Friday, April 20, 2018


Opening this weekend at Harkins Valley Art in Tempe:

The Endless--Brothers Justin and Aaron fled the Heaven's Gate-style cult commune in which they were raised years ago. Now they live in poverty and loneliness, and Aaron is wretchedly homesick for Cult Sweet Cult. After they receive a mysterious videotaped greeting from the old gang, Justin very reluctantly agrees to go back to the isolated, mountainous compound in southern California for a day and a night, to let Aaron say goodbye and get some closure.

Needless to say, things do not go smoothly. The cultists, with their oily, knowing grins, welcome the brothers back all too eagerly, even seductively, and Justin can see Aaron being drawn back in. More disturbing still are the increasingly freaky signs that the group really is connected to some otherworldy force involving time and dimensional warps.

The guys who play the brothers, Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead (no relation, as far as I know), also wrote, directed and shot this indie sci-fi creeper, and created its special effects, and their precise, confident touch not only overcomes their very low budget but turns it into an advantage. The film has a hazy, overexposed look at times which may or may not have been intentional, but which adds to its atmosphere either way. At other times the sound seemed fuzzy and the dialogue was hard for me to catch, but that might have had more to do with my hearing than with any technical shortcoming.

In any case, The Endless is genuinely tense and weird and uneasy, yet it also has an edge of oddball comedy that I didn't see coming, and a warmth I wasn't expecting, either. Although it's a very different movie, in its general flavor it reminded me of another low-budget sci-fi indie, 2015's wonderfully strange Ethiopian post-apocalyptic saga Crumbs.

The idea of being trapped in a revolving time loop has an allegorical link to the idea of inescapable patterns of behavior, like those that might be found between a pair of bickering brothers. What makes The Endless special is it shows us the glimmers of love and kindness and humor that makes those time loops tolerable.

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