SyFy Channel is at it again, a film about the near end of the world. With the backlog of disaster films, you would imagine if there ever was an emergency and the world was on the cusp of massive destruction, thankfully there is a film out there to at least give us an outside-the-box theory of how to prevent the end. After all it’s not as though NASA or the numerous geniuses working in labs in front of computers or telescopes would have any idea about what to do. It’s always someone nestled in a small town no one has ever heard of, but this resident has the answers to everything. It’s with this kind of thinking and obsession with disaster films where End of the World wants its viewers. This isn’t a film that takes itself seriously, but it also is a far cry from being a parody.
Greg Grunberg (Alias and Heroes) plays Owen Stokes, a disaster-film-obsessed owner of a video store. It’s a small town, so it doesn’t seem as though Netflix or Red Box has made its corporate invasion quite yet. Selena (Caroline Cave) is Owen’s girlfriend and doesn’t seem too pleased that he’s forgotten her birthday or that he uses the birthdate of his favorite sci-fi writer Dr. Walter Brown to remind him. But before their argument can get too out of hand, a solar flare hits the Earth sending bursts of blue energy that destroy whatever it comes into contact with.
Taking shelter in the store there is Max (Mark Hildreth) who is Owen’s jealous cousin who has eyes on Selena. Also there is store clerk Steve (Neil Grayston) who is just as much a disaster film geek as Owen, and he simply wants to get back to his mom in fear the disaster may have killed her. But getting around town isn’t easy. The solar flare has wiped out everything with an electric pulse. So modern cars, cell phones and computers are just about worthless, but hope is not yet lost as Owen believes if they find Dr. Brown that he’ll know just what to do to save the world.
Unfortunately the good Doctor Walter Brown (Brad Dourif) has been locked away in a mental hospital. So not only does our ragtag team of survivors have to face townspeople who are looting, mini bursts from the solar flare and each other, but they also have to figure out a way to break the doctor out.
This film is filled with film references and numerous other geeky outlets. This film references everything from Terminator 2 to being borderline self-referential when mentioning Heroes to just about every disaster film that’s appeared on SyFy. Where this film somewhat won me over is that I felt the direction of the characters trying to figure things out based on movies they had seen was very true. I can remember numerous conversations friends and I would sit around discussing how we’d survive certain situations based upon the movies we’ve seen. It seems silly; OK, it is very ridiculous on our part, but who’s to say watching these films won’t do a bit of good? After all, there is a Zombie Survival Guide that was printed and has been on the best seller list. With the silly but charming script, it’s the characters that sell this film. Grunberg plays this character with such joy and whimsy that I wonder how much he really did relate to his character.
As for the film’s effects, well, it’s standard issue SyFy channel here, but because of the tongue-in-cheek attitude of the script it made the less than stellar effects all the more forgivable. Really what it comes down to is the film knows what it is and simply had fun, and it translates with the actors and everything we see on screen. Because of this, it allows the viewer to be a part of the joke and just have a good time with the film. I’m not about to say this is a “great” film, but this is actually something I can recommend and not feel I should hide my face in shame.