Way back in 2013, Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead fucked my whole world up. Their first joint-production, Resolution, kept me up for hours. I devoured countless message board threads and fan theories in hopes of gaining some sort of closure on what it was, exactly, that I just saw. It still stands as one of the most thought-provoking films I’ve seen. Period. The duo followed things up with the less enigmatic, but absolutely brilliant, Spring. And for every ounce of ambiguity that was present in Resolution, Spring matched it with romance and intrigue. It was official: Resolution was not a fluke, and Benson and Moorhead were the real deal. When their latest film, The Endless, was announced, I had no clue as to what to expect. Given their wide range of films already on display, it could be anything. I told myself I wouldn’t be surprised… but holy shit–I was wrong.
The Endless is many things. It’s smart, it’s gorgeous, it’s sad, it’s powerful, and it’s absolutely dripping with originality. But beyond any of that, and perhaps most importantly for fans of their previous works, it’s surprising. Benson and Moorhead said they felt like they had been keeping a secret for years, and that was a secret well kept.
The film follows a pair of brothers that return to the cult that they fled several years previously. To call their post-cult lives uneventful would be an understatement, so returning to the site that they worked so desperately to flee almost feels therapeutic, if not unnerving. The brothers (played by Benson and Moorhead themselves) express very different emotions upon returning, and those emotions evolve throughout the course of the film. Are these people that bad after all? Are they crazy? If they are, is that such a bad thing if everyone is happy? Trust me, I found myself craving some time at the “camp” myself–I suspect you will too.
The Endless is pure, genre-defying magic. The performances turned in are top-notch, the cinematography is awe-inspiring, and the narrative not only tells the story of brothers Justin and Aaron, but will more than likely tell your own story as well; a story of cyclical mistakes and wondering if staying within them is justified because escaping isn’t as easy. 2017 has been an excellent year for genre films already, but I can’t imagine another arriving this year that does more for me than this one. Watch their previous films if you haven’t already, and press play on The Endless as soon as you possibly can.
The Endless [Tribeca ’17 Review]