By Night’s End premiered! You’ve been reading what we’ve had to say about this movie and how much we love it, both in our advanced review and in our exclusive interview with its star, Michelle Rose. Now we are going to tell you why this story has our hearts forever. It’s the story of finding strength in fragility.
Here we go!
At the beginning of the movie, we meet Heather, a US Army sergeant who has just returned home, and her husband. As the story progresses, we discover that they’re struggling with their own demons, fears, and losses. They both struggle to overcome the loss of their daughter and the demons Heather brought with her from Iraq. They don’t communicate and the two try to reach each other but … they can’t. There is like…a wall between them.
Heather has panic attacks. She can’t breathe and all of a sudden it’s like she’s back there in Iraq, living a nightmare, her reality mixes with her memories of Iraq and she loses track of where she is. Only her willpower brings her back to the present. She has post traumatic stress syndrome and she really wants to tell her husband what she sees, what she re-lives. But she can’t. Something … something is stopping her. Perhaps the fear that, if she tells him, she will not be able to stop crying for the lives lost, for her feeling of guilt.
To the loss of her daughter, Heather adds the loss of her team on a mission gone awry in Iraq. She was the one in charge and feels responsible for all those losses. So she is in a very dark place and she struggles, tries, really tries, to catch up with her husband in the middle of the road and lean on him to help her come out into the light, to resurface and out of the darkness… but she can’t figure out how to do it.
For his part, her husband tries to get to her, to leave space for her to clarify her ideas, for her to tell him what is happening. But he’s seeing that she is not going to him so he tries to go to her … only that he runs into an impenetrable wall. He tries to find her on the way … but, at the same time, he also needs to take refuge in her, to overcome the loss of his daughter. They both need each other … but they can’t meet in the middle of the road and they feel further away from each other than ever.
Personally, I find it really brave that this movie addresses this issue of post traumatic stress and ties it to the loss of a daughter to make it even harder emotionally. In general, movies or series don’t usually deal with this topic because they consider it taboo. At most, they mention it and that’s it. But By Night’s End shows us everything. It shows us the trauma, the fear, the panic attacks, the fact of not being able to breathe, of overwhelming yourself, of leaving your reality to go back there … and it makes us feel it. Feel absolutely everything.
It’s brave and transformative. For this movie it has not been a taboo subject but an essential element for the construction of Heather’s character. They have not been afraid to explain that this is a reality experienced by many veterans and that it’s rarely reflected in any area of life. We needed this. We needed this reality clash to bring a part of hell that veterans have to endure closer to the rest of us.
With all these problems, one night the marriage faces a very important moral dilemma when an intruder enters their house looking for money that he had hidden there months ago and Heather, in self-defense and to save her husband, shoots him and kills him. She goes to call the police immediately but her husband stops her. What would happen if, before doing so, they look for that money? It is a lot of money and they have several debts. All their financial troubles would be over, and that intruder is already dead anyway.
She doubts, is afraid, is divided between what she thinks is right and the logic of what her husband is telling her. In the end, they both decide to look for that money for an hour. Except that at that time everything gets complicated to unsuspected limits. This decision, this dilemma is also novel and courageous in a fiction, because it confronts us with a moral dichotomy.
We can’t help but wonder what we would have done in that situation. It is clear that the right thing is to call the police but … who would not be tempted to look for that money? It is a dilemma that confronts us with our moral principles, between what our conscience dictates to us and what human nature poses to us.
That decision is the linchpin of everything that happens afterward. The intruder was not alone and both his minions and his boss force Heather and her husband to seek that money in a race against time to save their own lives, one that will confront them with the reality of their personal situation.
There’re two key moments between them. The first is when Heather’s husband confronts her about their daughter’s death. As we have said, he wants to get to her but, since he can’t, he decides to confront her, to make her react. Heather keeps everything she feels about the loss of her team and her daughter to herself.
