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The Gratuitous B-Movie Column: Haven’s End

October 8, 2019 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
Haven's End

The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Issue #525: Haven’s End

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Buffalo Dreams Fantastic Film Festival Review Marathon: Week 5

Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to the internets movie review column that would like to think it would survive and thrive in the past-apocalypse but realizes that it would likely be one of the first ones to go (and, really, who would want to live in the post-apocalypse without TV anyway? Exactly), The Gratuitous B-Movie Column, and I am your host Bryan Kristopowitz. In this issue, issue number five hundred and twenty-five, the Buffalo Dreams Fantastic Film Festival Movie Review Marathon concludes with the sci-fi horror flick Haven’s End, directed by Chris Ethridge.

Haven’s End

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Haven’s End stars Catherine Taber as Alison, a badass trauma doctor who, despite being suspended from the hospital, still wants to practice medicine and help people in the midst of massive social unrest. Something sinister is happening in Atlanta and the world at large, and no one seems to know what, exactly, that sinister thing is. It could be terrorists, it could be aliens, it could be demons, it could be anything. Whatever it is, it’s causing people to freak the fuck out. As multiple explosions rock downtown Atlanta, Alison, along with her soldier boyfriend Derek (Anthony Nguyen) and best friend Jessi (Megan Hayes), decide to get the hell out of town and into the country to wait out whatever the hell is happening. They eventually hook up with Harry (Robert Pralgo), an old family friend who also happens to be a survivalist of some sort, and things start to look up. They’ve got food, water, weapons, and shelter; everything a person needs to survive.

And that’s when the shit really hits the fan. Harry’s survivalist compound is attacked by unseen marauders, Jessi is shot, and Alison, Derek, and Jessi, along with Harry, decide to head to Alison’s family’s trailer out in the woods. It’s secluded, it has a generator for power, and it’s another nice place to hole up. When they get there, the shit hits the fan again as Harry is shot dead by a woman named Hannah (Hannah Fierman), the girlfriend of Alison’s douchebag brother Kevin (Alex Zuko). What the hell is Kevin doing out in the family woods trailer? And why did Hannah kill Harry?

Apparently, Kevin and Hannah have been in the trailer since the end of the world began, and Hannah shot Harry because she was scared. As tends to happen in the apocalypse, there are bad actors everywhere, and there’s always more than one enemy out there. So Hannah shot Harry in a kind of self-defense. So Harry dies from his wounds, and Alison, Derek, and Jessi stick around and take over the trailer. Alison and Kevin catch up, we find out that they’re, at best, estranged siblings, and the group tries to figure out what to do next. Derek sets up a perimeter around the trailer and stands watch, while Jessi works on fixing an old ham radio. There have to be other survivors, and there might still be a functioning government of some sort. Jessi eventually fixes the radio and the group finds out what they all likely suspected once the apocalypse began: this really is the end of the world. What the hell?

So then some stuff happens, Alison and Kevin have a big argument, and Kevin and Hannah leave the trailer and venture out into the woods alone to fend for themselves. Hannah doesn’t want to go, but Kevin is her man and she’s going to follow him wherever he decides to go (that, and she did kill Harry and there’s still some tension within the group over that). That sentiment loses a lot of its appeal once they’re alone in the woods and Hannah wants to head back to the trailer. Kevin tells her not to go. Hannah goes anyway.

And that’s when the shit hits the fucking fan again. Something happens, a scream is heard from every direction, and Kevin shows up back at the trailer speaking gibberish. What the hell happened to him? And where is Hannah? Derek goes looking for her and comes back fairly quickly, weirded out for some reason. And that’s when the weird red light shows up.

Weird red light? And are there zombies in the woods? Goddamn zombies? What the hell is going on here?

It’s that mystery, and the tension among the group, that makes Haven’s End stand out. And the mystery helps make that group tension even greater as weird stuff continues to happen and no one has any answers for any of it. It’s bad enough to be stuck with a group of people that have all sorts of personal issues out in the middle of nowhere, but add in the apocalypse and it’s even worse. Alison and Kevin have their obvious family issues. Derek doesn’t like Kevin at all and thinks he’s been sabotaging the group since they all met up (there’s a parts issue/mystery with a truck and the generator that allows the trailer to have power). Jessi is wounded and terrified because she doesn’t know what happened to her girlfriend (she’s also not fond of Kevin). And then there’s all of the stuff with Hannah. Where did she go? Why didn’t Derek find her? As for the apocalypse, it really is just a bunch of dangerous stuff that, at first, is happening in the background, but as the story progresses it gets closer and closer to the group. But what the hell is it? Is it some sort of man-made attack? Is it aliens? Demons? Something no one has thought of? Whatever it is, it keeps showing its face every now and then, and it’s debatable as to whether or not the group can fight it off.

