Warning: Major, major spoilers follow!
There’s a moment in Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead‘s The Endless, world premiering at Tribeca, that had me looking around like a chicken with my head cut off. I went into a panic, absolutely losing my shit over what the duo pulled off in the middle of their latest mind fuck. But we’ll get back to that in a minute.
I fell in love with directing duo Benson and Moorhead after seeing their completely overlooked micro-indie Resolution, which led to us collaborating with them on V/H/S Viral (full disclosure) before they took off to Italy to film their phenomenal Lovecraftian love story Spring. We’ve seen enough from the duo to make some snap judgments – not only do all of their work carry a real “fuck you, I’ll do it myself” attitude, but they also emit that delicious “I did whatever the fuck I wanted” punk rock vibe.
The Endless is another one of the duo’s slow burns, this time with Benson and Moorhead sticking their claws into your brain and mashing it up. The duo star in their own film as two brothers who return to the cult they fled from years ago. It’s a cult movie you’ve never seen before, leaving all cliches and tropes in the garbage where they belong; it’s strange, bizarre, twisted, manipulative and completely original (you know, everything horror fans keep begging for?). The filmmakers utilize their talents in the effects field to distort reality, offering a new perspective on their universe.
Speaking of, remember that time M. Night Shyalaman put Bruce Willis in the final frames of Split in order to tie the film to the same universe as Unbreakable? Well, Benson and Moorhead do something way more impressive in The Endless. Somehow avoiding being self-masturbatory, The Endless seamlessly interconnects Resolution into the story. This is more than Jay and Silent Bob making an appearance; what cinephiles are going to see is a smart, clever and cool as fuck sequence that drops Endless right smack in the middle of Resolution‘s universe (or vice versa). It’s a completely authentic moment that’s meant for indie purists (there’s even a connection to Resolution in Spring), one that will have hardcore horror fans jolting from their seats much like I did during my screening.
Putting this aside for a moment, The Endless still delivers quite a punch, although it’s really a film that’s for a specific audience; those who can’t tolerate the snail-like pace are going to be turned off, and the film itself isn’t all that bloody or violent. Strong performances by co-stars Tate Ellington (Sinister 2) and Callie Hernandez (Alien: Covenant) help move the picture along, while there’s enough (interesting) confusion to help string along the patient viewer.
But what makes this a true indie gem is that there is heart at the center of the story, hoping to send a message to viewers that sometimes you need to leave your baggage behind you in order to be happy. The Endless is a brave effort by Benson and Moorhead, who decided to break conventional storytelling instead of playing it safe and doing more of the same. While The Endless isn’t for everyone, the viewers who connect with the film have an endless good time watch the madness unfold.