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 that have been done about cults, The Endless is a standout feature.
The story follows 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 return 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 other films about cults is that there seems to be something beyond human comprehension, something much darker controlling the group.
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: the symbol of the circle can be seen at various points throughout – referring to the title – it’s omnipresent, and its meaning only gets clearer as we learn more about the mysterious hovering force.
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, not a moment is wasted and only serves to move the story forward as well as 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 well, and the script paints a realistic, relatable and insightful representation of brotherhood and family.
A truly unique, genre-crossing film.