The tension among the group is truly captivating, which is great because that tension takes up most of the movie. Alison loves her brother Kevin doesn’t necessarily want to be around him. Alison loves Derek and Derek loves her but he wants Kevin gone, too. Kevin probably loves Alison, but at the same time he’s shifty as hell and you can’t quite trust him, even if you buy into his individual life story and see that as a good reason for his shiftiness. Jessi loves Alison and Derek, but she really wants to know what happened to her girlfriend. And Hannah, when she’s around, is stuck in the middle of it all. All of the actors are terrific, which makes the movie an easy watch. And that’s important because, again, that group tension takes up a vast majority of the movie, and who wants to spend time with people who are all just awful? No one wants to do that.

Catherine Taber does a great job as Alison. She’s both a total badass and the glue that keeps the group together, a difficult task considering the movie’s plot. Her optimism under the circumstances is also inspiring in a way. The world is going to shit, and she’s fighting to keep it somewhat together. You rarely ever see that kind of thing in any kind of apocalyptic movie.

Anthony Nguyen is also quite the badass as Derek, although not quite as badass as Alison. Derek is injured for most of the movie, but he’s never injured enough to slow down. And I think you’ll dig his constant suspicion of Kevin. I know I wanted Derek to just beat the shit out of Kevin. And Alex Zuko, who plays Kevin, sure as hell knows how to be a shifty douchebag. I don’t think you’ll be surprised by how his character plays out. What the hell did Hannah ever see in him in the first place?

And Megan Hayes is awesome as Jessi, as she has to be the movie’s comic relief (well, sort of). Considering the predicament the group finds itself in, that’s amazing. And while I understand why Robert Pralgo’s Harry had to die, I still wish the movie had more of him in it. He’s great.

The action director Ethridge manages to stage is quite good. He’s able to squeeze out quite a bit of spectacle on what is obviously a very modest budget. There are multiple explosions, there’s an ingenious gunfight where we never see the enemy but we know they’re there, and there’s some nifty, visceral tension towards the end. And it all looks fabulous.

Haven’s End is a great little sci-fi horror flick. It’s a pre-post apocalypse movie, something that you don’t see every day, and it’s something that you should definitely check out. I loved it.

See Haven’s End. See it, see it, see it.

So what do we have here?

Dead bodies: In an overall sense, lots.

Explosions: Several.

Nudity?: None.

Doobage: The calm before the storm, multiple explosions in the background, exploding government complex, a fully stocked warehouse, machine gun attack, a nasty wound, out in the middle of nowhere, shotgun blast to the chest, off screen wound fixing, strange lights in the sky, ham radio hooey, a sort of funny lesbian love story, a walk through the woods, off screen screaming, gibberish, a weirded out expression, weird light attack, generator hooey,. Some weird static on the radio, zombies in the woods, a miscarriage, a disappearing truck, weird drawings in a notebook, attempted rescue mission, Achilles heel slicing, flare hooey, a final confrontation, and a cool ending.

Kim Richards?: None, although, considering it’s the apocalypse, I’d imagine it must have happened off screen several million times. Maybe billions of times?

Gratuitous: Atlanta, TV news interludes that resemble CNN, worried lesbians, an audio news crawl on how everything is escalating and you can’t fly anywhere, “Army vs. Marines” macho jagoff bullshit, a dangerous enemy that you can’t see because it’s hiding in the fucking trees, a “kung fu grip” insult, ham radio hooey, zombies in the woods, a 360 camera pan, shotgun hooey, and a cool ending.

Best lines: “Fucking bureaucrat!,” “We’ll be back in action for the next mass shooting, I promise,” “We could use some help, Harry,” “There’s candy?,” “It looks like the NRA threw up in here,” “Derek! Stop telling the trauma doc what her patient needs!,” “Please don’t say we should have gone to the hospital,” “What about my face?,” “I’m sorry I elbowed you in the face,” “How is a girl supposed to get her beauty sleep with all of this fucking noise?,” “So, you’re married to a girl?,” “I can’t believe that it’s real,” “Family shouldn’t kick you out,” “Morning sickness is hell with a gunshot wound,” “We need to bury Harry,” “Is that a good idea? It doesn’t sound like a good idea,” “The big, bad government isn’t going to save your ass, knuckle dragger,” “I see you and I know exactly what you are,” “I love you, Kevin, and I think you’re a major fuck up,” “I’m in here with or baby and we’ll both see you soon,” “I don’t know, maybe the lights did it,” “I don’t need a gun to prove a point, cocksucker!,” “This plan is shit. It’s the plan we have,” “I don’t know what’s real. The horde. The horse is real,” and “Alison. You always do the right thing. Not this time.”

