nights end directed by jennifer reeder

Jennifer Reeder has carved out a distinct career in horror, all while living outside of the moviemaking hubs of New York or Los Angeles.

Her latest, Night’s End, was slated to shoot in New Orleans or Savannah, “but the pandemic made both of those cities much more difficult places to shoot,” Reeder says. Moving the production to her native Chicago allowed Reeder to sleep in her own bed during production — “even if those nights are very short.” It also toned down the gothic elements that might’ve been otherwise too on the nose in one of those southern cities.

Originally from Ohio, the self-described “staunchly Midwestern” and “stubborn” Reeder says “there’s something about staying here and making it work,” that’s always appealed to her about staying in the region.

There’s been an unexpected perk of Reeder forging her own path in Chicago. “On some level I feel like I’ve been off the grid, toiling away in my workshop, developing my own voice and visual style,” she says. “Now when I’m sent scripts, there really is the sense of ‘We want the Jennifer Reeder take. We want her to author this project.’”

The days off, made possible by a cheaper cost of living, certainly don’t hurt either.

“No days off is no way for a creative person to live,” she says.

“I hate the idea that a young filmmaker would give up everything, to move to where they thought was the place where they were really going to make their mark, and then end up living, not even paycheck-to-paycheck, for work that didn’t allow them to stretch their wings creatively,” she continues.

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In Night’s End, Ken Barber (Geno Walker) is an unemployed divorcé who tries his hand at self help YouTube videos. Given his situation, these are about as successful as you might expect. “No reasonable person should take his advice,” Reeder says. But after discovering his apartment is haunted, Ken pivots his online blogging approach to the supernatural and promptly gains a following.

After a host of shorts, “feminist as fuck” feature Knives and Skin, and a segment in last year’s horror anthology V/H/S/94, Reeder was looking for a project that “wasn’t about teenage girls.” She had also been wanting to work with Chicago playwright Brett Neveu.

“I’m always looking for a project that’s ready to go,” she says. “I love directing what I write, but the writing process can take a while. So I’m always looking for something that feels like I can sew myself into.”

With its smaller cast and story which primarily unfolds through characters’ webcams, Neveu’s Night’s End fit the bill.

There were also shades of characters Reeder had written in the past in the lead of Ken.

“There are optimal times and non-optimal times to have a breakdown,” Reeder says. “It’s not an optimal time to have a breakdown while recording an advice tape you want to send out into the world. There were so many parts of the YouTube self help aspect that resonated with me in terms of the characters I’ve written prior.”

Night’s End, directed by Jennifer Reeder, is now available to stream on Shudder. 

Main image: Geno Walker in Night’s End, from director Jennifer Reeder.