The Endless is a Sci-Fi/Fantasy film of sorts starring and directed by both Justin Benson and Aaron Moorehead. The film follows brothers Aaron and Justin (not based on a true story, at least I don’t think so…) who escape a cult-y commune after hearing plans of a mass suicide. The brothers receive a strange video from a member of the commune and decide to back because…plot reasons? As assumed, the brothers head back to the commune and weird shit starts to go down.
The Cult of Brotherly Love
I liked The Endless quite a bit for the most part. Mixing a family drama with sci-fi elements worked well, which sets the mystery up for the rest of the film. However, the film’s ending either leaves you with questions or answers you’re not exactly happy with. Diving into the movie a bit more, first thing I was surprised at was the humor. The film isn’t always the most original at times, using the “level-headed brother vs naive younger brother” tropes quite a bit. The Endless manages to not be tripped up by these tropes, with cheeky dialogue poking fun at some of the situations the brothers get put in. “Not cult-y at all, right?” is a line of dialogue repeated quite often, usually when something definitely cult-y is going on, which I really appreciated.
Talking about the cult aspect itself, I will stay vague as to not spoil the movie. The mystery of the movie was that the brothers escaped the cult thinking there was a mass suicide plan happening. When the boys return to the commune, everybody is as they were before…as in, they haven’t aged. Is it from the mysterious beer everybody constantly drinks? Healthy commune lifestyle? Well, when you figure out what’s really going on, it kind of makes sense but also brings up questions about the brothers (their age is unclear and brings into question how close they are). Again, I’m trying to be vague here (fuck, Sci-Fi reviews are hard). Figuring out whats going on is kind of what ruined the film for me, though. Not that I didn’t like the concept, but the way it was revealed through this random character spouting enough exposition for the rest of the movie. Between that and the “happy ever after” ending scene, the finale felt a bit cheesy.
I hadn’t had any expectations or prior knowledge of The Endless going in, so I will say I was pleasantly surprised for the most part. The score is very pretty and ambient, it’s very much in the background but it works for how small and intimate this film is. The dark comedy worked really well and is probably the highlight of the film. There’s a few scenes featuring some really cool cinematography, which I would have enjoyed more of to give the film an uneasy, dream-like quality. This film wasn’t aiming to be a super trippy sci-fi flick, but for me personally I could have used more. The movie lays groundwork for some weird and interesting ideas, but the film stays true to it’s family drama roots which may make it more accessible for a larger audience. The Endless is a story about accepting the past and the experiences that make you who you are, which the film nails with it’s very prevalent full-circle metaphor throughout. Interesting film to say the least, it’s definitely worth a watch (or two).
Score: 7.0/10 Mystery Beers
Personal takeaway from the film is when writing a movie, you have to decided whether to lean more into the plot or the themes of the film. The Endless has so much potential for a darker, weirder horror film but the directors chose to stick to the themes of identity, family and acceptance, pushing the sci-fi elements to the back burner more times than not. I can’t really say this is a flaw because that’s just what the director wanted to do, it’s his movie not mine. I think that’s something a lot of critics or audience members forget when complaining about certain aspects of a film.
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