For the Tribeca Film Festival, I had the chance to watch and review the latest film from co-directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, titled THE ENDLESS. I'm a sucker for films that have a touch of Lovecraftian mythos to them, and having been such a fan of their previous film, SPRING, I could only imagine what THE ENDLESS would encompass. With that said, I wasn't prepared to have my mind blown in such a way that I'm still reeling from what I had viewed days ago.
On the surface, THE ENDLESS tells a story of two brothers who return to the place they grew up; however, the only caveat is that place is home to an alleged cult in which they both escaped many, many years ago. Along with directing the film, Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead played the two brothers and are joined alongside by actors Callie Hernandez, Tate Ellington, and Lew Temple. THE ENDLESS is more than what it appears to be on the surface and is truly a film that takes it's audience on a fully encompassing journey from start to finish.
It's hard to write a review of this film without giving away any spoilers but I'm going to to ry to do the best that I can. What makes THE ENDLESS so impressive is the remarkable storyline as well as the ability to take that story and have it come full circle in a way that is seldom seen. There have been many films that have used the subjects of cults as the centerpiece of their film, but I can assure you, audiences will never have seen anything quite like what THE ENDLESS is offering. Benson, who also wrote the script, weaved together a narrative that is both terrifying and beautiful and showcases the brotherly love (and hate) between the two leads as well as the unbreakable bond that these characters have with each other.
Focusing on the story itself, it's one that is incredibly intriguing and captivating. As I was viewing the film, I was not expecting the multitude of twists and turns that came my way. This is one of those films that doesn't need to rely on over-the-top special effects to send a shiver of fear down the spine of the viewer. Instead, Benson and Moorhead relied on top-notch acting and slight of hand to create a feeling of dread and discomfort. One of the best and rarest things that directors can do, is ride that fine line where they are giving the audience enough information so that their imagination can fill in the blanks with their own creations. Benson and Moorhead did this masterfully by giving the viewer just enough guidance to put the pieces together while simultaneously holding back so that they may come up with their own interpretation of what THE ENDLESS really is.
One of the best aspects of this film definitely comes from the acting. Every person on screen seemed natural, almost as if they were everyday people one would meet on the street. It made the viewing experience much more intimate because it was hard not to feel some type of emotion towards each and every person we were introduced to. Typically in horror films, there are defined characters and defined stereotypes which skew our perspective on who we should root to survive and those we hope to perish. In THE ENDLESS, there was none of that, because all of the characters were so believable and relatable. I know that sounds weird, considering the plot point has to do with a cult, but trust me when I say you will be hard pressed not to hate anyone in this film.
When it comes to the horror aspect of the film, this isn't going to be your typical horror movie. You are not going to encounter any jumpscares or ghostly entities flying about. Instead, Benson and Moorhead created a film that relies on atmosphere and the creeping sense of uneasiness and confusion. The confusion part is what really heightens the film because there are going to be moments where the audience is questioning what in the bloody hell is happening, but fear not, as it all gets explained in due time. There is no gore or severed limbs flailing about, which for some might deter their overall viewing experience, but for me, I think it made the film even better because it didn't have to rely on gore for the sake of gore.
My only gripe with the film had to do with the CGI. Luckily, there wasn't too much of it, but there were two scenes where I wish it had been toned down a bit more. Other than that, this film is a near masterpiece in terms of being a horror film that is unique and chilling without the cheap jumpscares and buckets of gore. Fans of Benson and Moorehead will be adequately rewarded as there is an "OH SHIT" moment that changes everything and intertwines something much bigger to the plot (and possible universe) of THE ENDLESS. I know that this review may seem somewhat vague, but it's because I don't want to give anything away, instead I want all of you to go and see this film at the Tribeca Film Festival. If you can't catch it there, then whenever it comes out on VOD/Blu-ray/DVD make sure to absolutely watch it. I can promise you, your mind will be just as blown as mine.