(Canada, 83 min.)
Dir. Jennifer Liao, Writ. Christina Ray
Starring: Carolyne Maraghi, Mark O’Brien, Paulino Nunes, Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, Janet Porter, Anna Ferguson, Yulia Petrauskas
What’s worse: living a boring 9 to 5 existence or going down in the apocalypse? The end is nigh in the Canuck comedy End of Days, Inc., which puts a quartet of worker drones in the hellish flames of a workplace that just might be run by Satan. The minions of Godfrey Global close up shop on their last day of work, but they receive an odd proposal from the boss Mr. Godfrey (Paulino Nunes) who insists they all attend a farewell party to receive their final paychecks. Sometimes it’s best to punch out and take a loss.
Checking out might be the better option here since End of Days, Inc. doesn’t deliver on the potential of its premise. The film shows a lot of promise for director Jennifer Liao as she creates a speculative atmosphere out of virtually nothing except for a bizarre script and some wackadoodle performances, but this lo-fi maplecore pic has too many inconsistencies in tone to be weirdly funny or compellingly provocative. It’s at least intriguing for a while as the employees of Godfrey Global—square yes-woman Janet (Carolyne Maraghi), stiff dweeb Jason (Mark O’Brien), saucy receptionist Misty (Janet Porter), and uptight ass-kisser Mort (Paul Sun-Hyung Lee)—try to decide just what the heck is going on as Godfrey and his sister/partner-in-crime Esther (Anna Ferguson) task the workers with a final assignment.
Things get really weird as Godfrey starts punching holes in the stock cards that flutter about the building and as news comes over the radio waves reporting a fluctuating toll of catastrophes. There might be better material for a short in End of Days, Inc. since the film struggles to maintain the mysterious atmosphere and farcical beat. A few too many moments are desperate, like one scene in which a zombified employee eats a used condom in the supply closet, while most other jokes simply play like filler and land with a thud. Ferguson, however, has the right calibre of macabre humour among the cast to sell the part of Esther with ghoulish novelty, but other players might have viewers searching their bags for hole punchers. The silver lining is some confetti to celebrate the end.
End of Days, Inc. opens in Toronto at the Carlton on Feb. 19.
Director Jennifer Liao will attend the Friday 7:00 PM screening for a Q&A with producer Sandy Kellerman and actors Carolyne Maraghi, Paulino Nunes, Janet Porter, Anna Ferguson, Yulia Petrauskas