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The Endless (2017) Movie Review By Darrin Gauthier

The Endless Review

Directors: Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead
Writer: Justin Benson
Stars: Aaron Moorhead, Justin Benson, Callie Hernandez 

Plot:  As kids, they escaped a UFO death cult. Now, two adult brothers seek answers after an old videotape surfaces and brings them back to where they began.

Running Time: 1 hour 51 Minutes

IMDB Score: 6.5

Why I Watched It: This got some good genre buzz, I should say Indie genre buzz and yes it’s on Netflix so it’s their fault yet again.

Random Thoughts: Benson and Morehead seem to be team they’ve made a few films together and they’ve even included two characters from their other film Resolution in this film, not sure it if’s a nod, a kind of sequel but it’s not really they main story. They call this horror, it’s not really, maybe closer to a thriller, it is weird and strange though. Just know going in it’s not a straight up horror film.

What I Liked: The film does have a very odd vibe and really it kind of plays like a long Twilight Zone episode, the film does go the small budget indie route, the film takes it’s time and is in no hurry to get into plot this is very much idea and character based.  Morehead and Benson star and direct this film and and there’s no doubt the film is about them, they play brothers we know this cause they argue a lot.  The film does a very good job of making things off, we hear about this cult but it’s not the cliched cult we see in movies the people are nice and they don’t seem scary, a bit odd sure but nothing evil.    The best part of the film is that you’re not sure of where it’s going and you’re not really sure what genre this is going to be.

I liked the Benson character here, he’s the over protective brother and the one who knows something isn’t right.  The film also does a good job of showing the members of the cult as people rather than stock cliched nut jobs.  The film does a nice job of only giving us so much information and leaving stuff vague.  Also I liked the hook of the film that these two men come back to a cult that they were at when they were younger and everything seems the same.  The film also is trying to be smart, and be about something, there’s an under current here that is very smart and the screenplay does a nice job of exploring some interesting ideas.

What I Didn’t Like: The film is long and at times a bit boring, it does drag the long running time hurts the film cause it’s so slowly paced there’s really no tension to the film.  The film is a lot of talk, it is very much an “Indie” horror film, it’s about ideas not gore which unto it’s self is not a bad thing but really the film doesn’t get going till near the end.  It also drags the “plot” to the point where you really don’t thing the film is actually about anything.  There is no urgency to the film at all and the film ends up more of a mental exercise than an actual film, yes they pretty much ask “What’s it all about”

Don’t get me wrong I like films that try to be smart that try to explore ideas but at some point you have to say alright I get it, get on with it.  The acting is pretty good here but I really didn’t care for Moorehead’s character is sole purpose is to go back to the cult, and really his main point is they’re poor and the cult had good food, he comes off whiny and annoying plus he’s a major plot point cause he wants to go to the cult again and that’s the only real plot point we have.

In the last few months I’ve come across a few genre films that don’t explain themselves, I know a lot of people and critics love to say they like films that don’t over explain that leave it to the audience and I agree to a point but to explain nothing is dumb and lazy, let the audience do some of the work but not all of it and The Endless does this, I really don’t know the point of the film and watching something for almost two hours I’d like to come out with something to show for it.

Final Thoughts: An interesting think piece but not a very satisfying movie experience and yes the title is important, not just the fact this film does kind of well endless.

Rating: 5/10

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The Endless (2017) Blu-Ray Movie Review By D.M. Anderson

The Endless Review

Directors: Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead
Writer: Justin Benson
Stars: Callie Hernandez, Lew Temple, Emily Montague 

My youngest daughter, Lucy, is expanding her horizons. Good for her.

I introduced her to horror movies at an early age. While it remains her favourite genre, she’s become increasingly interested in science-fiction of the dark, brain-bending variety, perhaps due to the horror elements inherent in some of them. Since she really enjoyed recent films like Annihilation, Arrival and the under appreciated Life, The Endless sounded right up her alley.

What makes The Endless all-the-more impressive is that it was made for a fraction of the budget as those aforementioned titles. Ambitious films with limited resources must rely almost exclusively on the strength of their stories, and in their third collaboration, the directing team of Justin Benson & Aaron Moorehead deliver an intriguing premise that defies spoiler-free description. 

Casting themselves in the lead roles, Benson & Moorehead play – oddly enough – Justin and Aaron, two brothers whose lives have never fully returned to normal after escaping the grip of a UFO Death Cult. For closure, they return ten years later. They are welcomed back with open arms, yet something is amiss about their old friends, including the fact they’ve apparently not aged. Unusual, inexplicable events keep occurring – and re-occurring – in and around the camp. Still, Aaron wants to remain because he was always happier here than in the real world. Justin, on the other hand, becomes increasingly unnerved when he learns what’s happening and the devastating implications of staying.

