Directed by: Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead
Starring: Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead, Callie Hernandez, Emilie Montague, Kira Powell, Tate Ellington
Brothers Justin and Aaron escaped what was being described as a Death Cult when they were teenagers, and have since led dull, uneventful lives. One day they are send a videotape by one of the members of the cult, inviting them back. After some debate, they decide to trek across country to the cult's retreat, and look upon the place and its people with a new, adult perspective. Not only is life here much more idylic, but its possible that their beliefs might be right all along…
The Endless is one of those enigmatic films which draws you in and rivets you to your seat as each new revelation is uncovered.
I have a passing fascination with cults, especially movie cults where you're waiting for the idyllic facade to drop and reveal the malevolence beneath, such as the Jonestown-esque THE COVENANT. Like with THE TRIANGLE, I was waiting for the other shoe to drop and was trying to read into every exchange, even the the most innocuous conversations. The videotape message they are sent seems harmless enough but the phrasing contained within invites you to look for deeper, sinister meanings.
When they receive the tape, Aaron and Justin are working menial jobs and barely making ends meet. They are also both still in therapy from leaving the cult. When they see the video message and invitation back to the retreat, both brothers come to thinking "how much worse could it be to our current situation?". As it turns out, things there are much better and a lot worse than they could have imagined.
One of the many things I enjoyed about this film is the way it lets you assume that the weird things you see happening might have a logical explanation. For example the rope pull scene, in which members are encouraged to pull on the end of a length of rope which "seems" to be tied to the moon. Or the fact that you can see up to three moons, thanks to a refraction of light through swamp gas.
I'm sure the brothers would have cottoned on to the more weird elements, but the pair are also constantly bickering with each other. Aaron, the younger of the two, only has hazy memories of their childhood life in the cult and most of what he knows about it comes from Justin. When he's confronted with a few home truths it drives something of a wedge between them and they end up making different discoveries on their own.
Directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead previously made the excellent, well-received SPRING, and again have delivered an enigmatic film which slowly builds its sense of dread and wonder As each scene unfolds you can feel yourself being drawn closer to the screen (never more so than when we find out what's inside the closely guarded shed on the hill). However nothing is fully explained here, you're given enough negative space to fill with your own imagination.
This is up there with the best of them - Midnight Special, The Signal, The Pyramid. If you like well-drawn characters and deep mysterious mysteries then you must see this.
8 out of 10 (MikeOutWest)