Thursday, 12 July 2018


Justin and Aaron are brothers who escaped from a UFO cult when they were younger. They are living a dead-end life in menial jobs when they receive an old VHS tape which comes from the cult, and implies the 'ascension' for which they were waiting is about to happen. Aaron, the younger brother, is intrigued, and wants to go back to investigate, 'just for a day', as if he were more than curious, maybe homesick. Justin, the older, is the one who engineered their escape, and never wants to return, but as protective he is of his brother, so too is he concerned not to turn this perhaps innocent desire into some bigger resentment.

When they arrive, it is as if nothing has changed, including the people who seem no older than when they left. They are welcoming, if in occasionally confrontational ways. It's run like a commune, it's almost self-sufficient (they make and sell beer) and they have a very groovy red weed to smoke. Aaron is entranced, especially by Anna, who denies sending them the video while Justin remains suspicious, but agrees to extend their stay, a day at a time. Until things start to get really weird.

The Endless is a low-budget film that I suppose should be called horror, but like the best horror it is not about shock, but about other things. What makes it fascinating is the fact that it was directed by the two stars, Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, written by Benson, and shot by Moorhead. Since the core of the story is the filial relationship, the closeness of the actors is obvious, but what is really important is that The Endless relies on ambiguity, and the way the script and the camera work dovetail so nicely helps make that ambiguity work.

I haven't seen either of their first two films, but apparently this one exists in a similar universe to tetheir first, Resolution, with cast members reappearing in similar roles, while their second film, Spring, is described as being Lovecraftian, and that sort of dark fantasy is one of the ways you can read The Endless. Is it a modern thriller about a hive-mind commune/cult? a paradoxical Twilight Zone style sf story? An H.P. Lovecraft kind of essay in hidden evil? Or all those things?

At times it can wander, like an overlong Twilight Zone episode, and repition is necessary to the story. Usually we are kept guessing and intrigued. The leads are good: Aaron had a Ron Howard kind of innocence about him while Justin is somewhere on the Giamatti/Gyllenhall scale. Tate Ellington is creepily nice as the cult leader: we could be in The Witness at first; while Callie Hernandez adds just a hint of danger to an excellent turn as the innocently seductive Anna. The directors keep things moving add dark humour, and work very hard and intelligently to keep you guessing by giving you visual clues, mirrored images and scenes, and yes, ambiguities. It feels like a bigger-budget film, but more importantly it feels like a more thoughtful film, and I'm going to seek out their earlier work. It's dropped a bit beneath the radar since its release in the UK, but it's certainly worth your time. I predict this is going to become a cult film in both senses of the word.

1 comment :

Unknown said...

megashare9 - After viewing a large number of horror/sci-fi movies, the plots tend to bleed into each other. Everything seems to be derivative and formulaic. This is not that kind of movie. It is very original and kept my attention the entire running. It is sooo refreshing to see new ideas in my beloved genre. That being said, not all your questions will be answered. It will be a bit confusing at time, but I will gladly forgive those minor flaws for originality, great acting, and a well done movie. I highly recommend this movie to those seeking something different that is well done and very engaging. I've been a big fan of the director's other works such as VHS: Viral, Dementia and Spring. Give them a look if you get a chance. I might just have to see this again with my horror friends. It's a great movie.
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