By RICK HIPSON
Starring Michelle Rose, Kurt Yue, Michael Aaron Milligan
Directed by Walker Whited
Written by Sean McCane and Walker Whited
3rd Shift Media
BY NIGHT’S END starts by introducing us to Heather (Michelle Rose, Grimm) and Mark (Kurt Yue, The Haunting Of Hill House). We quickly gain a sense of the natural, somewhat awkward, chemistry between the couple as they cope with the death of their daughter while settling into their new home. Heather, a retired sergeant back from disarming bombs in the Middle East bottles her anguish in an effort to move on while Mark holds tight to memories and mementos while blaming himself for the loss. Their sorrow laces our experience with a palpable level of compassion throughout the film and into the final credits.
The slow burn first act hits the wall when an armed intruder is cornered inside their home in the middle of the night with promises of a small fortune in return for what he came for. A few corpses later and the couple’s night gets a whole lot worse when the animated, murderous Moody (Michael Aaron Milligan, The Purge) comes lurking outside the house like a nightmare refusing to leave until he gets what he wants. When Heather’s hubby folds under pressure like a worn-out lawn chair, she is forced to unleash the rage within to save their skin and home.
The film benefits from the combined efforts of a cast and crew who know how to wring every drop from every scene with raw, effective execution, and Rose’s stuntwoman experience certainly doesn’t hurt either. Whether it’s through Mark’s subtle facial expressions and body language, a heartwarming scene where Heather recalls an experience endured in Iraq, or seeing the duo thrust face-first into their own worst fears, high tension and relatable terror are on full display throughout.
All the blood-stained frenetic action leads up to a bullet flying finale which plays out like an anxiety-inducing slow-motion murder ballet where the red curtain is just as likely to fall upon them all. A solid entry in the home invasion canon, BY NIGHT’S END is a helluva first feature from writer/director Walker Whited.
BY NIGHT’S END is available now on VOD and Digital.