Movie Review: The Endless (2017)
The Endless popped up on my radar as it's been hyped as a Lovecraftian style sci-fi horror film, and.........sure? Yeah, I guess it is. Insofar as it breaches a bit into cosmic horror, fear of the unknown, existential dread, and all that other good stuff. I think when I hear anyone say 'Lovecraftian' I really want it to be a certain type of thing, and when my narrower view of that thing isn't immediately hit I hem and haw a bit. I also never felt any dread, which is more on me because I'm a little dead inside I guess.
The film follows a pair of brothers (Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, who also directed and produced the film) that were once part of a cult in the middle of nowhere and escaped when young. After 10 years of rejoining society, life is particularly crappy for both of them as they have trouble adjusting. Younger brother Aaron in particular misses life in the cult because it was actually pretty ok compared to life as we know it right now (and hey.....kinda feel ya). After receiving a mysterious tape from said cult about their 'ascension', the brothers come to an agreement to visit them one last time so that older brother Justin can prove they don't need the cult to succeed in life.
Also, I just now realized that the men who directed, produced, and starred in their own movie named their characters after themselves, which is just....ok guys. Were you having trouble reacting to the names of your characters during takes and decided it would be easier if they just had your names? It's, whatever, fine, moving on.
The brothers hit the commune, and this is where it does pick up for me as I enjoyed all the cult members. They're a bit self-aware of themselves, and actor Tate Ellington (above) gives a nice performance as the friendly de facto leader who will pull our main characters aside from time to time and say, "Now I know this is gonna sounds a bit cult-ish..."
From this point forward, strange things start to happen, odd behavior, weird physics, and all the usual hints that there is indeed something in the woods. The movie wears its horror schlock on its sleeve and inserts its own quirky humor, which is probably why I did find myself enjoying it. The trick is, and I guess spoilers start about now, is that it's essentially evil Groundhog Day.
The members of the community haven't really aged a day since the brothers left. Loops of time become prisons for people outside of the main commune, and the clock is ticking for the brothers to get out. The film gets pretty standard at this point, and it lets you know that yes, we all know there's a big creature that's controlling all of this and that we probably won't get to really see it because that's the point, innit?
And that's fine because the film is well put together, has some nice cinematography and visuals, and actually spends the time and develops its main characters. They legit go through arcs and change throughout the story. And I shouldn't sound so surprised about that actually happening but with modern horror films I tend to not be too optimistic.
And I don't mean to be disappointed in all of that because really, that's the kind of filmmaking we want. But seriously yo, I just let me see it, ok?
Like for reals, for the love of god, just...let....me....see.....it.....
FINE. HAVE YOUR EXISTENTIAL DREAD.
Ignore my tantrum, it's a solid movie that's worth seeing. A little over-hyped for my tastes, as one review goes on to say, "The Endless is a true horror masterpiece—a David Lynch meets Stuart Gordon meets Don Coscarelli fever dream of Lovecraftian cosmic horror that demands repeated viewings." Ehhhhhhhhh, ok? It's like a 7/10 for me, but again, I'm dead inside when it comes to most horror.