This whole mess (in many ways) of a pandemic has pushed those in the arts out of the traditional ways of production into newer ways to get their messages or products across to the public. For film that has meant sometimes going totally digital – meaning the filming and viewing. A perfect example of this is Michael Leoni’s (American Street Kids) film. He wrote and directed When Today Ends and though it covers a topic which has been done before the way he goes about presenting it makes it feel fresh and up to date. It is totally a product of today’s world. Even the way it is filmed – all through the phones or laptops of the young characters – gives it a modern feel.
Four teenagers using social media platforms to interact and engage their peers. Though they don’t know each other, Jenna (Jacqi Vene – Ghost in the Graveyard), Nick (Gavin Leatherwood – from television’s Chilling Adventures of Sabrina), Megan (Angel Guadalupe – first feature film), and James (Derick Breezee – The Wrong Stepfather), are all connected due to their posting under the #WhenTodayEnds. There they share all that is on their hearts and minds. What is going on in their lives, unfiltered. Due to what is happening (in different ways) to all of them, they have decided to take a drastic and tragic action. One there is no coming back from.
Some things are tough to watch, but necessary. This film falls into that category. The stories of the four teenagers here are heartbreaking, each and every one, to watch. You know where it is heading and it is hard to deal with the outcome. Yet, stories like the ones portrayed here are not unusual. They happen all the time today. Around the globe. Teen years are tough. Even though those years do not happen in a bubble or on a deserted island like in the classic novel, Lord of the Flies, much of the behaviours here seem like they do. It is a harsh “environment” being a teen and the abuse and issues they have to deal with even though times are changing and technology has made life easier in many ways, it has also made life a living hell for some teens.
There is a call to action here. For those watching who are not teenagers. For adults to recognize what is going on and be part of the solution. A big part. We cannot plead ignorance about what is going on any more as stories like these ones are becoming all too prevalent. They happen everywhere and every day. Something has to be done. We have to protect teens. Allow them to exist in an environment where they can exist as the young, inexperienced people they are. There are too many instances of bullying, issues with self-identity and depression being more than teenagers can handle. Adults have to step in and protect them. Not turn a blind eye to what is happening.
While in several respects this is not a great film, it is still a necessary one. We need to be shaken out of our slumber. Do something.
When Today Ends is now available in select theatres as well as on VOD.