To actually reveal what’s going on would spoil the film’s many surprises, which often lead us in one direction before throwing a wrench in our expectations (in the best possible way). The Endless reveals its secrets slowly, less concerned with making all the puzzle pieces fit than raising questions it sometimes prefers not to answer…not directly, anyway. The film’s relative ambiguity is one of its biggest narrative strengths. 

Even though the story and pace seem occasionally rambling, there is actually quite a lot happening in nearly every scene. But it isn’t until after everything is said and done that we think back to a particular ‘throwaway’ moment and suddenly understand its importance. 

Complex without ever becoming baffling, The Endless is dark sci-fi – with a few dashes of horror – that belies its relatively low budget with a great deal of imagination and creativity. Despite a deliberate pace, Lucy and I remained intrigued the entire time. And since the film doesn’t play all its narrative cards the way we expected, we had a lot to talk about afterwards.

Blair Witch (2016) Movie Review By Darrin Gauthier

Blair Witch Review

Director: Adam Wingard
Writer: Simon Barrett
Stars: James Allen McCune, Callie Hernandez, Corbin Reid

Plot: After discovering a video showing what he believes to be his vanished sister Heather, James and a group of friends head to the forest believed to be inhabited by the Blair Witch.
Running Time: 89 Minutes
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics 35% Audience 29%

Why I Watched It: Well it’s a horror film and yes I did see the other two films, no excuse I know.

Random Thoughts: This film was built once again my marketing, Adam Wingard had finished a film entitled The Woods but when they screened it for the first time the title was revealed as Blair Witch and social media went crazy. It was good marketing and on that level the film carried a buzz. Now Adam Wingard is a horror and genre favorite he made the very good The Guest, the flawed but decent You’re Next but he’s also made Death Note, that was not good and with Blair Witch he has now made two films back to back that were not his original story and I think that matters and it’s something it to think about when you watch Blair Witch. He’s taken over someone else’s franchise if you will.

What I Liked: I’m not a fan of found footage films, I think it’s a limited sub-genre and one that really has been done to death but here at least they’ve done it a bit better and made it that we’re not dealing with the dreaded shaky cam. So the film is easier to watch and it also makes sense to the story why they’ve decided to film the way they did.
The film is creepy and they build the tension well they throw some scares early and they also build the atmosphere and the sense of dread pretty well. The idea of the Blair Witch is a good one and they run with it pretty well.

The best part of the film has to be the last 15 minutes or so where the film does go full out horror and it’s scary and effective. Once they find the house the horror picks up.

What I Didn’t Like: One could argue this is not a sequel or reboot but almost a full on remake and with that the film is boring at times and lacks any kind energy to it, it feels like we’re watching a copy. Up till the end this is also a beat for beat remake and that was disappointing.

Also I think the whole set up is flawed so the brother of Heather from the first film goes to find here cause he saw an image on a tape from youtube? So it’s been 17 years and he thinks that his sister is still in a house that police say they couldn’t find. Now this brings up a few questions, if a person caught her on tape why didn’t they help her, also we see the image that could have been anyone and really anywhere so we start out very flimsy and also why do they think they can find it if the police couldn’t.

Another good question is when they get there weird things happen with time and things that are supernatural how come this didn’t happen to the police searching and also this is public woods not someone’s home so wouldn’t people be in there from time to time and where is the boarder to this strange Blair Witch forest. They try to make this story small, about a brother trying to find his sister but if people go missing and it’s been 16 years it’s a bigger story with a much bigger scope.

The other weak link is a combo of alright to not great acting and paper thin characters, all these people do is fight and bicker, yes like the first one and to be honest aren’t that interesting or likable. That’s a real problem with all these Blair Witch movies, we never see the Blair Witch, it’s not a character so it can’t carry the film it’s the victims we deal with and in all the movies they’re either under written or badly cliched written and that’s a huge flaw. It’s not like the Nightmare on Elm street movies where people went to see Freddy kill teenagers. We need to care about these people and we don’t.

Not a real fan of the ending as it’s very close to ending of the first one, I have a fundamental problem with something that can’t be beaten and in fact we don’t even know how to defeat the Blair Witch, there’s no rules, this movies hinges on not stopping the Blair Witch but finding a victim of her’s from 17 years ago.

Final Thoughts: The end part is scary and worth seeing but what leads up to it is cliched and boring. You have a choice watch the first or this one and if you’ve seen the first one then really you don’t need this one unless you want to see the 10-15 minutes of decent horror at the end.

Rating: 3/10