Directors: Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead
Starring: Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead, Callie Hernandez, Tate Ellington, Emily Montague, Lew Temple
Words: Manon Peyralade
Among all the films about cults that have been done, The Endless is probably one of the most interesting.
The film follows the story of two brothers, Aaron and Justin (played by the film’s directors Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson), who ten years after having been rescued from a cult, decide to come back for a night after receiving a mysterious videotape. As Aaron is eager to come back to what was a family to him, Justin is more reticent, but accepts when he realises how miserable his brother is in his ‘normal’ life.
Although Justin only agrees to spend a day and night, the retreat insidiously turns into two days, and two days becomes three, until they seem to be stuck in the cult. Again.
What differentiates The Endless from your average movie about cults is that there seems to be something beyond human comprehension, something much darker controlling the cult.
Many signs and red flags can be found throughout the film. Clues hidden in creative shots show the precision and attention to detail given by the directors: for example the symbol of the circle can be seen at the beginning of the film in a clever mid close-up shot of a sauce pan. The idea of circles – referring to the title – is omnipresent throughout the film, and its meaning only gets clearer as we learn more about the mysterious force hovering.
Such details in cinematography are often left behind for on-the-nose dialogue, but not in The Endless. In this script written by Justin Benson, each line is necessary and not only moves the story forward but also greatly serves the characterization of the two protagonists. The relationship between the two brothers is clearly established as protector-protectee, and humour remains present without ever disturbing the creepy atmosphere: a perfect balance.
What separates The Endless from other films about this subject is that the creepiest aspect of the film isn’t the cult itself. It’s nothing palpable, nothing that you can see or prevent.
Watching the film you constantly jump between Aaron’s opinion and Justin’s, and you find yourself caught in the mysterious atmosphere.
The intimacy and chemistry between the two leads (who are friends and collaborators in real life) serves the relationship between the two brothers, and the script paints a realistic, relatable and insightful representation of brotherhood and family.
The film opened the 2017 Celluloid Screams Horror Film Festival, and set the bar very high for the following films.