Movie Review: 2017 SPOOKY FILM FEST Selection - THE ENDLESS
THE ENDLESS is the latest film by writer/ director/ and actor, Justin Benson and deals with the theme of faith and family. The film itself centers around two brothers, Justin (Benson) and Aaron Smith, (played by Aaron Moorhead). Justin and Aaron were raised by a communal group that believes that aliens will come one day and save them from Earth just before it dies. When they were old enough, Justin urged Aaron to escape the group with him. Although the outside world is not great, Justin is okay with it, but Aaron is unhappy and wants to go back to the group.
One day, the brothers receive a video tape from the group telling them that they are about to ascend and join the aliens. Aaron wants to go back and see them one last time before they go, but Justin fears that the group members are about to kill themselves. Hoping to finally convince Aaron that the group is bad, and also to protect him, Justin agrees to go with him. On the way, we find out that Justin and Aaron ended up in the group when Hal, the group’s leader, found them on the side of the road near the group’s camp after a car accident that took the life of their mother.
At the group’s camp, the brothers are welcomed back with open arms. Hal claims that the group never sent the brothers any video. Justin doesn’t believe him, but Hal convinces Justin to go diving out in the lake near one of the floating markers and he’ll learn who sent him the tape. The next day the brothers go fishing and Justin dives in to see what’s down there. He comes back with a metal box and in a panic, telling Aaron that there’s a monster under the water. Inside the metal box is another video tape, this one showing an old promotional video from the group’s early days.
Benson draws a lot from H.P. Lovecraft in making this movie. In some ways, it reminds one of Lovecraft’s classic story The Color of Space, in which an alien has landed in a nearly deserted tract of woods and is remaking the reality of the forest around it. What really makes this film good is Benson’s use of aerial filming. Benson is an excellent cinematographer and uses a drone to get amazing aerial and landscape shots of the area around the group’s compound and the highway around it, making the audience look for the clues that will bring resolution to the story. Since the first time Benson used a drone camera in his movie Spring, the aerial views have become a hallmark of his cinematic style and he proves to be brilliant in its use.
Sadly, the story itself is lacking. Although Benson strings the audience along, it just seems to drag on until the final resolution and really kills the tension. That said, Moorhead himself turns in the best performance of film as Aaron. He’s like a ten-year old trapped in an adult’s body and he just wants to stay a kid. He misses the carefree days of the group and hates how he just doesn’t feel like he belongs in outside world. But at the same time, he wants to break away from Justin who is always telling him what to do. In the end, it’s Aaron we find ourselves rooting for.
THE ENDLESS is not a great movie, but it’s not terrible either. I feel like it’s worth seeing just for Benson’s cinematography and Morehead’s acting. It would just be better if the story moved a little faster.
Overall review: B
Check out THE ENDLESS at the 2017 Spooky Movie International Horror Film Festival on Saturday, October 7th, at 5:30pm EST.