“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the Unknown.”
A trilogy of horror and sci-fi that puts Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson alongside Shane Carruth, Brit Marling (w/ Mike Cahill & Zal Batmanglij), and Alex Garland as the pioneering indie American filmmakers of the genre.
The first is Spring (2014): showing glimmers of potential in place of setting and writing (notwithstanding the farfetched City of Angels narrative), the combination of Benson and Moorhead delivered a worthwhile indie romantic body horror that showed future promise fully realized in their recent installment.
This latest film takes along the continuum of Resolution (2012), where the two main characters (Michael Danube and Chris Daniels) find themselves in a Blair Witch Project-type cabin haunted by a devil of determinancy who shows them their present and future recorded paths in an offer of escape that they appear to never reach.
And, yet they reappear in The Endless, confined by the horsewhip of space and time in the same house, seeking to escape the perpetual cycle of events (“Life’s Rubik’s Cube”) begun in the previous film and finding comfort in the repeating forms of suicide as a means to restart the cycle, on their own terms.
As for the others, the two main characters (Moorhead and Benson) find themselves, in the vein of Resolution, called back to a cult-camp by a strange video from an undisclosed sender. Once arrived, one of them is drawn to the allure of the supernatural presence in the camp; while the other, confused and wary, is seeking for an escape. The struggle for self-identity in the atmospheric location that exudes mystery speaks to the repetitive struggle in their own lives and the process of breaking free from their day-to-day “miserable” existence. A powerful concept that could have been fleshed out further concerning our own vocational loops.
The critics have embraced this film and for good reason. Overcoming past budgeting struggles, the combination of Moorhead and Benson have placed themselves alongside other independent filmmakers whose films richly delve into textured storytelling, proving that creative films can be just as effective as studio productions. Sure the acting and the writing is at times ineffectual, but the creativity and ability to paint a tantalizing narrative turns out to be more important.
Phil De Semlyen (Time Out) really nails this: “[t]his impressive low-budget indie starts slowly but gets better and better as it weaves a genre-defying tapestry of weirdness, atmospherics and cultish horrors across a dusty American setting.” This is a special film and certainly a promising start to a much-needed genre in independent filmmaking.