Hot Take: A better title would be “I Wish It Would End!”
I’ve been pretty skeptical of Netflix films. Though some have said that the combination of the rise of the superhero flick and digital streaming being a viable alternative to the cinema to release films, the level of quality of films on streaming services such as Netflix has been so
mediocre poor that I’m in the camp that says cinema will survive and continue to be more than just a place to see big budget popcorn flicks. The latest evidence to support my side of the argument is How It Ends, a dystopian action thriller featuring Theo James, Forest Whitaker and Kat Graham. Directed by David M. Rosenthal, the man behind 2015’s unexpected low budget box office hit The Perfect Guy. Years ago, How It Ends would have found its way to the box office and would have bombed harder than you can imagine. While the climate is always right for a dystopian thriller, the cast is solid but has no real draw, the cinematography is decent enough to make the trailer look better than the film it’s endorsing and the film goes absolutely nowhere fast and stays there. Between 2016 and 2017, the number of films reaching 1,000+ screens dropped about 10%, if How It Ends is an example of the films that are missing the cut for the theater, we’re better off than we thought.
In How It Ends, Will (Theo James) is a Seattle lawyer who plans on getting engaged to Sam (Kat Graham). With Sam expecting, Will flies to Chicago to meet Sam’s parents and ask for their permission to marry their daughter. Sam’s father Tom (Forest Whitaker) does not get along with Will and the subject of the proposal never comes up. The next day when Will is planning to leave to return to Seattle, while on the phone with Sam, the call is disconnected and a seismic event is reported which shuts down the airports and disrupts electricity. Concerned for the safety of Sam, her father plans to drive from Chicago to Seattle to get her. Will decides to join him.
Is it just me or is How It Ends as generic a dystopian thriller can get? While the script, a 2010 Black List script from Brooks McLaren, is unspectacular, the usually competent cast does nothing to elevate the film. The best thing the film has going for it is slick, impressive visuals but the film goes nowhere. At least seeing How It Ends in theaters would have removed the overwhelming desire to want to fast forward through How It Ends to the end. Even then, there’s no real payoff and How It Ends fails on almost every level.
How It Ends shows real promise when watching the trailer. Unfortunately, it’s downhill from there. The film continues to give credence to a definite divide between the quality of theatrical releases and what goes directly to streaming services. More importantly, How It Ends provides evidence that that quality gap isn’t closing any time soon. Even though it’s free with your Netflix subscription (if you have one), it’s still impossible to recommend How It Ends for any reason other than it could help with insomnia.
Everyone who had anything to do with The Vampire Diaries deserves more screen time. So, even though it’s horrible, Kat Graham still makes it to the screen for about 10% of the film. And since it’s on a streaming service, you can fast forward through the non-Kat Graham parts.
On second thought, just go binge watch The Vampire Diaries.