A way to describe The Endless is unpredictable. When the brothers head back to the California based area known as Camp Arcadia, they try to put their judgments aside. Justin is the person who convinced Aaron to leave the group, because of what he saw as an unhealthy, fanatical environment. From Aaron's point of view, he found his purpose, and an inner peace that was lacking after he left. The unforeseeable is exactly what is at play as soon as they arrive to the camp. It starts as a welcome return from self-made leader Hal (Tate Ellington), good-friend Anna, and mysterious artist Lizzy (Kira Powell), but that slowly shifts into strange occurrences all around. Baseballs float in the air for more than a few seconds, birds circle in the same spots over and over, and a disgruntled man constantly walks alone in what seems like an eternity. Justin is determined to figure out what is going on, while Aaron falls back into his own gullible beliefs.
I'd like to say that I could explain to you everything that happens in The Endless, but that's what makes it good. There is a lot going on, with space and time, which is open for interpretation from the viewer. One movie that came to mind while watching was Rian Johnson's Looper, a film that dealt with entering into a time loop, which changed with each new arrival to the past or present. In The Endless, Benson and Moorhead keep us guessing, often while their characters are in a state of confusion. The deeper Justin goes into the truth of the community the worse it becomes for him. The setting in the hot, desert-like California hills creates various images that look of entirely different planets. The Endless begins as a psychological thriller, where two men feel trapped by people, only to be stuck in a maze of time and space. It becomes trippy in all the cool ways.
By the time Aaron and Justin discover what is truly going on, it becomes a puzzle that they must solve together. The pieces are like fragments, surrounding them in the imagery of the film. Visuals, such as, the sky lighting up to look like a demon with bright red eyes, rooms that look familiar from a painted picture, or pillars of rock that look like statues of gods. It surrounds them, guides them in their path to discovery, but at the core of that journey is what it means to be family. The films opening quote is about loving friends more than family, which is the major rift between Aaron and Justin's relationship. Sometimes it takes being trapped in a time-loop for brothers to see how close of friends they are.
For all of these reasons, and more, The Endless is one of the finer independent films of the year. Benson and Moorehead prove themselves worthy, for bigger things to come, with a narrative that's not only smart, but engaging. At times, The Endless was moving too fast for me to absorb every detail, making it the perfect movie for multiple viewings. My praise for The Endless is, well, endless.
Written by: Leo Brady
MOVIE: THE ENDLESS
STARRING: JUSTIN BENSON; AARON MOORHEAD; CALLIE HERNANDEZ
DIRECTED BY: JUSTIN BENSON; AARON MOORHEAD
AMovieGuy.com's RATING: 3 STARS (Out of 4)
The Endless adds itself to an elite group of independent sci-fi films. These are movies that prove big budgets don't always make a difference, but great writing does. Other films such as Primer, James Ward Byrkit's Coherence, or Mike Cahill's Another Earth have become these unique forms of cinema, where the sets may be small, but the ideas are extremely big. I love movies like these, because it shows faith in the audience, and a willingness to create. The Endless is a mind-bender and the third feature of the directing team of Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead. The story involves two brothers- named Justin & Aaron, also played by Benson & Moorhead, two guys who escaped control from a cult-like community. Now they work dead-end jobs, but when they receive a mysterious videotape from Anna (Callie Hernandez), it entices Aaron to go back one more time, in the hopes of saying goodbye to his past circle of friends. Will it be a quick resolution? Or will they be sucked back into this creepy community? You need to see for yourself, because The Endless is a worthy trip.