Starring Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead, Callie Hernandez, Tate Ellington
Written by Justin Benson
Directed by Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead
The Endless is the first film from filmmaking team Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead since 2014’s Spring, a swooningly romantic indie drama set in Italy – that also happened to feature a Lovecraftian fish-monster. Mixing Before Sunset with The Shadow Over Innsmouth is a genre mash-up that probably shouldn’t have worked, but thanks to Spring’s assured direction, naturalistic style and strong characters, it did.
Benson and Moorhead head back to the Lovecraft well with The Endless, with the duo themselves playing the central characters. The fittingly named Justin and Aaron are brothers and ex-members of a UFO death cult, and when they receive a mysterious video from their old cult they decide to take a trip back to say goodbye and reconcile with their past. They’re welcomed back with open arms, but while Aaron finds himself tempted to rejoin, Justin starts to notice some seriously weird things at Camp Arcadia – and comes to realize the entity the cult worships may not just be a fable.
Like Spring, The Endless isn’t quite a straightforward horror movie, and initially unfolds like a quirky character drama, with the creepiness mostly coming from how unrelentingly friendly the cult is. Things take a turn for the surreal when more information is revealed about the deity at the center of the cult’s religion, and Justin gets sucked into the mystery of whether or not it really exists.
One strength of The Endless is that it’s tough to predict what will happen next because it rarely takes the obvious route. It can be a little bit Wicker Man one moment, before jumping to awkward comedy the next, but the jump between tones really feels jarring. That also makes it tricky to talk about specifics without spoilers, but the reveal of The Endless’ central mystery is a satisfying one, and it’s a cinematic device Benson and Moorhead have fun playing with.
That said, while the movie has eerie moments and concepts, it’s never truly frightening either. Most of the chills are of the psychological variety, but the filmmakers stretch their limited budget to produce some effective CGI assisted shots too. Benson and Moorhead make for likeable leads, but it’s Tate Ellington as Camp Arcadia’s unfailingly polite leader Hal who makes the biggest impression among the cast. Fans of the duo’s first effort Resolution should also be happy, since The Endless includes several ties back to that movie, including the cult itself.
The Endless is a solid indie horror, deftly mixing tones and creating a unique central threat. Sadly, the horror is a little too abstract to truly dig under the skin, but fans of Benson and Moorhead – or Lovecraft – will have a good time at Camp Arcadia.
- Audio commentary by Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead
- Brand-new interview with Benson and Moorhead
- Behind-the-scenes featurette
- Breaking the News, Benson and Moorhead pull a practical joke on actor Vinny Curran
- Casting Aaron, Benson, Moorhead and producer Dave Lawson audition for the role of Aaron
- Casting Smiling Dave, Lawson auditions for the role of Smiling Dave
- VFX Breakdown
- UFO Cult Comedy, improvised short film made whilst Benson and Moorhead were on the festival circuit
- Vinny’s Story, a behind-the-scenes documentary filmed on-set by Curran
- Michael Felker, a tongue-in-cheek featurette referencing The Endless’ editor
- Seven deleted scenes
- Reversible sleeve with a choice of artwork designs
While the title may be the most blatant cast of false advertising since The NeverEnding Story, The Endless is a creepy little tale with solid performances and a unique hook. Recommended.