The Endless is a 2017 science fiction film produced, edited, & directed by Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead (Resolution, Spring, & V/H/S Viral). It shares the same universe & similar plot point as their earlier film Resolution. It premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2017 & it was the first genre film to play in Competition since Let the Right One In. Brothers Justin (played by: co-director, producer, editor, & writer Justin Benson from Contracted: Phase II & Dementia) & Aaron Smith (played by: co-director, editor, & producer Aaron Moorhead from BeerBongi, The Day the President Moved Thanksgiving, & The Eagle and the Pit) escaped a cult when they were kids. They receive a video from from Anna (played by: Callie Hernandez from Alien: Covenant, Blair Witch, From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series, & La La Land) many years later. They decide to visit their old compound after seeing it since she was a member. Cult leader Hal (played by: Tate Ellington from Straight Outta Compton, Sinister 2, Shameless, The Brave, & Quantico) welcomes them back & he says they have grown stronger since they left. The other members include Tim (played by: Lew Temple from The Devil’s Rejects, The Walking Dead, Halloween, 31, & The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning), Jennifer Danube (played by: Emily Montague from Fright Night & Resolution), Shitty Carl (played by: James Jordan from True Blood, Wind River, & Veronica Mars), & Smiling Dave (played by: producer David Lawson Jr from Resolution). They are make a living off homemade beer. Aaron gets brought back into the life of the following. Justin doesn’t buy what they are trying to sell & doesn’t trust his sibling’s judgement. The brothers get into some weird rituals with Shane Williams (played by: Shane Brady from Spring & V/H/S Viral). As they get more close into this circle, things start to get strange & mysterious. Will they leave before it’s too late or are they are in too deep?
The Endless is the definition of “Slow Burn”. It takes a long time to go anywhere & it’s more psychological than physical. You have to be very patient with it because it will test it until about the 70 minute mark. Don’t get me wrong, it’s well written & the cinematography looks great. One of the biggest highlights for me was the score & it really just took over at times. It grabs your attention right away unlike the first half of this production. The pacing of this was pretty bad to be honest. That’s the biggest flaw with The Endless. It just doesn’t do much until it hits a little past the first hour. The cult angle is under used & it’s basically just a set up for everything. It does give more of a character study with the small cast here. The acting & performances were better than most independents around. All of that quality helps it make it to where it really takes off & starts to show you something. The last 30 minutes make it worth the wait & you end up more satisfied than you thought you would be. I feel like this is that kind of cinema that you have to actually digest & maybe appreciate it more after a few more viewings. It just doesn’t make the best first impression to me but it ends strong which makes you want to revisit it to see if material that you didn’t notice or pick up on before because it at times it feels like there’s other stuff lurking.
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation for this Well Go USA disc. This 1080p (2.39:1) transfer looks great for a low budget independent feature. The cinematography looks beautiful on this production & the visuals are one of the shining stars from this film. You get two different options for audio on here either the English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 & English: Dolby Digital 2.0 tracks. They both sound really good in the home system & certain moments are really elevated here! English SDH subtitles are also included on this blu ray release. Both picture & sound are very impressive on here.
Let’s discuss the special features on this release from Well Go USA! Audio Commentary with Directors/Actors Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead, & Producer/Actor David Lawson Jr. They chat about the origin of the film. They go over how it got it financed. They mention how much their other film Spring got rejected by everyone & it was hard to get made. They also bring up how they backed Resolution with their own money. They say this one was much easier to get money for compared to all their previous work. They say that House of the Rising Sun lyrics are public domain & that’s why they used it in the feature. David Lawson mentions that he wasn’t a fan of acting in this. They talk about the cast & locations of the production. They talk about the rough shooting schedule & get real specific about scenes here. Aaron Moorhead never smoked before until this feature & it had him messed up after many takes. They mention stuff that was removed & cut from this. They talk about the advantage of having two directors. They joke about it also. They talk about using personal items for their production design & set ups. They tell you the origin of a character in this. They mention the Lion was actually stock footage from Peru. They point out multiple connections to their other film Resolution. They tell stories & go into various other things about The Endless. It’s a pretty informative track & helps the slow first half move along better compared to the original audio on it.
“Making Of” is almost 32 minutes & it covers the production of The Endless. The directors bring up the origins of the film. They talk about the connection to their film Resolution. They discuss the struggles of financing in Independent film. They go into how they got backed for this through someone online. They talk about their rehearsal process for film making. They chat about the casting for this project. They mention a family tragedy before working on this. The production design team chimes in & says a few things about the film. Composer Jimmy Lavalle, Sound Designer Yahel Dooley, & Editor Michael Felker talk a little about their experience on the feature. Behind the Scenes has two different sections. “Michael Felker, The Editor” is almost 3 minutes & “Outtakes” is 10 minutes. Both are the cast & crew having fun on the set making jokes while working pretty much. It looked like everyone was enjoyed what they were doing on this film. 7 “Deleted Scenes” that equaled up to almost 7 minutes. They mentioned a few of these scenes in the previous audio commentary. “VFX Breakdown” is almost 3 minutes & it shows you how they did some of the effects on the production. Ridiculous Extras is separated into various sections. Casting: “Smiling Dave” is almost 3 minutes & “Aaron” is a little over a minute. They show their sense of humor on these & it’s very fun to watch. “Vinny’s Story” is 9 minutes. It’s good to see them lighten up the mood for this extra. “Breaking the News” is 3 minutes. You can tell they had fun making this. “UFO Cult Comedy” is a little over 3 minutes. I enjoyed all of these silly additions to the disc. You also get promotional material which include “Tribeca Promo”, “Teaser Trailer”, & a “Trailer”. It comes with a slipcover. Well GO USA has provided a decent amount of extras for this release. Recommended for any science fiction , slow burn, & psychological fans.