I am an absolute fiend for horror movies. Because of this, I keep a watchful eye on film festival reports and reviews. The upside of this obsessive habit is that I am able to single out indie horror gems faster than many casual viewers. The downside, aside from sitting through the occasional stinker, is that it’s easy to become too hyped on a festival darling before actually seeing it for myself. This is something that I’ve tried to temper after a few past disappointments.
One such disappointment was 2012’s Resolution, the first feature by directorial duo Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead. I foolishly sat down with that film expecting to be wowed and when my actual reaction failed to reach such a level, I walked away from it with an intense feeling of disappointment. When Benson & Moorhead returned a few years later with the monster love story Spring, I made sure to keep my distance from the hype and my eventual relationship with the film was all the better for it.
What does all of this have to do with The Endless? Everything. Not only is this the latest offering from Benson & Moorhead, but it is also set within the same universe as Resolution and Spring. Its connections to the former are particularly strong, building out that film’s terror elements into a much larger cosmic horror tapestry. They are also malleable enough that you don’t have to see Resolution before sitting down with The Endless. They are more companion films to one another than they are an actual franchise.
What is The Endless about? The straightforward answer is that it centers on two brothers who escaped “a UFO death cult” a decade earlier and have decided to return to the compound in an effort to answer a few lingering questions that they have. To say too much more would spoil the nature of the tale, but answers are indeed found.
From a filmmaking standpoint, this is probably the writing/directing pair’s best effort to date. It’s a handsome looking indie offering. The pacing is assured and rarely seems to lag, thereby avoiding the common indie horror padding problem. The characters are all interesting in that each one is deeply flawed, leaving the viewer with no real clear person to unconditionally root for. Because of this, the tension runs high even in sequences where no physical danger is present.
As for the horror itself, I’m a sucker for cosmic terrors, so I was already halfway in the story’s corner. The ending doesn’t entirely sit well with me in terms of its execution, but it’s not a betrayal of the tale that came before. My quibbles on that front really only come from personal preference. It’s unlikely to end up on a “Best Horror of 2018” list from me, but if you’re a fan of Benson & Moorhead’s previous works, I think you’ll walk away from this one pleased.
The Endless is an original horror film. It was written and directed by Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead. The film was produced by Justin Benson, Thomas R. Burke, David Lawson Jr., Aaron Moorhead, and Leal Naim. It stars Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead, Callie Hernandez, Tate Ellington, Lew Temple, James Jordan, Shane Brady, Kira Powell, David Lawson Jr., Emily Montague, Peter Ciella, and Vinny Curran.