Sundance 2021: How It Ends – Review


It’s the end of the world as we know it and Zoe Lister-Jones feels fine in How It Ends.

Co-written, co-directed and starring Zoe Lister-Jones, this is the latest in a Host of films (pun intended) made during Lockdown.

On the last day on Earth, one woman goes on a journey through LA to make it to her last party before the world ends, running into an eclectic cast of characters along the way.

It makes for pleasing and refreshing change to see a film about a world-ending event that does not revolve around a plot to avert disaster or save the day. These films are always fuelled by a will to survive, panic and hysteria as society crumbles. In this version of sunny California, everyone is completely relaxed about the situation. Accepting of their fate, the onus is on having a nice day one final time.

Ironically for a film about the end of the world, Lister-Jones and her “younger self” Cailee Spaeny emerge as stars of the future. They are very funny and engaging and make for great company during the apocalypse.

Scenes between the two of them sparkle. However as Liza runs into a host of friends and family, it becomes nothing more than a series of vignettes.

The issue is that the different encounters not to add much to the plot or help develop Liza’s character. Instead they feel like an excuse to showcase all the co-directors’ famous friends who helped out during Lockdown. Audiences can do the Leonardo DiCaprio OUATIH pointing at the TV meme as Bradley Whitford, Helen Hunt, Olivia Wilde, Colin Hanks and Logan Marshall-Green drop by for a scene or two.

It is interesting to review the films that emerge from the current COVID-19 situation. One can be impressed by the gumption and creativity to succeed in making a feature film during the pandemic. Especially when some of us struggle to muster the energy to bake banana bread. Should they be held to same standards as other films that were made without any limitations or restrictions? Or can one watch a film anymore without relating it to either pre-COVID or post-COVID times?

No matter the origins of the production, Wein and Lister-Jones clearly have talent and it will be interesting to see what they do next…

It is an enjoyable way to spend the end of days but lacks that deep impact to make it a truly memorable exit. Ultimately How It Ends, goes out not with a bang but with more of a amusing whimper.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Director: Ben Wheatley
Stars: Joel Fry, Hayley Squires, Reece Shearsmith
Runtime: 100 minutes
Country: UK

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