In the first trailer and poster for Netflix’s doomsday film How It Ends, personal bonds are contrasted with intense apocalyptic imagery.
Directed by David H. Rosenthal, How It Ends stars Divergent franchise actor Theo James as a man who suddenly loses contact with his pregnant wife (Kat Graham) during a catastrophic event. Incidentally, he’s forced to strategize with his estranged father-in-law, portrayed by Oscar winner Forrest Whitaker, for a 2,000 mile trek across the United States. How It Ends was filmed in Winnipeg and co-stars Halt and Catch Fire’s Kerry Bishé.
Today, Netflix released How It Ends’ first trailer and poster. In the clip, family dynamics are immediately emphasized, thus setting the context for the separation between Whitaker and Graham’s characters. Most importantly, the underlying conflict parallels the subsequent end-of-days visuals that raise the stakes even further. Take a look at the trailer above and the poster below.
While the trailer utilizes a formulaic approach with the storyline and images, it does increasingly build suspense by highlighting Whitaker’s natural on-screen charisma as a morally conflicted individual, along with the importance of the character’s practical way of thinking during such a crisis. As a result, the collective character archetypes receive a boost, leading to a terrifying final sequence that showcases breathtaking cinematography and all its visceral power. The film’s poster also contrasts stoicism with practicality, only the roles are reversed for Whitaker and James.
Written by Brooks McLaren, How It Ends was developed because of the script’s popularity on the annual survey known as “The Black List.” In 2010, How It Ends was featured along with screenplays for future box office hits like Argo, American Hustle and The Hunger Games. While the Netflix movie is McLaren’s first feature, he’s already been selected to write Millennium Films’ upcoming reboot Rambo 5, which originally wasn’t supposed to star Sylvester Stallone in a reprising role. However, the narrative has shifted in recent weeks, as Stallone not only confirmed his involvement, but also tweeted out a teaser poster. Based on How It Ends’ success on Netflix, McLaren and Stallone may have another marketing tool to promote their collaboration.
Theoretically, How It Ends will likely have intriguing dialogue to match the explosive visuals, at least given the hype around McLaren’s script. But the first trailer emphasizes bold visuals over bold dialogue, aside from Whitaker’s emphatic statement: “Are you coming with me?” Perhaps that's the key for Netflix: Whitaker's appeal as both a sympathetic yet flawed character, along with his ability to improvise scripted dialogue and deliver a classic line. Let’s see if audiences embrace the narrative journey.
How It Ends will be available to stream July 13 on Netflix.