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The Endless (2017)

Directed by: Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead

Written by: Justin Benson

Starring: Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead

I was going to write about The Endless at some point in the future, but I found out that it was available for free from Wednesday on All4 so it’s clumsily jumped the queue like a drunken old lady in a Wetherspoons. You don’t have to thank me for sorting out your weekend viewing. Just name your firstborn “Dave”. And I understand my similes need some work.

Also, co-directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead’s new film Synchronicstarring Anthony Mackie and Jamie Dornan is released in the UK today (29 January 2021) so the timing felt appropriate. Why not have yourself a Justin-and-Aaron party this weekend?

In The Endless, Benson and Moorhead play… well… Justin and Aaron, two brothers who escaped a UFO death cult when they were younger. Now, a decade on, they eke out an existence in the city, surviving on ramen paid for by cleaning jobs.

Justin is convinced he saved his brother from certain death, but all the younger Aaron can remember is bonfires, good food and a family. When a videotape arrives on their doorstep, showing that the cult members are alive and well, Aaron persuades Justin that they should take a trip back to the camp. Just for one night. Really. Honest.

(First of all, let’s face it, if there are three words that will make me want to watch a film, it’s “UFO Death Cult”. Second, UFO Death Cult is now the name of my new band.) When the brothers arrive at Camp Arcadia, everything seems fine. Their old friends are welcoming. They brew their own beer. The men may or may not be castrated, but beer, right?

And I don’t know how much more I want to tell you. The less you know going in, the more the film will startle you with its revelations. It offers up its secrets in small parcels: An off-hand comment about how young the camp members look. A magic trick. A weird game of tug-o-war. And so the sense of unease increases as events grow more bizarre. Is there really an entity lurking in the woods around the camp, or is something even more mysterious going on?

Benson and Moorhead are good company, bickering and joking as brothers do, and the rest of the cast are great, drifting in and out as the story requires. As well as the acting roles, the co-directors take on most of the other film-making duties, and judicious use of special effects and startling cinematography from Moorhead means the film’s visuals punch far above its budgetary weight.

As a heads-up, The Endless exists in the same cinematic universe as Benson and Moorhead’s first film, Resolution. Don’t worry, though, you won’t be lost if you haven’t seen it. I haven’t and I think The Endless rocks.

The two film-makers are moving into a bigger universe, too, as they’ve impressed Marvel and signed up to direct Moon Knight for television. So here’s a chance to get in on the ground floor and tell your friends how you’ve been fans of their work for ages while you quickly read up about whatever Moon Knight is. Or, at least, that’s what I’ll be doing.

But back to The Endless. This is a film about relationships and family, wherever you may find it, and the effect time exerts on them. With the added bonus you may find your brains leaking out of your ears by the time the credits roll.

But it’s a film that deserves re-watching, so you’ll probably want to poke them back in and start it again. So get on with it, why don’t you?

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