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THE ENDLESS (2017))
Directed by Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead
Written by Justin Benson
Starring Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead, Tate Ellington, Callie Hernandez, Emily Montague, Lew Temple, James Jordan, Kira Powell, Vinny Curran, Peter Cilella, Shane Brady, Ric Sarabia, David Lawson Jr., Glen Roberts
Having a brother myself, I often find myself enamored with films about siblings as I feel this is a complex relationship that defies explanation and worth examining. That’s what THE ENDLESS is about at its core—the relationship between two people who know each other better than anyone else. Aside from the otherdimensional portals, kooky cult activity, and general weirdness that pops up in this film, the relationship between two brothers is what it is all about. Focusing on this genuine nugget of emotion makes the film resonate far beyond all of the supernatural or psychologically horrific elements.
Brothers Justin (filmmaker Justin Benson) and Aaron (filmmaker Aaron Moorehead), left a cult a time ago and are struggling making a living while trying to continue their therapy sessions that attempt to help them acclimate to the real world. When a mysterious tape arrives at their home, Aaron is tempted to return to the cult as he does not remember much of his time there due to the fact that he was younger than the more world-savvy Justin. Though Justin is hesitant to agree, he decides to help his brother by allowing him to actually see the cult himself and see how weird it was in hopes that this would be the end of it. But upon returning to the commune, Aaron’s interests are piqued at the simple life without the worries of making rent, paying for car payments, and working in a job he hates. Justin is still leery and the odd phenomenon occurring in the periphery is not helping to convince him. As both brothers become re-embroiled in this cult, they find that the longer they stay at the commune, the less likely it is they will ever be able to leave.
Now, when I heard that Benson and Moorehead were starring in this film themselves, despite meeting these two at two of my Comic Con Reinventing Horror panels and knowing they were two helluva skilled filmmakers, I was a bit worried that they had bitten off more than they could chew giving themselves the leads. Turns out my concern was all for naught. The two filmmakers do a fantastic job of basically playing themselves. Justin Benson seems comfortable as the overly serious brother Justin, who feels responsible for his more aloof and less savvy to the world brother Aaron (played by Aaron Moorehead). The two riff off of each other comfortably and since the pairing has been making movies together for years, that relationship shines on the screen. I think the filmmakers made a great decision to star themselves in THE ENDLESS as their comfortability with each other and the subject matter makes all of it a much easier pill to swallow.
Functioning within the same universe that RESOLUTION exists in, THE ENDLESS’ odd circular effects and mysterious threats of an invisible monster are not the typical stuff of mainstream horror. Dipping a pinky toe in the valley of Lovecraft, the film tells a wonderfully down to earth tale of time loops and traps. The film explains as much as it can what these anomalies are, but in a sense that no one really understands what is truly going on and only tries to hypothesize about it. There are no science types monologuing about wormholes. It’s just people on the ground reacting to some pretty marvelous things that defy rational explanation. We share this wonder and fear along with the characters. The film ends up being a metaphorical way of looking at life and it’s stated pretty clearly in the arguments between Aaron and Justin as they decide whether to leave or stay at the commune. Would you rather stay in a loop of infinite happiness and no surprises or take the chance to live life and be surprised with the benefits that comes from all of the possibilities it offers? THE ENDLESS becomes a choice between what would you rather choose for your life; predictable order or surprising chaos. It’s a compelling tale to tell, one made more compelling when it is a decision made between two people who are intrinsically linked and are attracted to polar opposites of the argument.
As a whole, THE ENDLESS is a visually stimulating and utterly compelling tale tacking some heavy thematics. I was completely invested in the fates of these two brothers and found myself wanting to call my own brother at the end and urge him to watch it (as we, like the brothers in the film, have differing views of the world). As with RESOLUTION, Benson and Moorehead take on some wonderfully fun and trippy concepts, but on a level that never gets too heady or obtuse. Things happens for a reason. These filmmakers have mapped out a world that never feels like they are just making shit up as they go along. There are some surprises in this film that are going to make you smile and gasp in awe, especially if you’ve seen the filmmakers’ other works. THE ENDLESS is a thoroughly entertaining film, made so by the acting, the story, the conflict, and the down to earth way the whole thing unfolds. Highly recommended.
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