Rating: 8.5 /10.0

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Things to Watch Out For

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Doom: Annihilation: The great Louis Mandylor stars in this low budget, direct-to-video adaptation of the classic first person shooter video game Doom. I don’t think it has anything to do with the less-than-classic big screen adaptation of Doom that came out fourteen years ago and starred The Rock, but I could be wrong about that (imdb seems to think it’s meant to be a sequel to that 2005 movie). Does Annihilation look cheap and, well, kind of cheesy? Yes, it does, but that doesn’t mean it won’t kick ass. I definitely want to check this one out. Will this be the first in a series of low budget, direct-to-video Doom movies? I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

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Jarhead: Law of Return: Devon Sawa and Robert Patrick star in this latest entry in the Jarhead franchise, which is insane to think about when you consider that the first Jarhead was directed by Sam Mendes and was considered a possible Oscar contender (it didn’t get nominated for any major awards). The last one, Part 3: The Siege, featured Scott Adkins, Dennis Haysbert, and Charlie Weber and was directed by the great William Kaufman. Law of Return, part 4, is directed by the great Don Michael Paul, the guy that did Part 2: Field of Fire, plus plenty of other low budget, direct-to-video movies (like 2 Sniper sequels, the last two Tremors sequels plus the one in production right now, a Death Race sequel, a Scorpion King sequel, and Kindergarten Cop 2), so you know that even if it isn’t any good it will at least be watchable and kind of fun. And, really, isn’t that what you want out of a low budget, direct-to-video action sequel? I know that’s what I want. Man, I think I need to review all of these movies at some point, too.

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Replace: The great Barbara Crampton is featured in this low budget sci-fi horror flick about a young woman who apparently discovers that she can replace her own nasty, dry, and dying skin with someone else’s. I’m just going to assume that means she has to kill people in order to get “new” skin, because that’s how these stories always tend to work out. Anyway, the trailer is pretty freaky, and this looks like a rental first, just to see if it’s worth owning and watching again. That’s what I hope to do at one point.

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Spider-Man: Far From Home: This is the latest Marvel Cinematic Universe movie and the second of the new Spider-Man movies. Unfortunately, I missed this when it was in theatres, so I have no idea if it’s as good as Homecoming or, really, any of the other MCU movies out there. Far From Home made tons of money worldwide, and the reviews for it were pretty good, so at least it has that going for it. I now need to see four MCU movies in order to see all of them (The Incredible Hulk, Doctor Strange, Ant-Man and the Wasp, and now Far From Home). Who out there saw this and liked it? Who hated it?

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Wanted: Dead or Alive: This is the classic mid-1980’s action flick starring Rutger Hauer that was a sort of movie sequel to the classic 1958 TV western starring Steve McQueen. Gene Simmons is the villain and Benson hisself, Robert Guillaume, appears, too. I vaguely remember seeing this movie a few times on cable back in the day, and it was always in the action section of damn near every video store I frequented (the poster is cool as hell). The fine folks at Kino Lorber are releasing this and it has a commentary track with director Gary Sherman and executive producer Arthur M. Sarkissian plus some other stuff. I would suspect that this would be a must own for fans of Hauer, 1980’s action flicks, and, well, anyone who likes Blu-rays with commentary tracks on them. Anyone out there a Wanted: Dead or Alive fan?

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Well, I think that’ll be about it for now. Don’t forget to sign up with disqus if you want to comment on this article and any other 411 article. You know you want to, so just go do it.

B-movies rule. Always remember that.

Haven’s End

Catherine Taber– Alison
Anthony Nguyen– Derek
Megan Hayes– Jessi
Alex Zuko– Kevin
Hannah Fierman– Hannah
Robert Pralgo– Harry

(check out the rest of the cast here)

Directed by Chris Ethridge
Screenplay by Michael H. Harper

Produced by Blue Dusk Productions

Not Rated
Runtime– 92 minutes

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