The Endless Movie Review
Written by Ryan Holloway
Released by Arrow Films
Directed by Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead
Written by Justin Benson
2018, 111 minutes, Rated 15 (UK)
Released in cinemas and on digital 29th June and on Blu-ray/ DVD 2nd July 2018
Justin Benson as Justin Smith
Aaron Moorhead as Aaron Smith
Callie Hernandez as Anna
James Jordan as Shitty Carl
Lew Temple as Tim
Tate Ellington as Hal
Emily Montague as Jennifer Danube
Benson and Moorhead’s 2014 movie Spring was quietly effective with wistful performances from its two believable leads. The Endless is similar with its hazy romantic sense of reality but delves a little deeper into Lovecraftian science fiction territory.
The film sees brothers Justin (Benson) and Aaron (Moorhead) trying to get their lives back together 10 years after fleeing from a ‘crazy UFO death cult.’ When they receive a mysterious videotape in the mail inviting them back to attend an event called ‘The Ascension’ they agree to return for a day, despite the protests of older brother Justin.
When they arrive back at the farm their old friends seem warm and welcoming but things soon begin to turn strange as the two brothers find themselves drawn into a bubble of bizarre rituals and strange messages from an invisible force as reality becomes distorted and dangerous.
What Benson and Moorhead are good at is drawing human characters and creating an acute sense of realism that is very efficient at pulling you in quickly, and hypnotically, into a world that seems welcoming but slightly off kilter.
As the brothers travel back to the place they called home for ten years we get a real sense of a strong brotherly bond that has become strained by a decision that has plagued them ever since their departure.
Older brother Justin broke them out of the cult, and now time has passed, Aaron, who was too young to truly understand the ways of the world, begins to question everything that went on. Justin has filled his head with stories about the farm, which include details such as the castration of everyone in the community, but all Aaron remembers is evenings by a campfire, good food and a feeling of family.
Once back on the farm things slowly but surely become peculiar and the behaviour of the community members becomes increasingly alien, as it is clear that a dark secret is being kept out of sight from the returning brothers.
Despite ten years passing, the community members all look the same and haven’t aged a day, which they put down to a healthy lifestyle. Refusing to be sucked back into their world Justin remains distant, questioning everything and trying to keep his brother’s head back home where he hopes it still belongs.
Aaron still only sees what he wants to see and falls back in love, not only with the camp, but also with the local seamstress, Allie, played by the always-wonderful Callie Hernandez who oozes effortless charm.
Cutaways to characters looking mysterious and the not so subtle two moons in the night sky conjure up questions that no one can answer and as things get more difficult to explain Justin starts to grow more anxious, especially with his brother pulling away from him.
One night Justin gets chatting to a nervous woman sitting on her own away from the others who turns out to not be part of the camp but someone looking for her missing husband. Now convinced something sinister is brewing at the camp, Justin needs to get his brother back on his side but with his own lies about the camp being torn down, his brother is now even more adamant he is going to stay and Justin makes the difficult decision to get away, and fast.
Of course its not going to be that easy to leave and when a fleeing Justin meets an angry man on the outskirts of the camp, Shitty Carl (Jordan), who does his best to explain what is going on, the last act kicks into gear and the unreality of the situation becomes crashing down.
It’s here that the film loses its identity. Starting out calm and eerie, with a deliciously high level of intrigue, the film then descends into something of a comedy mess that tries so hard to explain itself that it gets stuck into a corner that it can’t back out of.
The Endless works best when concentrating on the human interactions but when dealing with the story’s larger purpose it frustratingly struggles.
Clever at times and emotional in others, Moorhead and Benson’s third feature doesn’t quite live up to the hype and lacks the coherence to become a true sci-fi classic. They do remain, however, directors who should be closely watched, as there is certainly more to come from this obviously talented duo.
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