When Today Ends
Heavy-handed but eye-opening drama about teen suicide.
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When Today Ends
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that When Today Ends is a scripted indie drama about teen suicide, entirely shot handheld style as a series of selfie faux-livestreams. The movie begins with one teen shooting herself in the mouth, blood splattering on the wall behind her. The other main characters kill themselves in different ways (one hangs himself, another jumps from a rooftop, and the fourth also shoots himself). Each suffer from horrible family, home, and school environments that don't understand, accept, or help any of them. Each teen shows daily life clips of their experiences, all of which show harassment, assault, abuse, hate crimes, hateful language, antigay perspectives, depression, and failed parenting and teaching. There are a few intense hate crime scenes of assault and violence, and one rape (not shown). One teen implies child abuse. Incredibly strong language throughout ("f--k," "s--t," "p---y," "bitch," "a--hole," "slut") including lots of "f-g" and "f--got." Teens smoke weed, drink alcohol, and some are briefly shown snorting lines of cocaine.
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What's the Story?
In WHEN TODAY ENDS, four teens, Nicole (Gavin Leatherwood), James (Derick Breezee), Jenna (Jacqi Vene), and Megan (Angel Guadalupe), experience bullying behavior from their peers, parents, and even teachers. Some of them are assaulted, beaten, and harassed. Some of the teens identify as LGBQT+ and another suffers from depression because of child abuse in the past. While there is no story, each teen reveals their daily unfair, scary, and generally bad experiences.
Is It Any Good?
Taken as a movie that specifically targets teens, this fake "found footage" style drama makes more sense. In a vacuum, When Today Ends isn't a great movie, as it's incredibly heavy-handed and at times overwrought. Further, it doesn't even have a story. The film is a series of selfie livestreams, each showing different day in the life moments of the main characters, most of which involve harassment, assault, hateful language, and bullying behavior. However, viewing this movie as a kind of public service announcement meant to teach teens (and any adult caught up along the way) about the effect and harm hateful language and behavior can and does have, then the movie should be seen and praised. It does showcase some brave and committed acting (if not fully there yet), and it gives plenty of time to family and school scenes of hateful language, harassment, shaming, and assault.
The main problem is that the emotional impact this movie desires and deserves isn't there. This drama cannot be compared to something like Bullied, a terrifying, brutal, and tragic documentary about youth and teen suicide that features lots of actual footage of harassment, assault, and bullying behavior, most of which was shot by other kids filming with their phones. One major difference immediately clear is how much more terrifying and brutal the real-life footage of bullying behavior, harassment, and assault is than anything When Today Ends shows.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about teen and youth suicide. Given When Today Ends has an openly strong message, do you think it was successful in representing that message? Why or why not?
What else might any one of the main characters have done in their situations? Also, why might this question be problematic? Do you think it is?
Why do you think the film ended up being a series of horrible experiences, rather than an actual story? Did you find this structure effective? Why or why not?
. What should you do if you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts?
- On DVD or streaming: May 14, 2021
- Cast: Gavin Leatherwood, Derick Breezee, Jacqi Vene, Angel Guadalupe
- Director: Michael Leoni
- Studio: Kandoo Films
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Activism, High School
- Run time: 97 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: November 2, 2022
Our Editors Recommend
Vital, tragic, brutal look at rise of youth suicide.
Powerful docu addresses critically important issue for kids.
Emotional movie raises issues of online safety for teens.
For kids who love dramas
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