This is a weirdly compelling low budget film which is kind of science fiction, kind of horror (a bit), kind of supernatural.
This 2017 film starred and was directed by Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead. Two brothers are living a hand to mouth existence after having escaped from a cult some years earlier. The younger brother remembers it as being a happy place and insists on going back to visit, much against the older brother’s wishes. Once they arrive it appears that the statements Justin, the older brother, has made about the ‘cult’ are untrue. They are just a harmless group of people living in a commune. However, there is something extremely strange going on, and gradually Justin uncovers the real dangers facing them.
The acting, while not spectacular, is acceptable. There are no great dramatic moments from anyone but there didn’t really need to be in my opinion. The characters in this film are just ordinary people. There are no heroes or villains. Some of the characters are quite unstable due to the situation but that is the worst that could be said about them.
The film does not tie up loose ends. The weird happenings seem to do with multiple temporal loops in the one area. People who are caught in these loops are condemned to just repeat them over and over. The loops are of different lengths. The commune, for example, is in a loop that lasts for some years, while the shortest loop observed is mere seconds (and the most horrifying moment in the film.) it is unclear what gets you stuck in a loop. There is some suggestion that being there when the loop starts again will do that, but the protagonist Justin would appear to have been with Carl during his loop resetting, and still walked away. For that matter, in Carl’s loop, we see him dead and alive at the same time. This does not occur elsewhere, and there seems to be no reason for it. The commune people say they sell the beer that they brew. How, if they can’t leave? (Maybe buyers come to them.) The biggest question is the alien, or supernatural presence. Is it creating the problem? It keeps recording people and then giving back the recordings in various formats (photos, videos etc.) Some characters believe it is creating the problem, but for all we know it might be stuck there too.
I didn’t feel that any of this meant it was a bad movie. In fact, it was rather intriguing that the film was comfortable leaving the mystery as a mystery. The protagonist is not a hero. He doesn’t overcome the alien and save everyone. His only real desire is to take his brother and leave before they get stuck too. They can do nothing for the victims of the phenomenon. While the commune members seem to embrace this weird immortality, others are suffering, and those in the commune give no indication that they care.
While Justin’s earlier labelling of the commune members as a cult turns out to be untrue, it feels like a young person trying to come up with an explanation for something he knows is wrong but does not know why. The character of Hal, for all his claims that the commune has no leader, certainly acts like one, and his fondness for cryptic sayings only lends credence to Justin’s suppositions. Hal says, “Can you have power over yourself if you give up any amount of authority to something else?” Ironically, the group does act like a cult in one important sense – they have done precisely this by giving up their power to the circumstances, or the unknown being. If any of them had ever fought to leave it is long in the past.
“The Endless” is a slow-paced but rather creepy little story of something that defies explanation. It’s not horror in the sense of being scary, but it will leave you a bit unsettled and spooked. I would recommend this.
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