At the End of Eight


Thank God it was only 77 minutes

Main Cast: Alex Nichols, Jeremiah Taylor

Director: Rankin Dean

Before my wife and I moved in together, I spent a couple of years living alone, and if I’d seen AT THE END OF EIGHT during that time, it might have freaked me out.  The story of an internet game where three contestants are given the task of breaking into a house and hiding out for eight hours without being found or even suspected.  Yeah, I’ve got a lot of rooms in this house, a dark hallway or two, and several shadowy corners.  This movie, if I’d seen it when I lived alone, would have been just the thing to give me pause before heading up those dark stairs on my way to bed.

But then I would have watched another few seconds of the movie, one of the incredibly clumsy characters would have dropped something, or talked in a dead quiet house at full volume, and I would have rolled my eyes at once again managing to pick a movie that SOUNDS like an interesting premise, but turns into utter garbage thanks to the lazy efforts of those behind, and in front of, the camera.

Maybe that’s the real danger here: severe eye roll strain.

Man, I was so hopeful, too.  Because I did love the premise.  How interesting: they have to break in, hide, and just not be found for eight full hours.  Can you imagine just sitting around your house at night, or climbing into bed and, unbeknownst to you, there really IS a person in your closet or under your bed?  And it’s not a ghost, it’s a real human person, who’s just there to try to win some money.  They don’t want to hurt you.  They don’t even want you to know they’re there.  They’re just THERE.  The idea alone has a high creep factor.

The execution, however, in the Rankin Dean-written and directed movie AT THE END OF EIGHT … sigh.

Allison (Alex Nichols), Will (Jeremiah Taylor, THE BROTHERHOOD), and Darian (Corban Gililland, THE BROTHERHOOD) are the players, but they soon learn that tangling with the owners of this house might not be worth the prize money, no matter how badly they need it.  And that was exactly what I expected was going to happen.  Almost from frame one of this movie, the overall plot is telegraphed every step of the way.  Not that it’s a bad plot, and handled correctly it could have provided some decent tension and maybe a scare or two.

Rankin Dean’s are not the correct hands.  And definitely Nichols, Taylor and Gilliland are the WRONG hands.  Especially Taylor.  This is his first feature credit where he has a name, and nothing more since a 13-minute short in 2020 so hopefully he actually watched himself on screen and said, “holy crap I’m not a good actor,” and he went back to school or got a job or something.  Not to say Nichols and Gilliland are much better, but they ARE slightly less embarrassingly bad.  Stella Adler is credited with the “acting is reacting” quote and someone should definitely tell Jeremiah Taylor.  Or at least show him how to react without looking like a friggin doofus.

But he was FAR from this movie’s only problem.  I wouldn’t even say he’s the biggest one, he’s just the worst actor.  But being the worst actor in this bunch is like being the worst BeanBoozled flavor.  They’re all pretty terrible, but then you get that one that tastes like vomit and you think maybe “stinky socks” isn’t so bad.

In a house where you’re trying to NOT be detected, making a sandwich and then tossing the knife onto the hard countertop is a good way to BE detected.  And who makes a peanut butter sandwich with a butcher knife unless you’re TRYING to get stabbed to death?

In one scene a character peeks out from a doorway into a darkened room where one of the contestants is trying to slowly slink further into the shadows along the wall.  The player knocks a picture off the wall, the frame shatters, glass everywhere, and the person looking into the room, instead of saying who’s there and turning on a light, ducks back out of the room… leaving the player alone to scurry off somewhere else.

In an early scene as the players are sneaking in through an open window, one of them gets their sweater snagged on a nail and actually has a hard time getting into the house from that point.  I was thinking very loudly at the screen JUST TAKE IT OFF THE NAIL, YOU MORON!  This is the same character who I lost count of how many things they picked up and immediately dropped, or kicked, or bumped into.  Remember, the key to this game is NOT to get caught.

It was obvious from go that Dean saw DON’T BREATHE and said, “Hey, what if this was a game people are playing for a cash prize,” and he went to work on the script without really developing that idea into something, oh I don’t know … GOOD.

Having said all that, from a technical standpoint, AT THE END OF EIGHT wasn’t terrible to look at.  It seemed well shot with some interesting camera angles and a decent visual storytelling style.  I think with better actors and a script that had gone through another draft or two, there could have been some real suspense here, because it’s definitely shot like someone knew what they were doing.

I liked the house even if I NEVER got a clear sense of its layout or where ANY of the characters were in relation to one another, which took some of the tension out of their sneaking, especially when they weren’t trying very hard to BE QUIET.

I will give Dean (THE BROTHERHOOD) credit for his editing.  He may have finished the second draft and said, “YEP, this is it!” and he may have been unable to direct a movie AND be a character in the movie at the same time, but he edited his way around a few rough spots in the blocking that could have really strained those eye rolls I was doing, so kudos on that, I guess.

But it wasn’t enough to save the movie.  At times I felt like I was watching the neighbors from down the street after they got hold of a quality camera and decided to just goof around with it and see what happens.

AT THE END OF EIGHT is currently streaming on Amazon Prime, so if you stumble across it on your search for something to watch, keep scrolling; you haven’t found it yet.  This one was just plain not good.

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