Writing, directing and starring in a major motion picture is no easy task, but that’s exactly what Justin Benson (V/H/S Viral, Spring) has done, co-directing and starring with Aaron Moorhead (V/H/S Viral, Spring).
Benson and Moorhead star as Justin and Aaron Smith, brothers who are struggling to make ends meet. They clean houses for a living, barely making enough to buy a meal or pay for the battery for their car they so desperately require.
This life is very different from their previous one on a camp that the two ‘escaped’ from. The camp was home to an alienist group, the brothers selling their ‘bizarre’ story to the tabloid press when they got out.
Once a week the brothers attend a ‘de-brainwashing’ session and whilst Justin is handling things ok since leaving the cult, Aaron is having second thoughts and wants to go back.
This feeling is amplified when they receive a tape in the mail that shows one of their former camp buddies Anna, Callie Hernandez (La La Land, Alien: Covenant), seemingly distressed and talking about ‘the ascension’.
Reluctantly Justin agrees, but just for one night, then they should come straight back and continue with their daily routine of living hand-to-mouth over and over again.
Upon arriving at the camp, all seems pretty much as they left it. Hal, Tate Ellington (Straight Outta Compton, Sinister 2), is still in charge, but claiming not to be, and all the camp regulars are there with some new people as well.
However, when Justin begins seeing strange goings on and Aaron becomes more convinced that the ‘camp’ is the place for him, things begin to unravel.
The strange occurrences occur more and more, patterns begin to emerge, Hal talks in riddles and by the time the two brothers realise what’s happening, well, have they left it too late?
The Endless is a fantastic sci-fi, thriller that will keep you gripped right up to the end. There’s a palpable tension in the air as you get the sinister feeling everyone knows what’s going on, but no-one will say.
Benson and Moorhead direct with a floaty, ethereal feeling, which, when coupled with the harsh desert sunlight and baron landscape, can make you feel like you have sunstroke, which is good in this instance.
The two play the titular characters with a lackadaisical ease which works for the most part but can take away the fear factor somewhat at times.
I loved the introduction of James Jordan (Wind River, Message From The King) as Shitty Carl. He brings an intensity and light comic feeling to proceedings which is not out of place.
At nearly two-hours long, the film can feel slow at times and having this extra time to think enables you to fill in some of the blanks before we get there.
However, Benson writes well enough that, when you think you’ve got the measure of things, or believe you know what’s going to happen next, he’ll take the movie in a different, satisfying and gripping direction. The Endless is a movie with a fascinating premise that is brilliantly executed by both Benson and Moorhead.