The Endless Review

The Endless
Brothers Justin (Justin Benson) and Aaron (Aaron Moorhead) receive a video in the mail from members of a UFO cult they had been members of as children. In a bid for closure, the pair return to the cult compound, only to discover that not all is as they remember.

by James Dyer |
Published on
Release Date:

15 Jun 2018

Original Title:

The Endless

With their 2012 debut, Resolution, filmmaking duo Benson and Moorhead created a lean cabin-in-the-woods horror that poked fun at genre tropes while conjuring its own supernatural scares. Though not strictly speaking a sequel, The Endless overlays the pair’s earlier film, expanding and evolving the mythology with a focus on two minor characters from the original, played by the directors themselves.

Not having seen Resolution is no barrier here, however, even if familiarity with the film helps makes sense of some of the more surreal moments. Like the earlier film (and the duo’s interim film, Spring), The Endless is a film about relationships, first and foremost. In this case the abrasive affection of two brothers: the older, paternalistic Justin and the more naive, wistful Aaron, who grates against his post-cult existence and yearns for a simpler time of companionship, home-cooked food and family within the group. When the pair make their pilgrimage back to Camp Arcadia (after a series of clunky exposition-dump dialogue scenes — the film’s only real bum note), they’re greeted by a warm, inviting community that welcomes them with open arms. They eat, reminisce and join in karaoke, with no sense there’s something amiss, apart from throwaway comments from Justin that the cult members (particularly Hernandez’ Anna) are older than their youthful looks suggest.

The Endless marks the third attention-grabbing calling card for Benson and Moorhead.

It’s not until a too-showy magic trick and a bizarre tug-of-war exercise that hints of the supernatural begin to emerge. Of course, the H.P. Lovecraft quote that opens the film is a clear statement of intent, and the talons of the elder gods leave a clear impression on Benson’s script, which tips its hat to Lovecraftian tales about hidden forces of terrifying potency. It’s in this vein that The Endless is most effective, gradually skewing our grasp of what’s real, while keeping the answers and the forces behind it on the very edge of perception. Jump scares and traditional horror beats are largely forsaken in favour of a sense of growing unease and the discomfort that comes from realising the rules aren’t quite what you think they are.

Benson and Moorhead navigate this tricky terrain skilfully both in front of as well as behind the camera, their performances low-key and naturalistic, allowing the leads to be comfortably mundane while the circumstances around them prove anything but. The multi-hyphenate directors (in addition to everything else, Moorhead tackles cinematography, and both take editing credits) prove assured and creative, pulling off an effective companion piece that works equally as both sequel or standalone. The Endless marks the third attention-grabbing calling card for Benson and Moorhead; it surely can’t be long before they’re invited to bigger things.

An effective, micro-budget sci-fi horror, that makes up in confidence and competence for what it lacks in frills.
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