Netflix's How It Ends movie review: Two hours of an excruciatingly painful road trip sans any direction

Bhaskar Chattopadhyay

Jul 24, 2018 10:17:00 IST


When the makers of the new Netflix release How It Ends were marketing the movie as a disaster film, they ought to have been more careful about what they wished for. Because truth be told, David M Rosenthal’s latest film is exactly that – a disaster. It is just two hours of excruciatingly painful exposure to an impairing vacuum left behind by a complete lack of logic, coherence and even the remotest signs of a plot.

 Netflixs How It Ends movie review: Two hours of an excruciatingly painful road trip sans any direction

Theo James in a still from How It Ends. Netflix

Will and Samantha are an interracial couple living in Seattle who are expecting their first child. Will travels to Chicago in order to meet Samantha’s parents and ask for their daughter’s hand in marriage. That is easier said than done because Samantha’s father Tom – a veteran of the marine corps – is a difficult, grumpy and suspicious man. While in Chicago, Will learns of a catastrophic event that has hit the West Coast, although details regarding the actual events are unclear. As all communications are cut off and all flights are cancelled, Will and Tom must set their differences aside and must embark upon a cross-country road trip to get to Samantha, whose current whereabouts are unknown.

Although the premise has been done to death, there is still a bit of promise in it. I had expected to see sparks flying between a novice Will and the hard-boiled Tom – as they scramble to get to their girlfriend and daughter respectively. In an enclosed environment such as that of a car, with unknown dangers lying ahead of them, how would they react to each other? Would they be able to work hand in hand for the sake of the love of their lives, watching each other’s backs along the way? Or would the tension between them threaten to cloud their sanity? Unfortunately, none of these questions seems to have come to the makers’ minds because they are never addressed in the film. Instead, an entirely unnecessary plotline is introduced, which has absolutely no bearing on the story whatsoever. The duo end up picking up an Apache car mechanic and she, in turn, ends up making their lives more difficult than it already is.

Subplot after subplot is introduced because the main story does not seem to be going anywhere, least of all to Seattle. Various characters – whose origins and motivations are both unclear – come and go. The makers never bother to explain who they are, or what they want, or why they are behaving in the manner they are. It all becomes very frustrating until the film reaches a point where Will finally reaches Seattle, when another absolutely futile subplot is introduced and shot down in a matter of minutes, leaving you stunned and perplexed. This is one of the worst storytelling I have come across in a long, long time.

Theo James puts in a sincere performance as Will but has very little to work with. Caught in a tense situation with a man who cannot seem to stand the sight of him, he maintains his composure for the sake of the woman in his life. But his fine performance is derailed after two scenes, when the story demands that he act completely contradictory to his character’s nature. Forest Whitaker – usually a fine actor – is wasted in this epic error of a film. Not even for one scene does he come across as convincing – either as an irritable father-in-law or as a loving father. Grace Dove is Ricki – the garage hand who bursts into tears every second scene, complaining about a troubled childhood she has had, which, honestly, I could not care less about because she seems like a paper character all throughout the film, never once making a genuine effort to come across as flesh and blood. She vanishes just as she appears and well, all I could say was – good riddance.

Tacky low budget special effects, poor cinematography, lousy editing, shoddy dubbing and a horrible sense of continuity are some of the other problems ailing this sordid film. The world would have been a much better place without it and I seriously recommend you put your time to more fruitful endeavours.

How It Ends is currently streaming on Netflix.

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Updated Date: Jul 24, 2018 10:17:00 IST