Quick Review - 'The Endless'
Director duo Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead return to what seems to be their favorite genre: cosmic horror. I absolutely loved their previous film Spring, which was a mixture between Cronenberg’s The Fly and Let the Right One In with a Lovecraftian twist. Well, buckle up, because Benson and Moorhead are back to boggle your mind with cults and time loops, though there’s a lot more traffic along the way.
Brothers Aaron and Justin are leading less than stellar lives trying to re-assimilate into modern society after growing up in a UFO death cult known as Camp Arcadia. One day they receive a VHS tape from the cult, showing that everyone seems to be doing well and to the brothers’ surprise, not dead. Aaron pleads with Justin to let them visit for a day to Justin’s dismay as Aaron remembers the cult fondly while Justin does not. They make their way to Camp Arcadia and after spending what seems to be a welcoming night in the camp, Justin and Aaron begin to notice strange things like someone or something is watching them.
You might notice the film has a very low budget, not just in the way it’s shot but in the cast department as the directors themselves play the leads, and unironically, play characters with the same names. Their acting isn’t the best and it’s more evident in Justin Benson’s ability than Aaron Moorhead’s. Benson kind of just wanders around the film with the same expression and never really emotionally engages in any sort of interaction where he just doesn’t look bored. He can’t even say “It’s a monster!” convincingly.
The same goes for the special effects. When the strange starts happening, there’s some noticeably bad effects but thankfully, these are few and far between the emotionally tense moments between the brothers and the rest of Camp Arcadia. There’s a great atmosphere to the film with the supernatural being at the forefront from the beginning so there’s no doubt whether it may be artificially constructed in the brothers’ minds or some drug induction by the camp. My favorite scene might be the strangest as the Camp engages in a ritual-like Tug-of-War called The Struggle but not with what appears to be a person on the other side, but utter darkness.
The film shines in the final act as the weird gets really weird with endless time loops and unseen entities you’d find in a dark eldritch tale, which are comically brought to light by interesting supporting characters that the brothers meet around the camp, such as Shitty Carl played by James Jordan. Up until meeting him, The Endless felt a little too dry but once he’s on the scene, his exposition dumps are hilarious and really reignited my interest in the film.
The Endless indeed felt a little endless at times but really picks up steam toward the end when the overarching mystery starts to unfold and the film has fun with its wacky concepts. If you’re a fan of cosmic horror, definitely give The Endless a shot.