Here’s the thing about the golden age of drama we’re currently living in: it has put movies on the back-foot. Which would be a really good analogy if The Endless were a boxing movie.
But it’s not. It’s not even a horror movie – but we’ll circle back to that.
Back to high end TV drama and their ability to craft complex story-lines and characters over a solid (but not too long) period of time. It’s clear these days movies (with their relatively short 2-3 hour sittings) are losing ground as a “competing” format.
It did have cinematic-ness in its corner (which is a real word, no need to look it up) until CGI balanced that ledger too. Sure as a science and an art-form computer imagery is still evolving, but if done right, big screen special FX can be just a mouse click away for even the tiniest micro-budget film.
So what do these two developments have to do with The Endless – the latest offerings from Indie filmmakers Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson?
Well for a start it has the 5D aesthetic of an Indie offering (although no doubt it was shot on a much bigger gauge) but towards the end it has surprising quality special FX for a movie that initially looks so sparse, it almost feels like a found footage film!
And secondly it is an adjunct to Moorhead and Benson’s 2012 effort, Resolution. By that I mean The Endless takes place parallel to the events in Resolution (and literally about a block away from it).
So yes – The Endless is a cross-over film. And this brings me to an interesting thing film has done to “push back” against the serialised superiority of TV drama. And that’s franchising, i.e. Movies that aren’t sequels per se, ‘cause not all sequels respect or even acknowledge films in their own canon (James Bond much?) but rather ‘share the same universe’.
Marvel are the current bar setters of this trend, and movie studios everywhere are following suit (lack of originality will ‘always’ be a universal constant with Hollywood).
But it also appears independent filmmakers don’t need an excuse to franchise off their own bat. Which would have helped to know in advance when events from The Endless crossed over into Resolution.
But on with some actual review stuff! The Endless centres around 2 cult “survivors” (played by Moorhead and Benson themselves). They are brothers trying to subsist in an ‘ordinary world’ that cult living failed to prepare them for.
The younger brother especially (Aaron played by Aaron) feels rudderless and out of sync, and retains more good memories about the compound they grew up in, and as such convinces his older brother Justin (played by Justin) to go back and visit for a day or two.
This is after they mysteriously receive a VHS tape featuring a woman who used to babysit them there (played by Callie Hernandez of Blair Witch and Alien Covenant fame).
And this is where the first confusion sets in, as all the characters we meet ‘appear’ to be roughly the same age. Throw in the fact that the boys themselves seem to have left the compound in the 90’s (if news footage of them exiting is to be believed) yet they themselves look to not have aged a day in 20 years.
Yet continual references by Justin to his younger brother that there appears to be a “spark” between him and their former sitter seem odd, as Hernandez looks several years younger than both of them. Yet no one makes any attempt to explain these discrepancies in any sort of story-telling capacity; and so you’re left confused. No doubt this is a deliberate ploy from the filmmaking duo who brought us the Bonestorm segment from VHS Viral, but unfortunately it does tend to come across as if the film is gleefully disappearing up its own mythos (something re-enforced when it crosses over into Resolution).
Now despite all this, The Endless does evolve at an intriguing pace and is a sci-fi page turner that has the courage to be both sparse and visually spectacular where it needs to be. Something ‘is’ going on at the compound, and you ‘do’ want to see it to the end.
The movie’s central theme is time, whereas Resolution was story. Where & when they cross over – once you know what’s going on – does work.
But is it a horror film? Not by a long stretch. Is it worth seeing? Definitely.
– Antony Yee