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The Endless – Review (London Film Festival)

The Endless Review (London Film Festival)

The indie directors of Spring and Resolution return with a cult-based supernatural mystery that’s likely to go, cult.

Starring: Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead, Callie Hernandez, Tate Ellington
Directors: Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead

Two brothers (Benson, Moorhead) who fled a desert cult 10 years earlier live a miserable low-income life in normal society. When an old videotape is delivered suggesting the remaining members might be about to make the ultimate sacrifice, the pair decide to return to the camp for one night to eat well, see some familiar faces, and determine what’s happening. What they find are new oddities. The ‘It’ that the cult claims watches over them now seems present and the deity’s time games have become a trap that threatens their existence…

The co-directors began with Resolution in 2012 and then the brilliant Spring (Grade: A) in 2014 (which perfectly captured the magic of falling for someone, from the male perspective). The Endless ties in directly to their first film (a viewing beforehand adds quite a bit), but is overall something of a disappointment.

It starts in intriguing fashion as the ethereal mystery flutters around, and the betrayed-cult setting provides immediate tension. It’s consistently as atmospheric as their previous work. But the pacing is slow, on the promise of an impactful third act, that doesn’t really come. The finale leaves you realising the cult members were underdeveloped and their motivations, given the scenario, are quite unclear.

The co-directors cast themselves as the lead actors (despite both being newcomers) and while that works fine for most of the duration, their performances in the final act are tonally off: They face death but mostly saunter about with a puzzling lack of urgency, and their conflict doesn’t quite click (one wanted the other to respect his decisions, but he’d already been going along with his decisions throughout).

The filmmaking team remains ones to watch and this is still worth seeing for the atmospherics and creepiness. But watch Spring instead if you haven’t.

Grade: B-

The Endless doesn’t have a UK or US release date yet, but expect it in 2018.

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