An asteroid is on the way, and the end of the world is imminent. As in tomorrow. What would you do? What would you wear? Who would you confess your undying love to? Would you spend it alone, indulging in eating every meal you ever wanted? Or would you spend it at a big party with a bunch of friends? Liza (Zoe Lister-Jones) declares that she “just wants to get really f–ing high until I puke and then die.” She is totally fine with spending her last moments staring down impending doom, wallowing. However, a manifestation of her younger self, (Cailee Spaeny) won’t let this happen. After all, Liza lives in LA and there’s a big end-of-the-world party happening. Somehow, younger Liza gets current Liza out and about. On the way to that party, Liza completes a visual to-do list or remaining day bucket list. All the while learning more about herself and unpacking some previous traumas.
Made during the COVID-19 pandemic, How It Ends literally keeps everything at a distance. Most of the film has Lister-Jones and Spaeny walking through the streets of LA, having many interactions with people from Liza’s past; whether it be ex-boyfriend’s, her parents, old dates, and friends. This film has a who’s who of cameos ranging from Nick Kroll, Helen Hunt, Olivia Wilde, Pauly Shore as himself, and more. Some of these people Liza knows, and some she doesn’t. A lot of comedic interactions references things from the 90s in parody such as the boombox in Say Anything or Alanis Morissette‘s ‘You Oughta Know.” How It Ends switches from playful banter where some sections may run on. Then slows down to have moments that dive into why Liza is the way she is.
The major hook of the film are the performances of Lister-Jones and Spaeny. Younger Liza strives to push her current self out of her comfort zone and have the conversations she’s wanted to have. Even if it’s all in one day under the threat of an asteroid. She’s the carefree and brave part of Liza that she’s forgotten. At some points, current Liza pushes back on this. The trials and tribulations of everyday life have hardened her to where everything that makes her younger self great is gone within her. Each part of Liza has something to learn from one another. Current Liza gets to regain that optimism she had when she was younger. Younger Liza gets to emphasize that all these regrets have added up and frozen her older self into suspension. How It Ends shines when the two have time to explore that on their own.
As time is almost up, it feels like just about every meaningful conversation has been had. Or as many as you can within a day. In a time when the world is still trying to crawl back into being together again within the pandemic, it’s safe to say we’ve all done some soul-searching. Isolation will do that to you. When all you have is your thoughts, you try to figure out what you would do better. Written by Lister-Jones and Daryl Wein, How It Ends uses its limited setting to ask those very questions. Perhaps, you will both find some answers together.