Thursday 5 March 2020

The Endless (2017)

Reason to watch a movie #8 - being about to attend a movie festival featuring the work of someone you admire and realising that you STILL haven't caught up on their last feature. That's what led me to finally watching The Endless (after a rewatch of Resolution, a film which has only gone up in my estimation since my first viewing of it). I'd heard this has connections to the earlier film. It has. Strong connections. I am glad I rewatched that one before I put this one on, and advise others to do the same, if enough time has passed for you to forget the details of Resolution.

Once again co-directed by Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, and once again written by Benson, this also stars the two men in the main roles, playing brothers imaginatively named Aaron and Justin (I think you can guess who plays who). Justin is the older brother, and he's the one who pulled Aaron safely out of what is best described as a strange death cult. After they receive a video about the current state of the cult, Justin thinks it may do them good to return to visit the cult, to show Aaron what he escaped and to draw a line in the sand. But it turns out that returning just allows the men to see with adult eyes things that they found a lot easier to accept as youngsters. It also places them in close proximity to areas where time seems to run very oddly, to put it mildly.

More sci-fi and fantasy than outright horror, The Endless continues the winning streak from Benson and Moorhead that has them delivering quality content for adults without resorting to the usual bag of tricks we see in so many other horror movies. They consistently deliver thoughtful and relatable moments that just happen to take place in an environment that also contains elements of the supernatural and monstrous. Resolution was about friendship, Spring was about love (and grief), and The Endless is about the bond between siblings, the protective role of the older brother, and those timey wimey shenanigans.

I'm not going to say that I was able to keep track of this throughout, it's a slippery bugger, sometimes seeming more interested in providing interesting moments to mess with your mind than giving you a puzzle that fits together smoothly and completely, but enough markers are dotted throughout the script to keep things intriguing as we move through a plot that becomes more and more urgent on the way to a grand finale that you just know could prove heartbreaking and deadly.

When it comes to the acting, the two film-makers don't do a bad job. They have a good chemistry in their lead roles, and the writing helps them to feel realistically like brothers. Tate Ellington is excellent as Hal, the sorta-nominated leader of the cult, Callie Hernandez and Kira Powell are both decent as Anna and Lizzy, with the latter clueing viewers in to the initial links to Resolution, and both Shane Brady and Lew Temple look slightly suspicious for almost every moment they are onscreen, while James Jordan plays someone understandable angry as he remains aware of the strange time trickery going on in the area.

Nicely constructed, both in terms of the main storyline and how things dovetail nicely with the events we already saw in Resolution, The Endless may well be the best yet from Benson and Moorhead. I'll need to give it a rewatch soon, but it's a film I will enjoy revisiting. Much like every other film they've worked on together to give us so far.


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