14 October 2017

London Film Festival Review: The Endless

(Dir: Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead, 2017)

The Endless is the type of low-budget, indie sci-fi that comes from a place of passion. That much was self-evident with Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead's previous film, the very good Spring, which played with genre conventions, had it's own style and voice, but was most notably full of heart. The Endless certainly feels cut from the same cloth, even if the core idea is not quite as appealing (a subjective viewpoint) and it doesn't have the same heart. This is a curious exploration of family – where does one feel at home and most comfortable, even if that location is not perceived to be the most ideal, and how does one connect and communicate with their siblings, or rather how they don't.

The story is set in a cult that appears more mysterious than insidious, and seemingly lacking a strident personality pulling the strings adds to the curiosity of why they actually exist. Part of the fun is working out what is going on and it provides an interesting explanation for a frequently assumed cultist practice. Such comments are best kept oblique as there's no fun having the film spoilt. There are ideas here rather than repeating tiredly worn story conventions, and that really helps make a film of this nature alluring. 

Visually it's obvious that Benson & Moorhead are working to get everything out of their meagre budget, and they take on the lead roles themselves – neither are outstanding but both are fine as brothers returning to a place they can't let go of. Crafting films at this level is a labour of love and they are also responsible for writing, cinematography and general production. Their characters are not always the easiest to empathise with, thus it feels as if it lacks quite the same amount of heart that makes Spring so good. The Endless is an enjoyable little puzzle of a film that doesn't always hit, but has enough in the way of ambition and ideas to be worth your time.

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