What cyclical hell is this!?!?
To remind us all that there is an eventual end to all this self quarantine, I’ve decided to review a movie about a cult that will forever self quarantine.
I ended up watching this because a friend recommended it after I surprisingly enjoyed Color Out Of Space (2019). The 2010’s brought us a huge uptick in seriously quality Lovecraftian horror, many of which made it on to my ‘All Time Top Horror‘ list.
Black Mountains Side (2014), The Lighthouse (2019), Banhee Chapter (2013), and Yellowbrickroad (2010), all had Lovecraftian influences or were a direct head nod to H. P. Lovecraft himself. I have to say, as a horror writer that focuses on Cosmic Horror, it’s been great for business.
Initially, when I read the description of The Endless, nothing about it smacked of Lovecraftian horror. The description hinted towards sci-fi horror, not cosmic horror. I was expecting something more like The Signal (2014), which barely constituted abduction horror (for that, turn to Fire in the Sky, 1993 or Alien Abduction, 2014). I continued to put it off, favoring what seemed like more relevant reviews.
However, The Endless is extremely relevant, and I’m actually recommending it as a ‘must watch.’ There are two reasons for this. First, it’s a shoe-stringer, and what they accomplished with their lack of budget was impressive. Every bit as impressive as Yellowbrickroad, only without the ‘Shaky Camera.’ Second, like Lord of Illusions (1997), it didn’t need to be a creature feature to capture the Lovecraftian feel. This movie is about investigating things that are absolutely insane and dealing with the illogical in the most logical manner possible.
Because it’s a shoe-stringer, there is a ton of this movie that was problematic. The final sound mix was fucking awful. The ambient soundtrack was blaring, but I’d frequently have to turn up the volume just to hear the fucking dialog. There is CGI in the movie and it can look a bit cartoonish. They used it very sparingly and did everything in their power to mask it, but it could occasionally fuck the atmosphere up.
The thing is, the acting is actually impressive for horror. It’s not award winning or anything and can be a bit flat or melodramatic, but it’s brilliant, as is the aforementioned hard to hear dialog. Also, outside the occasionally jarring sound, and shitty CGI, the atmosphere is also quite good. I think with some money, both those things could be remastered and improved without having to budget a full blown re-do. The characters are all also pretty interesting and none of them are lame or tropey.
Finally the mythos is just absolutely enthralling. Peeling back the layers and slowly determining what the fuck is going on in the cult is just fascinating. That and it’s particularly well written with the plot, the characters, and the dialog. You really want to know what the fuck is going on, and while the reveals and discoveries are quick, you just want to know more. Obviously, I can’t get into it without going into the spoilers.
Needless to say, this movie is damn good. Good enough where it can even recommend all adult audiences. Even still, Horror Heads and fans of Lovecraftian horror are likely going to enjoy this.
It really is a ‘must watch.’
If you’ve seen In The Tall Grass (2010), then you’ll pick up pretty quick on what’s happening at the cult. Everyone in the valley has been ensnared by a creature that can control time and space and can effectively loop it. This one, however, is far more powerful that The Tall Grass, because it’s not so easily defeated. You can’t just look over the grass to prevent it from bouncing your tangent time/space position, or use dead bodies to maintain a consistent time/space tangent until you reach the road. Once you’re stuck in one of the loops, you are permanently a part of that causality loop, and even worse, you KNOW you are. Hell, it even lets you see outside of the loop (others being able to see in), you just can’t leave. If there is even a way to leave, none of the characters trapped in a loop have figured it out yet.
What’s truly brutal about this, is that the length of your loop is relative to when you wandered into the valley along a ten year cycle. One particular character camped on the edge at the end of the full ten year loop and unfortunately got stuck at the edge right when the loop was resting. He now lives in a permanent three second cycle where he can always just barely see the edge, but never makes it out. The worst part for that poor bastard? At the end of your cycle, regardless of how short it is, the thing controlling the valley gets to eat you. That means every three seconds, he becomes a snack.
The length of each loop varies from a couple weeks, to a couple hours, to the cult which enjoys the full ten years. The nice part about being in the cult, is that you live forever, and only have to die a short, though gruesome death, at the end of the full ten year cycle.
So what is the creature that controls the loops of the valley? Just like In The Tall Grass, you never get to know. There’s a monolith in the valley and a couple of artistic renderings of this shadowy C’thulhian form, but you never get to see it. As my friend pointed out, “It’s the not knowing, the completely alien motives of the thing, that makes it terrifying. There’s no resolution, no victory, you can only escape it if you figure it out on time.”
Do watch this. It’s basically In The Tall Grass, but far better.
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