Starring Julia Farrell, Dustin Smith, Darrick Silkman
Directed by Aaron Gum, Faustus McGreeves
Endor opens with a hostile Bible quote, then cuts to one of those creepy church sermons that are all too commonplace these days, with the priest or pastor or whoever talking about how mankind is full of sin and how the wrath of God will smite the unjust. All it takes is for him to mention atheism and his congregation begin hissing like snakes to express their hatred for those who they feel are unworthy of God’s love. It’s safe to say that they would be Republican voters who watch Fox News.
We then cut to our atheist protagonist, Keira, as she travels deep into the heartland of Nebraska to meet the parents of her boyfriend, Russ. They’re enjoying the romantic road trip, accompanied by sweeping aerial photography of beautiful land inhabited by people who are anything but, when suddenly, one of the classic horror cliches kicks in. Their car runs out of gas. How long you wanna bet before they encounter a knife-wielding madman? Keira really shouldn’t have defiled the cross outside of that church she passed along the way.
You see, the title of the subject of this review isn’t referring to the Forest Moon where the Ewoks live, or the area of Middle-earth, but rather to the Witch of Endor, the only character in the Bible apart from God and Jesus with the ability to raise the dead. The small town in which the film takes place is named after said witch, and believe me… this is a place that tourists would do best to avoid.
After our two protagonists seek refuge in a nearby bar, we are again reminded that this a town where no reasonable minded person would like to live. Mentalities of small, isolated rural areas run deep. Not only are the people racist (they automatically assume that the only two black people in the town are somehow involved with the mayhem), but they are also hostile and fearful towards outsiders, distrusting anyone outside of their tight-knit, God fearing community.
Unfortunately, with the exception of a kindly old man who offers shelter to the couple, we don’t get to know much about any of the townsfolk as pretty much everyone is killed shortly after appearing. It would be nice if we got to spend a little more time getting to know some of these people, but no.
And the killings are nice and bloody, but a little too much at some points, including an unbelievable sequence in which our seemingly superpower hero single-handedly slaughters a room full of people, at one point even ripping off someone’s arm with his bare hands. Combine that with some cheesy dialogue (“I’m tired of being weak”), and the film falls into the OTT category at times. And I won’t spoil who or what it is that’s doing the killing, but trust me; no matter how much you pray, Jesus won’t be coming to save you this time.
Having made those slight criticisms, though, one of the strongest qualities of Endor is how efficiently it gets us to know and care about the two leads. The first and second acts focus almost entirely on character building, a rare trait in movies these days. Just listening to them engaging in small talk about their previous relationships and what kind of future they have planned together makes us want to see them prevail at all costs. So when the shit hits the fan and things get sour, I really wanted to see them come out on top. And things get really bad. There’s even an attempted rape at one point. They go through the absolute worst, and we root for them all the way.
Although it may fall short in other areas, as a story of two people doing their best to prevail against all odds, Endor soars high.