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The Endless (Blu-ray Review)

For all the praise given to horror films such as A Quiet Place and It in recent months, there have been plenty of smaller voices staking a claim on the genre as well. This month just gave us Ari Aster’s brilliant debut horror film Hereditary, but we also had another very well-reviewed horror film come out the same day as John Krasinski’s horror blockbuster. That would be The Endless, the latest film from the directing duo Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead. The two have been quietly directing some interesting underground genre features, and this is their most recent dive into trippy territory on a low budget, which is now available on a solid Blu-ray disc.

 

Film:

The Endless stars Benson and Moorhead as brothers Justin and Aaron Smith. Years prior, Justin took his brother away from the UFO death cult they were both a part of, only to find themselves now heading back to find closure. Once back in the camp, the two realize there may be more going on than they realized, as more and more unusual things begin to occur.

If one is looking for a straightforward genre effort, The Endless may not be what you’re looking for. While the film never feels too complex in how it supplies various answers to its mysteries, this is not a film built around constant frights or events that work on a general moviegoing audience. That in mind, the film does fall more in line with older horror films that could get away with taking certain chances, because the focus on detail and character work was a regular thing.

So The Endless may come off as cryptic and too low-key for some, but I found the film to have plenty going for it. Thanks to a solid understanding of what makes up the mythology of this story (Benson and Moorhead’s 2012 film Resolution takes place in the same cinematic universe, by the way), it is great to watch a movie that lets the audience in on what they need to know, as it goes along. Clearly, a mystery is in place, but the way we come to understand the different perspectives is fascinating.

The presence of Lew Temple, Tate Ellington, and Callie Hernandez as various members of the camp doesn’t hurt, as there’s the proper amount of control in those performances to communicate different thoughts on what’s taking place. It also means repeat viewings are a benefit for those looking to clue in on various things about the film, once understanding where it’s going. However, even on a first watch, The Endless presents a compelling story and characters to follow, as it builds up to a wild finale.

I have no idea of Benson and Moorhead plan to move to a larger scale in their future projects, but they certainly have the confidence to make solid features on this scale. The Endless is smartly assembled and compelling to watch. Considering the constant search for originality in cinema, this is just another example of what kind of goods are out there, even when resources are limited.

 

Video: 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1

Clarity/Detail: Well Go USA’s presentation for this sci-fi flick does well to support the trippy visuals in the midst of a fairly indie affair. Shot on digital, the film’s saturated look doesn’t betray the detail level on display. The image is clear all the way through, preserving a sense of atmosphere while impressing when it comes to costumes, levels of dirt covering camp residents, and some other key moments that pop up towards the end of the film.

Depth: Thanks to the scope of this film and the nature of the camp, the positioning of various characters does a fine job of reflecting how strong the level of dimensionality can be here. It pays off well for this Blu-ray.

Black Levels: Black levels are appropriately dark and deep. Some low-light and nighttime sequences do incredibly well under scrutiny here. No signs of crush, but a lot of great handle on the levels.

Color Reproduction: The film is almost deceptive in the way in presents colors because they do flourish when present. When not in the normal locations inside cabins or out in the dusty wilderness, there is a lot to take in when it comes to the nature of certain environments the characters come across. And these colors never come across soft or any more washed-out than intended.

Flesh Tones: Flesh tones are solid here. The textures register strongly, as we see plenty of detail in the characters.

Noise/Artifacts: This disc is clean.

 

Audio:

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

Subtitles: English SDH

Dynamics: This lossless audio track is superb. Between the use of score and all the audio elements to highlight how the film develops such a specific atmosphere, there is plenty to admire in how this Blu-ray’s audio track does what it needs to do to make an impressive auditory experience for a home theater.

Low-Frequency Extension: A variety of big moments occur in this film, but more specifically, the climax utilizes audio in a way where the LFE channel is well-serviced, and this Blu-ray delivers on that.

Surround Sound Presentation: A good balance is found on this track. Given the heavy use of ambient noise to fill in much of the soundtrack, the various channels are used well on this lossless track to reflect just that. The rear channels helped to provide an immersive experience, while the front and center channels take a majority of work involving music and some other elements.

Dialogue Reproduction: The dialogue comes through clear and consistent.

 

Extras:

For a small-scale film, this Blu-ray comes packed with quite the helping of extra features to go over many aspects of production. There’s even a commentary track to better delve into what’s going on with this film.

Features Include:

  • Audio Commentary with Directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorehead & Producer David Lawson Jr. – A solid track that goes into the origins of this film, connections to their first film, production stories, and more.
  • Making Of (HD, 31:38) – A good look at the making of The Endless.
  • Behind the Scenes – Some more looks behind the scenes.
    • Michael Felker, The Editor (HD, 2:58)
    • Outtakes (HD, 10:04)
  • Deleted Scenes (HD, 6:40)
  • VFX Breakdown (HD, 2:43) – A look at how some of the visual effects were accomplished in the film.
  • Ridiculous Extras – A series of special features that are a bit humorous.
    • Casting
      • Smiling Dave (HD, 2:59)
      • Aaron (HD, 1:32)
    • Vinny’s Story (HD, 9:02)
    • Breaking the News (HD, 3:05)
    • UFO Cult Comedy (HD, 3:26)
  • Tribeca Promo (HD, 1:30)
  • Teaser Trailer (HD, 1:42)
  • Trailer (HD, 2:07)

 

Summary:

It is always a bit strange to label a movie a future cult classic, but with the sort of acclaim this underground genre effort received, that seems like the exact future for The Endless. There’s a great film here for people to discover, and they will thanks to this solid Blu-ray release. Take a look if you get the chance, it’s a ride worth taking.

Order Your Copy Here:

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Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Video Game Player, Comic Book Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

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