Haven’s End comes out of the gate with distraught news anchors and explosions in the distance. Alison (Catherine Taber), a nurse who does not play by the rules, happens to have an apartment with a perfect view of Atlanta’s mysterious and sudden destruction. Thinking ahead, she’s already aligned herself with a capable post-apocalypse partner: her ex-military boyfriend, Derek (Anthony Nguyen). If you’re going to go through the end of the world, a medic and a soldier should be your first picks for the kickball team. An innocent child who unknowingly holds the cure is usually a good third pick.
Instead, Alison and Derek end up with Jessi (Megan Hayes), a dorky but loyal friend. After the trio flees the city, they end up at a trailer deep in the woods. This is where Alison’s brother, Kevin (Alex Zuko), lives with his girlfriend, Hannah (Hannah Fierman). Upon arrival, the weak-willed Hannah is flipping out, and Kevin’s not the type of guy to calm anyone down. As the world crumbles from some unknown force, this small group of friends and family grow increasingly intent on destroying themselves. They succumb to fear, paranoia, and other primal instincts left unchecked.
“Taber is a good lead, and the rest of the cast refrain from overdoing it…“
It doesn’t take long to see that Haven’s End, directed by Chris Ethridge, is a little rough around the edges, and a little rough around the insides, too. It keeps moving, though, leaving you no time to hang your hat on any of its defects. Obviously, this isn’t the most ideal compliment, but there’s something to be said about a film that knows what it is and isn’t looking to push its luck by hanging around. Just when you start to question whether any of the characters are worth your attention, the next big event happens, and you move on.
Taber is a good lead, and the rest of the cast refrain from overdoing it, and there are many opportunities to do so. Alison’s backstory as a nurse actually has a satisfying reveal that speaks to her character in an interesting way. A lot of the overall story beats feel plucked out of a hat, however, and the dialogue is often boring and movie-ish—and not self-aware, fun movie-ish. You really notice it, as is usually the case, with the attempts at comedy. Most of these attempts are worn by Jessi like an albatross. She never stood a chance.
There’s nothing about Haven’s End that separates it from other films of its kind. It’s content with hitting familiar beats and does so without looking back. If the same amount of consideration that was given to Alison’s backstory was applied to the movie as a whole, it might have been given enough depth to break away from its generic trappings. Even so, Haven’s End is fast-paced and refrains from stepping in it—up until the last three seconds.
"…if you’re going to go through the end of the world, a medic and a soldier should be your first picks for the kickball team."