Downtrodden brothers Justin and Aaron receive a Videotape from the commune they fled a decade earlier. Still traumatised and discombobulated from the experience they decide upon a closure seeking re-visit to Camp Arcadia.
Is the halcyon hippie collective a viable alternative to the unhealthy ideals of modern society or a manipulative front to launder the deeply sinister agenda of a UFO suicide cult?
The Endless opens with a rare beast indeed in the form of a title card depicting quotes that are actually relevant to the film’s narrative, values and tone rather than a tacked-on attempt to garner intellectual kudos. An introductory gambit that is typical of the demiurgic integrity that drives this high concept Sci-Fi horror movie.
With the directors playing the leads The Endless could easily have sagged depressingly into a mire of budget saving meta mediocrity. However, like the use of House of the Rising Sun the lyrics to which dwell in the public domain, the decision is as artistically shrewd as it is parsimonious.
Worse still the entire exercise could have exploded titanically in an all too common supernova of smugness. Conversely, the chemistry between the two is smooth and believable resulting in a rich theoretical mural where a sketchy vanity project should be.
The remaining casting is exemplary as we are introduced to a plethora of characters that would outweird the guests at a David Lynch coffee and quaaludes morning. These wacky encounters provide many of the film’s best WTF moments and are intrinsic to the idiosyncratic resonance of The Endless.
Although set in an overlapping partition of the same universe, and heavily dependant on the same mythological lineage it is not essential to have seen their previous indie effort Resolution. If you haven’t then the sequential curlicues and narrative curve balls will seem all the more crisply rousing. If you have then you will be delighted by the cinematic callbacks and head spinning reveals that add extra depth and immersion.
The Endless will be accused of being slow and of course, one person’s hypnotic fever dream haunted by the fear of the unknown is another’s plodding modernist mumblecore. However, the visuals consistently ripen into almost accidental gorgeousness, the dialogue is frugal and authentic and the rug-pulling evenly seeded so the pacing never seems laboured.
The Endless will also stand accused of not being a horror movie at all as is the current trend. The pervading sense of creeping doom, pant shitting jump scares, horrific time-loop limbos and monster in the woods antics will provide weighty evidence in its defence.
What impresses most about this audaciously brave flick is the breadth and complexity it demonstrates as it rummages around an adventurous toy-box of profundity. The conservation of family versus self-preservation. The lengths the human psyche will stretch to assume the illusion of control – even for the briefest of moments. The fragility of both forgiveness and belief. But above all, the infectious twin evils of nostalgia and conformity.
Quirky and fresh this genre gem could only have been mined from the rich seams of truly independent cinema – where filmmakers can cut and polish chosen facets to crystalise their original creative vision.
Serene in its abstraction The Endless prefers playful empathy to showy pretention. It enables a warmly inclusive philosophical nucleus that renders the film highly loveable alongside a plasmic intelligence that makes it a joy to decrypt and interpret.
Benson and Moorhead have devotedly crafted the best cult film of the year, in both senses of the word, and the most blissfully head fucking time twister since Donnie Darko.
Bradley Hadcroft |
Death Cult, Time Travel, Horror Thriller | USA, 2017 | 111 mins | – Strong language, threat, drug misuse | Arrow Films |UK CINEMA & DOWNLOAD. 29th June 2018 | Blu-Ray & DVD. 2nd July 2018 | Dir. Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead | Cast.Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead, Callie Hernandez, Tate Ellington | BUY HERE