‘The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear…’
Last October, in the run up to Halloween, I innocently sat down to watch a low budget, indie horror film titled Resolution. Little did I know at that point just how stressful and horrifying an experience that would prove to be. With Resolution, directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead created something visceral, something unique. I loved it. I was vaguely aware that Benson and Moorhead had released a sequel of sorts to Resolution but I didn’t realise I was watching that sequel until three quarters of the way through The Endless. A chill slivered down my spine when it dawned on me just what I was watching…
Aaron (Aaron Moorhead) and Justin (Justin Benson) are brothers who escaped from a UFO death cult, only to find their new life to be a slow trudge towards mediocrity. When Aaron agitates for a return to the cult, just to say goodbye of course, Justin reluctantly agrees.
There are many, many horror films with a similar premise to this one. Recent examples include The Sacrament, Midsommar and The Sound of My Voice; all of which were formulaic but successful examples of the cult genre. The Endless fits snugly into that list with familiar tropes such as an enigmatic cult leader and a mysterious temptress but it is the addition of time travel and specifically time loops that really makes The Endless sing.
As with Resolution, the implications of what we see on screen are truly unsettling, none more so that the man stuck in a five second time loop in which he is continuously murdered by some unseen antagonist over and over again. It is these deft flourishes that mark Benson and Moorhead out as a filmmakers. It should also be said that, along with the rest of the cast, the directors do a great job in front of the camera as well. Aaron and Justin are well drawn, nuanced characters who share a believable and good-natured chemistry that ensures we are with them every step of the way.
The Endless is not as immediately arresting as Resolution, nor as cruel, but it is an ambitious and unorthodox picture that finds something new and exhilarating to offer in a genre that so often rests on its laurels. A resounding success.