Film review: THE ENDLESS, by Nick Gardener from ‘Built For Speed’

Some may recall filmmakers Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead’s intriguing and perplexing doomsday cult drama Resolution from 2012. While not a sequel to that film, sci-fi/ horror flick The Endless explores a similar world in equally odd, brain-twisting fashion.

This is one of those labour of love movie projects in which the producers, in this case Benson and Moorhead, are also the writers, directors and stars. The two play brothers Justin and Aaron Smith who, some years earlier, escaped a UFO cult that had set up a creepy commune in a remote Californian forest. While glad to have freed themselves from the cult’s clutches, the two 30-something hipsters and in particular Aaron, have become increasingly disillusioned with their lives as cleaners. When a mysterious video arrives featuring an attractive female cult member, they decide to revisit the group. At first their experience is something like a school camp but as their stay extends, strange events start to occur: people seem to vanish into thin air, objects appear from nowhere and there are two moons in the sky. Then it gets weirder. Are the two young guys victims of drug-induced hallucinations, mass hypnotic suggestions or is it all the work of a supernatural power and possibly a giant monster living in the forest?

This is one of those films where half way through the audience is asking ‘what the hell is going on?’. It becomes increasingly strange as, like the TV show Lost, it mixes the personal drama of self-discovery with sci-fi mystery.

With it’s washed-out colour, the film has the look of a fading memory which adds another layer of intrigue. Having established a relatively benign, even appealing, setting of country roads and forest camp sites, Benson and Moorhead introduce other-worldly elements with subtle but unnerving effectiveness; they also throw in pop out scares to raise the anxiety level.

The film would have been more potent had the lead characters been more sympathetic. Aaron and particularly Justin are a little whiny and irritating and there isn’t enough sense of deep psychological wounds that might have made their return to the camp more compelling.

Still, The Endless is intriguing and inventive enough to keep audiences feverishly guessing throughout its near two hour running time.

Nick’s rating: ***1/2

Genre: Sci-fi/ horror.

Classification: M.

Director(s): Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead.

Release date: 15th Mar 2018.

Running time: 111 mins.

Reviewer: Nick Gardener can be heard on “Built For Speed” every Friday night from 8-10pm right here on 88.3 Southern FM.  Nick can also be heard on “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Film Show” podcast.


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Songs of Hope prayer psalm for Sunday 15Apr18 was Psalm 10, a prayer for help


WRITE NOW – tonight – my lovely friend, our passionate reader Stewart will talk about his chosen book and I have some interesting articles. Please join me, Gaytana


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Film review: THE DIVINE ORDER, by Nick Gardener from ‘Built For Speed’

It’s staggering to think that as late as 1971 women were not legally entitled to vote in Switzerland. The inspiring, feel-good, if at times predictable, Swiss film Divine Order dramatises the fight for that right.

Set in a picturesque but culturally repressed Swiss village the film stars Marie Leuenberger as Nora, a timid housewife who becomes a beacon for women’s rights. At first alienated from the growing women’s movement of the early 1970’s, Nora begins to change her thinking as she tires of a life making meals and washing socks for her husband, two boys and miserable bullying father-in-law. Wanting to work but being legally banned from doing so without her husband’s (Maximilian Simonischek) permission, Nora’s disenchantment with her lot sees her embrace feminism and cause of women’s suffrage.

Encountering hostile resistance not the least of which comes from hard-bitten town matriarch and head of the women’s social club, Mrs Wipf (Therese Affecter) Nora begins to gather supporters and initiates political action, including strikes, in the name of their cause.

The Divine Order is a familiar but pleasing and at times moving blend of grass roots political activism, personal reinvention, empowerment and female solidarity.

Leunenberger gives Nora a perfectly judged mix of painful self-doubt and growing strength and it’s no coincidence her name evokes Ibsen’s A Doll’s House. Sibylle Brunner is also unforgettable as the no-nonsense Vroni, an older woman damaged by her attempt years earlier to establish an independent life. While many of the males are stereotyped pigs some are allowed more layers than we might have expected. Simonischek is very good as Nora’s husband making him a nuanced character who believes in women’s right to vote but feels compelled to comply with the village’s prevailing patriarchal attitudes.

While shot in a low-key style, the film captures the tumultuous times quite well even though the social revolutions are mostly happening outside the village. For all its political aspirations this is largely a feel-good drama a little like Pride which movingly portrayed the quest for gay rights and workers’ rights in Thatcher’s Britain in the 1980’s.

Well-paced and with fine use of music, The Divine Order is a thoroughly enjoyable piece of cinema although not the potent drama it could have been.

Nick’s rating: ***1/2

Genre: Historical drama.

Classification: M.

Director(s): Petra Biondina Volpe.

Release date: 22nd Mar 2018.

Running time: 96 mins.

Reviewer: Nick Gardener can be heard on “Built For Speed” every Friday night from 8-10pm right here on 88.3 Southern FM.  Nick can also be heard on “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Film Show” podcast.

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