The Endless Blu-ray Review
The Endless Film Review
The H.P. Lovecraft-inspired follow-up to the well-received low budget horror Resolution sees filmmaking duo Justin Benson and Aaron Scott Moorhead aim for creepy cult happenings.Popular on the Festival circuit, Benson and Moorhead have made quite a name for themselves over the last few years, gaining interest with their debut horror Resolution, before working on part of the horror anthology V/H/S, and then the romantic body horror (if that's even a sub-genre), Spring.
The fresh young filmmakers are already celebrated for being able to tell a compelling story for a non-existent budget, with this latest production made for a shockingly low couple of hundred thousand dollars. Sure, it is evident from the opening shot, but the pair work wonders with what little they have, turning in a tense indie piece that keeps you perpetually off-kilter, gleefully messing with your mind.
A good story and a decent directorial eye go a hell of a long way.
The story sees brothers Justin and Aaron (imaginative names, given they are played by the writer/directors Justin and Aaron themselves) receive a strange communication from a member of an old cult that they both escaped - a UFO 'death cult' - and journey back to the group to get some answers.
The Endless goes beyond simple narrative explanation, having you wonder your way through everything you're seeing as it plays out, and then re-thinking the whole damn thing after you get to the end. It's a creepy get-under-your-skin kind of affair, dripping with ominous mystery as it offers more questions than answers on its elusive voyage for an explanation to the strange happenings at the cult sight.
Although the visual style of the piece belies its micro-budget, it does take a while to get used to the stripped-back feel, with the acting of Benson and Moorhead themselves taking some time to warm to. For those who have seen Resolution, this is something of a follow-up, a companion piece set in the same universe, with the duo essentially expanding that universe whilst shifting focus to the characters they played in that earlier movie.
The bigger cast allows for bit parts for a number of vaguely familiar players, including one of the Alien: Covenant crew, Callie Hernandez, Wind River's James Jordan, and Quantico's Tate Ellington, who all help convince with respect to the twisted tale.
Benson and Moorhead reference H.P. Lovecraft repeatedly in this mystery horror (not least in the quote at the start), and there's more than a little In the Mouth of Madness here too, which is a hell of an accomplishment given what they had to work with, and a testament to how a good story and a decent directorial eye go a hell of a long way.
The Endless Blu-ray PictureArrow bring The Endless to Region B-locked UK Blu-ray complete with a 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation framed in the movie's original limited theatrical aspect ratio of 2.4:1 widescreen.
Shot digitally, there's no doubt that this is a limited budget production, and it takes a while to settle into the visual 'style' which, at least initially, feels slightly amateurish before it finally hits its stride. There are some interesting visual choices here, almost certainly made purposefully, but nevertheless frequently bathing the image in a dull, soft haziness that is juxtaposed by some latter daytime shots that are, conversely high contrast and pretty bright.
It takes a while to settle into the visual style.
There are some nice facial details, texturing and an effusion of grain helping maintain the illusion, with the limited effects work almost always put down to visual illusions rather than outright effects (at least until the final act). Clearly the filmmaking duo were going for outright dream-like qualities - understandable given the narrative - drowning the piece in browns and almost sepia undertones (particularly at night), with black levels thankfully holding up and maintaining strong shadow details to frame the darker shots.
It's hard to regard this as impressive from a technical standpoint but, by the same token, it is also highly likely that this looks just about exactly the way that it was supposed to look. As such, despite being a far cry from demo territory, it's a strong video presentation of an extremely unusual film, not least in terms of unconventional visuals that belie the budget.
The Endless Blu-ray SoundThe accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is an initially quite understated affair, relying upon nominal atmospheric effects and a remarkably effective score that provides a wonderfully ethereal backbone to the piece.
A remarkably effective score.
Dialogue remains prioritised across the frontal array, taking precedence for the most part, with the cast affording the film softer conversational tones that help build character and mood. Effects are fairly limited, but do allow the strange cult camp happenings to come to life with a creepy feel, allowing the campfire congregations, sporadic gunshots, and cricket-driven insects to pepper the audio array with just enough flavour to keep the piece engaging.
It's the score though, which is really quite restrained, that guides you through this offbeat horror mystery, running the full gamut of emotions with its sombre sci-fi tones.
The Endless Blu-ray ExtrasArrow's Blu-ray release of The Endless is one of the most impressive packages in their consistently impressive oeuvre, which is quite an achievement.
A two-disc set, the first disc holds the main feature, The Endless, and is already stacked to the brim with extra features relevant to that production. The writer/directors deliver an informative headlining Audio Commentary, and there are also Interviews with the duo recorded exclusively for this release.
There are smaller Featurettes looking behind the scenes, delving into the VFX, a series of Audition tapes and also a whole host of faux extras and outtakes, often tongue in cheek, which make for playfully fresh additions. A few Deleted Scenes and some Trailers round out an already comprehensive package.
One of the most impressive packages in their oeuvre.
The diamond in Arrow's release, however, comes in the form of its second disc offering - packing in with The Endless an entire additional movie, with the filmmaker duo's debut and The Endless's prequel, Resolution, presented in 1080p complete with a DTS-HD MA 5.1 track.
Whilst most viewers intrigued by these films will probably only reach Resolution after having seen The Endless, there's something to be said for watching the former first. A perfect companion-piece, it is set in the same universe and also technically set before it, and the events of The Endless thus inherently spoil those in Resolution.
The focus is on Michael, a successful graphic designer who receives a message from his former best friend, Chris, who is now a crack addict, and journeys into the middle of nowhere to try and talk some sense into him. Handcuffing Chris within his own shed, Michael initially has to fend off the local drug dealers but experiences some increasingly strange occurrences within the location.
Resolution also has it's own bevvy of additional features. There's not one but three Audio Commentaries, the first two from the filmmakers, one of which sees them paired with the lead actors, whilst the third is something of a mock Commentary from Carmel the Dog. There's also another exclusive Interview with the filmmakers, an archival Interview from them, a Behind the Scenes Featurette and a whole host of faux features labelled 'weird extras'. The disc is rounded off by some Outtakes and Promos. Phew!
The Endless Blu-ray VerdictThe diamond in Arrow's release comes in the form of an entire additional movie, the prequel Resolution.
Fans of the surprisingly effective micro-budget indie work of this filmmaking duo - or those intrigued enough to want to investigate their work - will find Arrow's package superlative, affording a whole host of extra features including the prequel movie which should arguably be watched first. It's a tremendous release.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £14.99
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