Recalling classic home-based thrillers like Wait Until Dark and Shallow Grave, By Night’s End is the kind of low-budget indie that tends to get lost in the crush of movies looking for an audience in the post-theatrical landscape.
Heather (Michelle Rose) and Mark (Kurt Yue) are a suburban couple whose marriage is beset by financial and emotional problems. (An early dialogue exchange that lays some of these problems out while establishing the existence of others that will be revealed later, all in dialogue that sounds like a conversation between two characters and not an explanation directed at the viewer, is a little gem of screenwriting concision.)
Little do they know that hidden in their house is a valuable object stolen in a recent robbery. When one of the thieves sneaks in in the middle of the night to try and retrieve it, he is accidentally killed by Heather, a former military sergeant. Against her better judgment, Heather is persuaded by Mark to hold off calling the police until they find the object, whatever it is.
But the thief had associates. They still want the object, and by not calling the police Heather and Mark have lost their best option of defense.
Clocking in at a trim 85 minutes, By Night’s End doesn’t entirely deliver on all of its promises. Whether some moments actually don’t make sense or just seem that way is open to argument. (Did that one bad guy really get stabbed to death with a toothbrush?) But lead Rose, whose primary employment in films has been stunt work, is as convincing in the heavily dramatic moments as she is fighting for her home. And cinematographer Philip Wages delivers some well-conceived and impressively executed single shot sequences.