Directed by: Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead
Written by: Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead
Starring: Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead, Callie Hernandez
Genre: Science-Fiction / Thriller
Reviewed by: Joe Bones
What if someone you cared about saved you from what they perceived as a horrible fate, but then you came to realize your new life is pretty awful? Would you try to be content with the life you have? Or seek out the life you once lived? These are the questions Aaron faces in The Endless. When he was a child, Aaron’s older brother Justin facilitated their escape from a UFO death cult. Years later and now adults, they receive a video tape showing that the cult members are still very much alive.
Having been a child when they left the cult, Aaron only has happy memories of their experience. He resents Justin for forcing them into what he views as a terrible life. Justin feels responsible for Aaron’s well-being, and resents that his younger brother can’t appreciate what he did for him. They set out to return to the cult, each hoping to validate their own feelings and get some closure. They arrive at Camp Arcadia, the community the cult has built for themselves, and find nothing has changed. Everyone they remember from their youth is still alive and oddly, none of them seems to have aged. For the first few days, everything seems normal. Then odd phenomena begin to occur.
Overall, The Endless is a pretty solid psychological thriller. The plot kept me guessing for the majority of the film. I personally think the sci-fi elements could have been expanded on, but this lack of fleshing out does lend an air of Eldritch horror to the narrative, which is a genre I thoroughly enjoy. Although most of the film is shot in an expected style, there is occasionally some dynamic cinematography and interesting camera effects. The two actors who play Aaron and Justin also wrote and directed the movie. I think that fact adds some merit to the film itself, though my biggest complaint about the movie centers around their writing.
There is a writing concept known as Chekhov’s Gun. Basically, if a writer is going to introduce an item such as a gun in the first act of their piece, then that gun must come back by the end of the story. In other words, every element in a story should contribute to the story’s whole. In The Endless, the proverbial gun is the video tape that leads the brothers back to Camp Arcadia. It is never explained who sent the video or even why it was sent to the brothers. By the end of the film the video tape is completely forgotten and solely becomes the gimmick that sets the brothers on their journey of discovery. Considering the emphasis the narrative places on Aaron wanting to return the Camp Arcadia to get some closure, the writers could have found a better way to incite the brother’s renewed interest in the status of the cult. Instead the circumstances behind the video tape become a plot hole in the narrative.
For what it is, The Endless is a decent film. The sometimes rambling narrative is aided by a prevalent air of mystery and constant atmosphere of suspense. The sci-fi elements are engaging and the characters are grounded and believable. This film might not blow your mind, but if you’re a fan a science fiction thrillers then The Endless is definitely worth a watch.