As a genre film fan, one of the biggest frustrations is the limited access we have to the full array of films being (often) lovingly created. Cinemas are often full of forgettable and confusing franchise sequels which tend to merge into one big lump of nothing. Occasionally, the likes of The Babadook, The Witch, Get Out etc break through to the mainstream, but for low budget indie horrors any kind of theatrical release if often a miracle. The arrival of streaming services, particularly dedicated ones like Shudder, has been a boon for fans, but more needs to be done to allow us to watch the films we want to see on the big screen.
In many ways, Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead are the frontrunners in trying to make this change. Their debut, Resolution, is a playful swipe at genre fans and films, played out through an offbeat buddy movie between two now polar-opposite friends. Their follow-up, Spring, moved to Italy and followed a man who is lost until he discovers love with someone who isn’t quite who they seem. Their latest, The Endless, returns to familiar ground, and is their best yet.
A decade ago, Justin (Benson) and Aarron (Moorhead) escaped a ‘UFO death cult’ and tried to resume a normal life. The years have been spent in unhappy drudgery, but when Aaron is sent a video from the commune he persuades Justin to visit for a day. They are welcomed back with open arms into the camp by (nominal) leader Hal (Tate Ellington) and the rest of the residents. On the surface it seems idyllic, but there’s something strange lurking which keeps a special hold on everyone.
The Endless is a fantastic film which works on many levels. On the face of it, the plot focuses on two (orphaned) brothers struggling to adapt and thrive in normal life. However, it’s a curious and quizzical treatise on routine, belief, getting stuck in a rut and the merits of religion. Benson and Moorhead, who have always done most of the work on their films, take the next step and (almost) seamlessly move to the other side of the camera. The cinematography (Moorhead) is beautiful and there’s an excellent supporting cast (including a couple of familiar faces). The Endless is a brilliant indie horror which squeezes every ounce out of what it has to offer.