Horror filmmaking is undergoing something of a modern Renaissance. Just this month saw the release of “It,” the most lucrative horror film of all time, and “mother!,” one of the most ambitious horror films ever.
The programmers at Fantastic Fest pride themselves on the strength of their horror slate, and “The Endless” is this year’s best effort in the genre. An intelligent brain-twister of a gimmick allows writers/directors/stars Justin Benson and Aaron Moorehead to weave an intricate and emotional tale into the fabric of a typical horror film.
Justin Benson and Aaron Moorehead play characters named after themselves (though they don’t play themselves), two brothers in adulthood who escaped a death cult when they were younger. As adults, the brothers barely have enough money to scrape by, and Aaron’s discontentment with their poor living conditions leads them back to the cult.
When they return as adults, they notice something mysterious with the cult (outside of being a cult). A supernatural force surrounds them, causing unexplainable occurences which the members of the cult attribute to their deity. Justin and Aaron suspect otherwise, and their investigations into the truth lead to high-level conceptual science fiction involving the manipulation of time and space.
Through this gimmick, Benson and Moorehead offer a statement on the nature storytelling and the repetitive tropes of horror, similar to their debut film, “Resolution.” The film as a whole feels almost like an extension of that debut, expanding the scope while retaining a focus on a relationship between two believable characters. It is worth watching “Resolution” before seeing “The Endless,” if only just to see the filmmakers’ evolution and maturity.
After three brilliant low-budget films, Justin Benson and Aaron Moorehead have made their presence known, and will hopefully soon be given a large-enough budget to break into the mainstream.
- Rating: Not yet rated
- Runtime: 111 minutes
- Score: 4.5/5 stars