How It Ends (2018 film)

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How It Ends
How It Ends (film).png
Film poster
Directed byDavid M. Rosenthal
Produced by
Written byBrooks McLaren
Music byAtli Örvarsson
CinematographyPeter Flinckenberg
Edited byJason Ballantine
Distributed byNetflix
Release date
  • July 13, 2018 (2018-07-13) (United States)
Running time
113 min
CountryUnited States

How It Ends is a 2018 American action thriller film directed by David M. Rosenthal and written by Brooks McLaren. The film stars Theo James, Forest Whitaker, Grace Dove, Nicole Ari Parker, Kat Graham, and Mark O'Brien.

The film was released on July 13, 2018, by Netflix.


Will and Samantha (Sam) are a young couple who are expecting their first child. Will flies from Seattle to visit Sam's parents in Chicago, intending to ask Tom, Sam's disapproving father, for permission to marry Sam. At dinner, Will and Tom get into an argument, and Will leaves without mentioning the pregnancy or wedding plans.

The next day, Sam calls Will before his flight back. There is a mysterious sound, and Samantha, scared, says, "Something's wrong" before the call disconnects and Will cannot call her back. At the airport, all flights are cancelled. During a TV news report that discusses preliminary reports on a seismic event off the West Coast of the United States that has disrupted electrical power and telecommunication, electricity and phone lines in Chicago are disrupted. Will returns to Sam's parents' house, where Tom and Will agree to drive together to Seattle to find Sam.

Amidst heavy traffic, Will and Tom discover that soldiers have closed off the interstate highway for safety reasons. Invoking his prior service as a Marine officer, Tom manages to persuade them to let his car through. That night, they are pulled over by what appears to be a police patrol but is in actuality an escaped convict with a shotgun. The ensuing firefight results in an accident that fractures Tom's ribs. Tom knocks out the convict, and they use the police cruiser to tow their damaged car to a nearby reservation.

At the reservation, Tom finds a mechanic, Ricki, who fixes the car and agrees to travel with them in case their car breaks down again. The trio set out, making sure to restock for provisions when they can, first at a small town reluctant to help outsiders and again at an abandoned theme park. At one point, robbers hold the three of them at gunpoint and steal their gasoline reserves. Realizing that without fuel they are doomed, Will chases and finally catches up with the fleeing car. Ricki shoots out the other car's tires, causing the thieves' vehicle to flip over. With the surrounding fire and the flipped car's leaking gas tank, they barely have enough time to take their gasoline back before the car explodes, resulting in the robbers' deaths. Later that night, upset over the consequences of her actions, Ricki leaves Tom and Will.

The next day Tom's lung collapses, preventing him from breathing. Will performs a needle thoracostomy to help him. Sensing that Tom will die without medical help, the two of them bond, and Will finally feels that Tom approves of his relationship with Sam. On a bridge, they encounter a gang of armed men on motorcycles. The two of them work together to evade the gang, but Tom succumbs to his wounds and dies. The car breaks down, and Will continues the journey on foot.

A family picks Will up, and he leads them to his estranged father's empty house in Idaho where they all rest. Will strikes a deal with the family for him to take their four wheel drive vehicle in exchange for them staying at his father's well-stocked house until they are ready to go north, where they hear the situation is better. As he gets closer to Seattle, Will sees that the city is almost completely destroyed. Finally reaching Sam's devastated apartment, Will sees a note left by Sam with an address to a cabin.

At the cabin, Will finds Sam with Jeremiah, a neighbor from the apartment building. Convinced that the disaster is not natural but the result of an elaborate attack, Jeremiah reveals a deep paranoia. The next morning, Jeremiah attempts to kill Will, having fallen in love with Sam. Will shoots him as he turns to fire his pistol. Soon after, an earthquake triggers a large eruption, causing a pyroclastic flow. Will and Sam speed away from the all-engulfing cloud, barely staying ahead of it but managing to out-distance it as it subsides. The couple proclaim their love for one another, regardless of what happens next, as they, too, head north.



On March 19, 2011, it was announced that Sierra/Affinity was developing an action thriller film How It Ends based on the 2010 Black List script by Brooks McLaren, and it would be produced by Paul Schiff and Tai Duncan through Paul Schiff Productions.[1] On December 1, 2015, David M. Rosenthal came on board to direct the film, while Sierra Pictures, which developed the project, would also produce the film and fully finance it.[2] On January 4, 2017, Netflix acquired worldwide rights to the film.[3] In June 2017, Theo James, Forest Whitaker, and Kat Graham were cast in the film.[4][5][6] In September 2017, Mark O'Brien was cast in the film.[7]


Principal photography took place in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada in August 2017.[8]


The first full-length trailer was released by Netflix on June 22, 2018.[9] The film was released on July 13, 2018.[10]


How It Ends received negative reviews. On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 17%, based on 18 reviews, with an average rating of 3.04/10.[11] Metacritic gives the film a weighted average score of 36 out of 100, based on 5 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".[12]


  1. ^ McNary, Dave (March 19, 2011). "Sierra/Affinity likes 'How It Ends'". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved December 2, 2015.
  2. ^ Hipes, Patrick (December 1, 2015). "'The Perfect Guy' Director David M Rosenthal Perfect For 'How It Ends'". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved December 2, 2015.
  3. ^ Hipes, Patrick (January 4, 2017). "Netflix Lands Rights To 'How It Ends,' Black List Pic From Sierra/Affinity". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved January 25, 2017.
  4. ^ Hipes, Patrick (June 5, 2017). "Theo James To Star In Netflix Thriller 'How It Ends'". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved January 25, 2017.
  5. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (June 8, 2017). "Forest Whitaker Joins Action-Thriller 'How It Ends'". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved January 25, 2017.
  6. ^ Nyren, Erin (June 21, 2017). "Kat Graham Joins Forest Whitaker, Theo James in Netflix's 'How It Ends' (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved January 25, 2017.
  7. ^ N'Duka, Amanad (September 8, 2017). "Camille Guaty Joins 'Nappily Ever After'; 'Boy Erased' Adds Madelyn Cline; Mark O'Brien Cast In 'How It Ends'". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved January 25, 2017.
  8. ^ Uncredited (August 4, 2017). "Netflix movie looking for background performers". The Brandon Sun. Retrieved January 25, 2018.
  9. ^ Foutch, Haleigh (June 22, 2018). "Exclusive 'How It Ends' Trailer Reveals Netflix's Action-Packed Apocalypse Movie". Collider. Complex Media. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  10. ^ Parfitt, Orlando (January 22, 2018). "15 Netflix Original movies to look out for in 2018". Screen Daily. Screen International. Retrieved January 22, 2018.
  11. ^ "How It Ends (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved April 10, 2020.
  12. ^ "How It Ends Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved July 16, 2018.

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