The Endless (film)
|Directed by||Justin Benson|
|Written by||Justin Benson|
|Produced by||Justin Benson|
Thomas R. Burke
David Lawson Jr.
|Edited by||Michael Felker|
|Music by||Jimmy LaValle|
Love & Death Productions
Pfaff & Pfaff Productions
|Distributed by||Well Go USA Entertainment|
The Endless is a 2017 American science fiction horror drama film directed, produced by and starring Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead. Benson also wrote the film, while Moorhead was the cinematographer; both also acted as editors. It premiered on April 21, 2017 at the Tribeca Film Festival, before being released nationwide on April 6, 2018.
Co-starring Callie Hernandez, Tate Ellington, Lew Temple, and James Jordan, the film tells the story of two brothers (Benson and Moorhead) who visit an alleged cult to which they formerly belonged. The Endless may be interpreted as a partial sequel to Benson and Moorhead's 2012 film Resolution, as it shares the same universe and some of the same characters.
It received favorable reviews from critics, praising the direction, performances, particularly Benson and Moorhead’s, and story.
Brothers Justin and Aaron Smith receive a video cassette in the mail made by Camp Arcadia, a group they belonged to as young children. Justin and Aaron's recollection of events differ; Justin says the group was a UFO death cult, but Aaron recalls them as a harmless and friendly commune. Aaron points out that the video cassette proves the members are still alive. Justin, however, is worried that talk of "ascension" may be a code for some future mass suicide. Fed up with their inability to make friends or find good jobs since leaving Camp Arcadia, Aaron convinces Justin to return for just one day.
Justin and Aaron head to the backwoods of San Diego and receive a friendly welcome at Camp Arcadia. None of the members seem to have aged in the decade since the brothers left. Anna and Lizzy take an interest in Aaron and Justin, respectively. Although Aaron welcomes the attention, Justin stays aloof from everyone but his brother. One of the members, Hal, excitedly shows Justin a physics equation he has been working on. He says that he cannot explain what it represents, as it would be akin to describing an impossible color. However, he hopes that Justin will eventually accept the group's beliefs now that he is older. As they partake in various activities, Aaron grows increasingly fond of his time at Camp Arcadia, and he convinces Justin to stay an additional day.
During one activity, members attempt to win a tug-of-war against a rope that ascends into the dark night sky. Justin says it is held by a member on a ladder but cannot explain how he loses when everyone else is present. The brothers separately notice increasingly weird occurrences. While exploring the woods, Justin becomes convinced an invisible entity is observing him, and it leaves him a photograph of a buoy. When Justin presses Hal for answers, Hal admits that he knows no more than anyone else. His physics equation is his interpretation of what is happening, and he encourages Justin to find his own answers by following the entity's clues. He advises Justin to search the bottom of the lake under the buoy in the photograph. Two moons rise in the sky and Hal explains away the second moon as an atmospheric phenomenon, then says that two moons brings the truth and three moons signifies the ascension. Hal tells Justin to come to a conclusion before a third rises.
Justin and Aaron go fishing. When Justin sees the buoy from the photograph, he dives into the water. He returns with a toolbox and says that something else is under the water. When they open the toolbox, they find a tape. Freaked out by the strange events and ostentatious clues, Justin insists they leave immediately. At the camp, Hal and Justin get into an argument after Hal plays the tape, which is a recording of Justin and Aaron misrepresenting Camp Arcadia to outsiders. Justin calls Hal a cult leader, and Hal says Justin made up lurid stories to tell the press about Camp Arcadia. Outraged that Justin was misleading him, too, Aaron refuses to leave. Justin's car does not start, and he leaves to find help.
Justin encounters several people stuck in time loops, most of whom repeatedly experience their own violent deaths for the amusement of the entity. They explain that the entity has trapped them and that he will also become trapped once the third moon rises. Justin finds Aaron, who has come looking for him. Justin explains their danger, but Aaron still wants to stay behind, as he cannot stand returning to his old life. Aaron reasons that experiencing death at the hands of the entity, which is considered a sacred ritual by the cult, would be better than menial jobs and not having friends. When Justin admits he was wrong to force Aaron into this lifestyle, Aaron becomes hopeful that their life can improve and agrees to leave. The brothers barely escape as the entity destroys the camp.
- Justin Benson as Justin Smith
- Aaron Moorhead as Aaron Smith
- Callie Hernandez as Anna
- Tate Ellington as Hal
- Lew Temple as Tim
- James Jordan as Shitty Carl
- Shane Brady as Shane Williams
- Kira Powell as Lizzy
- David Lawson Jr. as Smiling Dave
- Emily Montague as Jennifer Danube
- Peter Cilella as Michael Danube
- Vinny Curran as Chris Daniels
- Glen Roberts as Woods
The film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 21, 2017. On May 1, 2017, Well Go USA Entertainment acquired distribution rights to the film. The film was released on April 6, 2018, by Well Go USA Entertainment.
On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 92% based on 130 reviews and an average rating of 7.5/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "The Endless benefits from its grounded approach to an increasingly bizarre story, elevated by believable performances by filmmakers Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 80 out of 100, based on 18 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Matt Zoller Seitz of RogerEbert.com gave the film 3½ stars, stating, "If you have a good idea, a strong cast, a smart script, and directorial chops, you don't need a lot of money to make a compelling movie. The Endless is proof."
Horror novelist and podcaster Brian Keene praised the film on social media, tweeting "The Endless is a true horror masterpiece—a David Lynch meets Stuart Gordon meets Don Coscarelli fever dream of Lovecraftian cosmic horror that demands repeated viewings."
- Debruge, Peter (May 3, 2017). "'The Endless' Review: Eerie Return to a UFO Death Cult". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved August 4, 2017.
- "The Endless (2018)". The Numbers. Retrieved January 3, 2018.
- Millican, Josh (April 18, 2018). "Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead Discuss The Endless, Resolution, and Red Marijuana". Dread Central. Dread Central Media. Retrieved June 22, 2018.
- Mobarak, Jared (May 2, 2018). "Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson on Creating the World of 'The Endless'". The Film Stage. Retrieved June 22, 2018.
- Douglas, Edward (April 6, 2018). ""The Endless" Filmmakers, Stars Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead on Making Micro-Budget Genre Films That Are Big on Ideas". The Tracking Board (Interview). Retrieved April 8, 2022.
- Busch, Anita (May 1, 2017). "'The Endless' Acquired For Distribution Out Of Tribeca By Well Go USA". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved August 4, 2017.
- Collis, Clark (March 1, 2018). "'The Endless': Two brothers revisit a cult in trailer for horror-thriller The Endless". Entertainment Weekly. Time. Retrieved April 9, 2018.
- "The Endless (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved March 26, 2021.
- "The Endless Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved April 16, 2018.
- Zoller-Seitz, Matt (April 6, 2018). "The Endless". RogerEbert.com. Ebert Digital LLC. Retrieved April 13, 2018.
- "Twitter". Brian Keene. Twitter. Retrieved July 8, 2018.