"The Endless"

“The Endless”: two brothers revisit a cult that knows the truth about immortality

“The Endless”, directed by Justin Benson and Aaron Moorehead and written by Justin, indeed imparts a fascinating experience of taking you across a “quantum” divide into possibly a new reality.

Justin and Aaron play “themselves” as two brothers who return to a desert cult (the film was shot near Descando, CA) that they had once fled.  The opening refers to a Lovecraft quote and then a Shakespeare one about the difficulty brother shave in challenging any kind of schism, compared to friends.

Aaron, the younger brother, is the more “enthusiastic” of the two, having received a bizarre DAT tape from a cult member that he should re-visit.   Twenty minutes into the 111 minute film, they arrive at “Arcadia”, which at very first glance resembles a camp for church retreats.  Indeed, the purpose of this intentional community is somewhat religious, of sorts – or say it is about religion and science.

As the brothers settle into the visit and the merriment, weird stuff starts to happen.  There are magic tricks involving playing cards, baseballs, and rope, that seem to violate the laws of causality in physics.  The entire effect is unsettling. Then they notice there is an extra copy of the Moon in the desert sky.  There is an old codger at a shack whose repeated motions play like a gif on Twitter, and there is a clock that turns back (see the music “Clockwork” written up here April 22).

There are also shape shifters and some desert artefacts that look like monsters that can come to life.  Aaron, who had promised Justin they would return after a day, wants to stay.  Furthermore, their truck won’t start.  Is it too much of a spoiler to say that the cult has found a ticket to immortality, but at a price?

The film was shot full widescreen but with color filters that make the landscape dusky, even alien. At times there are camera effects that simulate 3-D without the glasses. When I saw it, the sound was a little muffled, and some of the conversation hard to understand.

Other films with some similar themes: “Happy Death Day” (Oct 22, 2017), “The Ritual” (March 27), “The Corridor” (same writeup), and “Altar” (2016).

Scenery in San Diego county (similar to film).

Picture: southern Nevada, my picture, May 2012

Name:  “The Endless”

Director, writer: Justin Benson and Aaron Morehead

Released: 2017

Format: 2.35:1

When and how viewed: Angelika Popup, DC,  2018/4/24, some audience

Length:  111

Rating: PG-13

Companies:  Snowfort, Well Go USA

Link: Facebook, AV Club

Stars:   ***–

(Originally Posted: Tuesday, April 24, 2018 at 7 PM EDT)