pits. His thesis paper "It's Far to Early to Tell" has been used in classrooms as an example of how NOT to formulate a medical science theory. The Doctor was previously employed in Mallorca, Spain as a master of ceremonies and first aid provider at local wine tastings before joining the Tuesday Night Cigar Club.