Sep 30, 2018
Welcome back to Sponsor Sunday! No new sponsors this week, but we will begin a multi-week Patreon campaign next month to raise sponsors for the podcast. One of those benefits is selecting a film for me to review on Sundays, and much more. If you want to check out our sponsorship levels right now, head over to patreon.com/onemoviepunch and consider pledging at any level. Much more is on the way, however!
Today’s movie is “The Endless” (2017), the science fiction thriller written by Justin Benson and directed in collaboration with Aaron Moorhead. The film follows two brothers, Aaron (Aaron Moorhead) and Justin (Justin Benson), who escaped a UFO death cult years ago. However, a mysterious videotape encourages them to check back in on the group, and the journey contains unexplained phenomena that begin to challenge their beliefs.
People throw around the word Lovecraftian a lot. And when most people use the term, they mean there’s a monster that is akin to one of the many Lovecraftian gods, or more generally speaking, any supernatural horror tale involving madness, almost exclusively focused on the Cthulhu mythos. However, H.P. also wrote some dream-like, reflective, surrealistic works that bordered on the sublime. And, since we’re being honest, some pretty direct racism in more than a few works. But it wasn’t just the ideas that made Lovecraft a literary figurehead. His writing has a way that affects you emotionally, deep in terror while reading from the Cthulhu mythos, or sheer astonishment in his lighter writings. “The Endless” is probably the first Lovecraftian film that fits not just some, but all of the criteria, and for a Lovecraft fan like me, that’s amazing.
“The Endless” is a modern Lovecraftian story, using modern science fantasy themes like UFOs, death cults, time loops, and multiple dimensional barriers to tell a deceptively emotional story. I mean, they even put a quote in the opening credits. Aaron and Justin are guided by a mysterious videotape that arrives with a message from their former commune, and it makes them react very differently as folks who have gone through deprogramming. One doesn’t see their current “modern” life as better than what they had in the commune. The other simply doesn’t want to deal with any of it, and here we have one videotape creating a conflict which lasts the rest of the film. So much complexity in a setup, and the beauty of the writing is that almost every detail in the beginning has a callback at some point in the film, especially as the madness is unfolding around them. And much like Lovecraft’s characters, instead of trying to reject what they see, they have to embrace and push through the madness if they hope to survive.
The film’s dialogue is chock full of big ideas, everything from one’s purpose in life, to the effect each supernatural or science fantasy idea has on their reality, ethics and identity. It’s definitely a thinking film, and there’s no doubt that will turn away some viewers. The subtle special effects, like the three moons in the sky, land a lot better than some of the larger effects. And the final scenes have some rough dialogue, which for an unengaged viewer might be a reason to give it a thumbs down. As for me, though, I was more than willing to forgive the flaws, especially because the rest of the film is incredible and truly Lovercraftian. They have a giant evil space god and everything!
“The Endless” (2017) is a philosophical science-fantasy film clearly and intentionally influenced by H.P. Lovecraft. Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, along with a great supporting cast, deliver a refreshingly unique film that opens up many more possibilities. Fans of Lovecraft, and I’m talking the folks who’ve read the material, should definitely check out this film. Everyone else, just know going in that it’s going to get weird and there are going to be a LOT of big ideas, and if neither of those are dealbreakers, then queue it up and prepare to have your mind blown.
Rotten Tomatoes: 95% (FRESH)
One Movie Punch: 9.0/10
“The Endless” (2017) is rated TV-MA and is currently streaming on Netflix and Hoopla.