The Endless fulfilled the promise of its name and felt never-ending. Listed as a horror, it is more a muddled sci-fi, low on suspense and high on exposition.
Brothers Justin (Justin Benson) and Aaron (Aaron Moorhead) are struggling to find contentment in their life in urban America. Aaron is dissatisfied at their lowly and repetitive jobs as cleaners and the packaged food they eat. Ten years before, they escaped from a UFO death cult in the desert and gained fleeting fame as they recounted to the media the horrors of their experiences. Aaron is younger and remembers only that the air was fresh and the food was wholesome and it felt like family. Oddly he doesn’t remember leaving the cult and believes the stories of older brother Justin.
After receiving a video where a fellow cult members talks about ‘the ascension’, something that Justin says is code for suicide, Aaron persuades him to return to Camp Arcadia for one brief visit. When they get there, after lots of spooky portents in the natural world around them, they find that the camp seems more of a commune than a cult. Predictably Aaron loves it, ignoring the oddness of the people there, and conflict arises when he wants to stay but Justin wants to flee.
And then comes the long drawn out story as characters at first hide what is going on and then helpfully tell us so that we can have a crack at understanding the predictable and convoluted plot. The biggest failing is the casting of the two leads who are also the film’s directors (and Benson is the writer). They are wooden and unbelievable as brothers, moving through scenes as if they are reciting lines. I suspect this decision was budgetary as the film is obviously made on a shoestring. The supporting cast aren’t so bad but their characters are paper thin, lending little substance to the story. The few women never speak to each other, there only to be love interest, muse or plot device.
Narratives that involve time anomalies are often hard to make believable and sensical. I’m sure on paper there was logic to the plot but, in the telling, the threads don’t all quite pull together. Reading some reviews on IMDb it seems that this film might have had some substantial references to Benson and Moorhead’s previous films, Spring (2014) and Resolution (2012), to the point where you needed to have seen them to understand this one. Oh well. I doubt I’ll be doing that.
The ending, I think, is designed to have us question what we believe about the story but by then I was so wearied of it that I didn’t really care.
Have you seen this film? Did I miss the point of it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.