How It Ends
No one survives alone
Will and Samantha (Sam) are a young couple who are expecting their first child. Will flies from Seattle to visit Sam’s parents in Chicago, intending to ask permission to marry Sam from Tom, her disapproving father. At dinner, Will and Tom get into an argument and Will does not mention the pregnancy.
The next day, Sam calls Will before his flight back. There is a mysterious sound and Samantha, scared, says, “Something’s wrong” before the call disconnects and Will cannot call her back. At the airport, all flights are cancelled. During a TV news report that discusses preliminary reports on a seismic event off the West Coast of the United States that has disrupted electrical power and telecommunication, electricity and phone lines in Chicago are disrupted. Will returns to Sam’s parents’ house, where Tom and Will agree to drive together to Seattle to find Sam.
Amidst heavy traffic, Will and Tom discover that soldiers have closed off the interstate highway for safety reasons. Tom manages to persuade them to let his car through. That night, they are pulled over by what appears to be a police patrol but is in actuality an escaped convict with a shotgun. The ensuing firefight results in an accident that fractures Tom’s ribs. Tom knocks out the convict and they use the police cruiser to tow their damaged car to a nearby reservation.
At the reservation, Tom finds a mechanic, Ricki, who fixes the car and agrees to travel with them in case their car breaks down again. The trio set out, making sure to restock for provisions when they can, first at a small town reluctant to help outsiders and again at an abandoned theme park. At one point, robbers hold the three of them at gunpoint and steal their gasoline reserves. Realizing that without fuel they are doomed, Will chases and finally catches up with the fleeing car. Ricki shoots out the other car’s tires, causing the thieves’ vehicle to flip over. With the flipped car’s leaking gas tank and surrounding fire, they barely have enough time to take their gasoline back before the car explodes, resulting in the robbers’ deaths. Later that night, upset over the consequences of her actions, Ricki leaves Tom and Will.
The next day Tom’s lung collapses preventing him from breathing. Will performs a needle thoracostomy to help him. Sensing that Tom will die without medical help, the two of them bond and Will finally feels that Tom approves of his relationship with Sam. On a bridge, they encounter a gang of armed men on motorcycles. The two of them work together to evade the gang, but Tom succumbs to his wounds and dies. The car breaks down and Will continues the journey on foot.
A family picks Will up and he leads them to his estranged father’s empty house in Idaho where they all rest. Will strikes a deal with the family to take their four wheel drive vehicle in exchange for them staying at his father’s well-stocked house until they are ready to go north, where they hear the situation is better. As he gets closer to Seattle, Will sees that the city is almost completely destroyed. Finally reaching Sam’s devastated apartment, Will sees a note left by Sam with an address to a cabin.
At the cabin, Will finds Sam with a neighbor from the apartment building, Jeremiah. Convinced that the disaster is not natural but the result of an elaborate attack, Jeremiah reveals a deep paranoia. The next morning, Jeremiah attempts to kill Will, having fallen in love with Sam. Will shoots him as he turns to fire his pistol. Soon after, an earthquake triggers a large eruption, causing a pyroclastic flow. Will and Sam speed away from the all-engulfing cloud, barely staying ahead of it but managing to out-distance it as it subsides. The couple proclaim their love for one another, regardless of what happens next, as they, too, head north.