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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