It is a defense mechanism, the only way she has to deal with those horrible losses, with her feelings of guilt, with anger, with pain, with frustration. It’s the only way she doesn’t break because she knows that if she did, she would break into so many pieces that she couldn’t put herself back together and go back to what she was. But maybe that’s what it’s about. Losses break us down and you’re never the same person again after that … but you get up, you get to live with it every day.
That’s what Heather thinks she wouldn’t get. That is why the only way she has to avoid it is to emotionally distance herself from everything because that way, she manages to prevent the darkness from consuming her. But problems and pain don’t go away just by ignoring them. We have to face them in order to move forward. Heather’s husband confronts her so that she does just that: she faces what she feels till she is able to externalize it, because if she keeps holding it in, it will end up destroying her from the inside.
Thankfully, he succeeds. When her husband throws away the drawings that her daughter made, Heather … breaks. Finally reacts and cries. Finally, she lets out her tears and is about to drown in them, to drown in a deep well, but her husband is there, he takes her hand and they cry together for their daughter but they never let go because they know that, if they do, they will both be lost but together, still with hands joined, fingers intertwined, both will overcome this. They will not be the same. They can never be. But they will learn to live with it. United.
The second emotional key moment in this story is the scene in which Heather willingly tells her husband a part of the nightmare she suffered in Iraq, a part of everything she relives through her panic attacks. It’s horrible, it’s tough, and it’s hell. But that’s what happened and she is opening up to him. They’re meeting along the way, just as they both wanted to happen.
Because Heather’s husband was hurting too. The loss of his daughter has left him devastated and not feeling his wife there … he was simply a man who had lost everything. All hope. And he thought he didn’t deserve to get it back.
The two were struggling to reach each other amid suffering and fear … until now. Her husband takes her hand again, understanding, supporting her… and thanks her. He thanks her for taking that leap of faith and for trusting him to be by her side. So that he would know her worst fears, her worst demons… and trust him to be there when she finished telling her story.
After all, that’s what love is all about. To share absolutely everything with your partner in crime, to know the beautiful parts but also the ugliest, the worst fears of your partner and, at the end of the day, continue by his/her side, holding his/her hand, to overcome everything together.
The couple finally manages to communicate and, in the midst of all the madness and fear they are experiencing, they meet again and rejoin. They reinforce their union and make it unbreakable.
In the midst of all this, Heather manages to find the money that was in an unexpected place and, with many difficulties and brutal scenes (with a torture scene of Heather’s husband and a new death included), the two manage to make it out alive and with the money in the back of the car. As the sun rises in a new dawn, the two head towards a new beginning. Together.
The movie excels in action scenes. They’re impressive. Really impressive and cool. Michelle Rose has extensive experience in the execution of these scenes, remember that she is the winner of SAG award for her stunt work in the ‘Avengers’ saga and it shows every step of the way. There are many fights well executed, credible and, in addition, with novel stunts that have not been seen in other movies. I can only say: Bravo!
As with the stunts, the rest of the action scenes are masterful. In fact, we have several scenes, such as the torture of Heather’s husband, which shows the harshness to which such a situation confronts us. The shots are terrific, as is the script and each and every one of the actors, especially the star, Michelle Rose. However, I think the emotional undertones are what elevates this film to the category of extraordinary.
By Night’s End shows us reality, in all aspects, without any fear. And that’s what I love about this movie. That is real. Yes, it’s raw, harsh, cruel at times, emotional… but it is as real as life itself. It is about human nature, our fears, our demons, our secrets, our pain, our fragility and our strength. This movie dares to try everything and we need more movies like this. We need to face our own reality, physically and morally.
By Night’s End could have been just another action movie but it is not. It has gone further and have dealt with issues with a deep emotional background, each character had their moral dilemma, their own demons and I especially liked Heather, a strong, brave and determined leading lady … but capable of breaking, and that isn’t makes her more fragile, on the contrary, it makes her much stronger.
I recommend By Night’s End. If you give it a chance, you will not regret it.