The Endless
R0 - Australia - Umbrella Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: James-Masaki Ryan (5th August 2018).
The Film

"The Endless" (2017)

Living in poverty in a shared studio apartment in Los Angeles, two brothers Justin and Aaron (played by Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead) receive a mysterious videotape in a box that seems to have been shipped through a hundred countries before arriving on their doorstep. On it, a Heaven’s Gate-esque cult member talks about an impending “Ascension”. We learn that the brothers were raised in this cult, and fled from it a decade ago because Justin pulled Aaron out when he became aware of an impending mass suicide. But this tape seems to say otherwise and that their old "family" is alive and well, which opens a crack in the brothers’ relationship. Why did Justin pull Aaron away from the only "family" he’s ever known, lie about their mass suicide, and have him live this destitute life? On Aaron’s insistence, they go back to their homestead deep in the high desert forest of the southwest in order to get some closure. But when they arrive, they discover that the “cult” might not really be a cult at all, and they’re not certain just how welcome back they are. And there seems to be a dark truth to the commune’s otherworldly beliefs that suggest the laws of the natural world may be very different than we assume, which propels "The Endless" into a Lovecraftian tale about brotherhood, giving up your personal autonomy, and history’s weird malevolent tendency to repeat itself.

Filmmakers Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead's first collaboration as directors "Resolution" in 2012 was film that received rave reviews but seen by few. Their second collaboration "Spring" in 2014 also suffered the same fate being highly praised but underseen. In their third feature together "The Endless" the story is almost a side story of "Resolution", with Benson and Moorhead's cameo characters of the UFO cult members brought back as the leads. At first glance it might seem strange that the directors would play the leads in a film with the characters named after themselves while not being autobiographical, but it keeps in continuity of the first film while completely being a separate entity on its own. It is entirely possible to enjoy "The Endless" on its own as it takes place in the same cinematic universe, as the "Alien" series and the "Blade Runner" series take place within the same world but are also perfectly separate works. While the duo are not exactly the greatest actors and their performances can be a little on the thin side compared to the others encountered in the film, where there are some great character performances with the shady and slightly creepy cult members. Tate Ellington as Hal, James Jordan as Carl, Callie Hernandez as Anna all give distinctive performances in their roles, but the leading essence of the film that stands out is the concept and execution.

"The Endless" is a film that plays with the viewers by going against expectations. It's hard to explain or discuss much of the film without giving spoilers but the film plays with the concept of space and time, just as works like "Donnie Darko" or "Primer" as well as playing with the idea of cults like "Hot Fuzz" or "The Wicker Man" though to say "The Endless" is similar to any of those films is completely wrong. It certainly plays with creepiness, questions the actions of the antagonists and their plans, and makes the audience question everything especially from the second half. The rope pulling, the hanging body in the shed, the mystery of the lake, the multiple moons, Dave who never stops smiling, there are quite a few things that mess with the mind and mess with reality throughout.

"The Endless" possibly raises more questions than gives answers similar to "Lost" and "The Prisoner" did on television in the years past. And with that it gives the film life after viewing with fans deciphering the imagery, the themes, the secrets and more online. "The Endless" has certainly received great attention since its premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in Apri 2017 followed by dozens of festival screenings to high acclaim. Like Benson and Moorhead's previous films "The Endless" is bound to be a literal "cult" hit, and it is exciting to see what the directors will come up with for the future.

Note this is a region 0 NTSC DVD.

Video

Umbrella Entertainment presents the film in the theatrical 2.40:1 aspect ratio with anamorphic enhancement in the NTSC format. Shot in HD, the film has a muted color palate with browns and tans being especially strong in the rural desert environment. Colors are slightly blown out with little in terms of deep blacks or vividness. It certainly looks as the trailers did with its almost dusty pale feel, and is transferred well on this DVD. There are no issues with damage or other problems with the image.

The runtime of the film is 111:02.















Audio

English Dolby Digital 5.1
The 5.1 soundscape works especially well with the brooding and ambient score by Jimmy Lavalle also known as The Album Leaf who also worked with the directors on their previous film "Spring". Dialogue is almost always centered and the surround channels envelops with the sound effects and music, though not too overpoweringly. It's a well balanced well done soundtrack for the film, and there are no issues such as hiss or pops in the soundtrack. An excellent transfer.

There are no subtitles for the feature.

Extras

Unfortunately there are no extras on the disc. The film has been released in the US and the UK by Well Go USA and Arrow Video respectively, both offering a wealth of extras including a commentary, documentary, featurettes, deleted scenes, and more. In addition they were released on Blu-ray while sadly Umbrella decided to release the film on standard definition DVD only for Australia.

Umbrella Entertainment although did release the making-of documentary for the film and the trailer on YouTube, which is embedded below:



Packaging

The package mistakenly states region 4 only. This is in fact a region 0 DVD.

Overall

"The Endless" is a cult science fiction horror film that certainly plays with expectations while also going against the norm. It's a piece that certainly provokes, confuses, and frustrates yet at the same time gives wonder and suspense for viewers looking for something unusual and unique. The Umbrella Entertainment DVD gives good audio and video but unfortunately was not given a Blu-ray release and not given any of the excellent extras that were available on the US and UK editions.

The Film: B+ Video: A- Audio: A- Extras: F- Overall: C+

 


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