Tuesday, 17 April 2018


Starring: Aaron Moorhead, Justin Benson, Callie Hernandez
Writer: Justin Benson
Directors: Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead

Many years after engineering their escape from what some described as a "UFO death cult", brothers Aaron (Moorhead) and Justin (Benson) receive a mysterious video tape which leads them to take a trip back to the group. They're accepted with grace and good humour and Aaron enjoys meeting up with their old acquaintances. Justin, however, is somewhat more suspicious of what's going on...

Full disclosure here - I love Resolution and Spring, Benson and Moorhead's previous movies. Both films defy genre boundaries and although many familiar elements are thrown into the mix the overall effect - for me, at least - in each case was having seen something genuinely different.

There was no reason for me to believe that this wouldn't be the case with The Endless but with expectations having been set to such a high level their third outing was bound to be a least a little bit of a disappointment, right?

Wrong. Oh, so wrong.

Not only does The Endless glide through multiple genres - multiple times - with the deftness of Benson and Moorhead's earlier work, the story constantly confounds convention and there's that wonderful, rare feeling of having absolutely no clue as to what's coming next. If you like predictability and by-the-numbers storytelling this one's going to drive you totally insane.

To be honest, it's difficult to write a review of The Endless because pointing you in the direction of most of the things I adore about it will spoil the film for you to a greater or lesser extent. This is a case where you really should go in knowing as little as you possibly can.

So what can I tell you? Well, the idea of the movie's directors taking on the lead characters is quite a bold move and one that runs the risk of failing spectacularly. Here, Justin and Aaron are thoroughly engaging as Justin and Aaron, Justin's cynical, world-weary smarts providing an entertaining contrast to Aaron's almost childlike enthusiasm and sense of wonder.

Bonus points, too, for featuring a cult that isn't full of gibbering, wide-eyed lunatics. Yes, these guys live off the grid and they're a little quirky but they come across as pretty decent, dare I say nice, people (although it might take you a while to warm to Smiling Dave). Surely this bunch don't have evil, murderous stuff on their minds? Yeah, like I'm going to tell you here.

The Endless belies its low budget time and again, serving up gorgeous visuals and stunning effects which are deployed at the perfect time, adding to the movie's marvellously strange surroundings. There's real variety in the locations, too, from the intimate environs of the cult's compound to woods, lakes and vast open spaces. These places aren't just a nice backdrop to have the actors against, they play into the story.

There are also beautifully set-up, brilliantly executed callbacks to another movie. If you haven't seen that particular film it matters not, The Endless works superbly as a standalone piece. However, if you have seen it you may react in the way I did which was to sit there with a massive grin on my face as things I'd wondered about for several years fell into place. I would have stood up and shouted "YES!" but I'm a pretty respectful moviegoer.

Scary, funny, twisted, surreal, shocking, puzzling - The Endless is all these things and more. It has a wonderfully dreamlike quality and as its layers of plot slowly reveal even more strange and bizarre incidents you may be struck by the following thought: Where the hell is all of this going? It's perfectly fine to think that but you should also allow yourself to be swept along. This movie is as much about the journey as the destination and once you've reached the end you'll want to look back and see how many of the signposts you can spot.

I saw The Endless back in 2017 and it was one of my favourite films of last year. It may very well be one of my favourite films of this year too. Heading off in any number of directions, this ultimately weaves together its many weird strands of plot in a way that's incredibly satisfying yet leaves just enough questions unanswered for you to be talking about it for a very long time afterwards. Prepare to have your mind blown.