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Review: The Endless

The EndlessJustin Benson and Aaron Moorhead have made a career out of the unexplainable that tugs you into a spiral of anxiety. They have a unique rhythm that take some getting acquainted with, but it has previously paid off quite well. Their breakout film, Resolution, is a descent into insanity, and Spring is a sensuous, peculiar love story. With The Endless, they have perhaps leaned too far into their aesthetic; while it is a significant part of the narrative, it is also it’s detriment. Their desire to discombobulate the viewer has backfired, resulting in a product that could have easily been a segment in an anthology. 

Benson and Moorhead play brothers who left a cult ten years ago. As they’re introduced, we see they’re not in a great place in life. Justin (Benson) and Aaron (Moorhead) Smith are house cleaners, struggling to make ends meet. Aaron remembers the commune as a place of peace and serenity, while Justin is only able to recall the creepiness, including castration of members. 

One day a tape shows up with one of the members discussing an approaching “ascension.” Not only curious but hungry for closure, Aaron convinces Justin to attend Camp Arcadia for a couple of days and see what is really going on. 

After they left the commune the first time, Justin made it his mission to color their experience as poorly as possible in the media, so this is an awkward trip.

Upon arrival, they notice that no one has aged, and the members had an all-too-friendly demeanor about them. Both are welcomed immediately, and re-introduced into the community, which includes great food, great beer, and games, including archery and tug-of-war…against an invisible force in the dark…

Whats even more terrifying than the games are the member’s seemingly forced smiles at everything that’s going on.

More and more details begin to emerge including circling birds, mood swings, and the man comically hanging out with his own hanged corpse. It adds to the films creepiness as Aaron gets a bit too close to a woman who essentially raised him as well as the unnerving fact that no one has aged in ten years. 

All normal things. 

Events are repeated in a cycle…endlessly. Eventually, I felt as if I were stuck in a loop and perhaps this film wasn’t going to end. 

There are breathtaking visuals throughout The Endless, but there’s no emotion behind them. No true horror, no humor, no mystery, even. As a viewer, we have a clear idea what’s going on, and we spend the film with our two protagonists as they navigate the terrain, playing catch-up with us. And when is all uncovered, the film meanders around this place with seemingly no clear course (until it’s time to end the film). 

The Endless unfortunately is too tame, unable to embrace the bizarre potential of the premise. There’s a lot of Arthur Machen in this, but unlike, say, The Great God Pan, there’s no payoff to the buildup. 

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I never stand in front of the elevator doors when they open. All because of the movie The Departed.

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