How It Ends (2018) – Review

The movie How It Ends is now streaming on Netflix.

By Greg Wheeler

Netflix post-apocalyptic thriller How It Ends is one of the most frustrating films I’ve watched this year. The intriguing premise and sickly yellow hues hanging over almost every scene frame it as a unique watch, somehow carving its own place in this very busy genre. However, How It Ends is a very appropriate, featuring one of the worst endings to a movie ever. The plot is 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 blackout throws America into chaos, Will finds himself stuck on the other side of the country, away from Samantha. With communications down across the nation and unexplained phenomena including radio interference, crazy birds, and endless havoc, 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 five days passing, America reverts to a post-apocalyptic wasteland devoid of life, cities lie under thick blankets of ash for reasons unexplained, and a state of martial law is enacted.

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 was in the form of a brief dialogue exchange, but it feels like a cop-out, not providing actual answers to what’s going on.

What caused the blackouts? Who’s responsible? Why is the army remaining tight-lipped? What’s with the radio chatter? Why is there crazy weather? If you find yourself caught up on any of this, prepare yourself for a mighty disappointing two hours. None of these questions are answered and worse, the lack of a conclusive ending given just further exacerbates these flaws.

There’s some seriously questionable cinematography in this film too. While every scene having a sickly yellow hue on its own would be fine, it is coupled with large shadows and indecipherable action sequences shot in the dead of night. How It Ends looks disgusting. It’s not helped 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 you frustrated, having to 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. Then the movie falls all the way downhill. The script seemingly runs out of ideas, falling back on post-apocalyptic stock tropes and an abundance of unexplained questions, all culminating in, as mentioned above, a middle-finger to the viewer. While there are redeeming features here and some of the acting is passable, 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.

I give How It Ends an F.