The Endless (2018)

This movie is brought to you by our friend Paul Andolina. Check out his website Wrestling with Film.

I stumbled upon the works of H.P. Lovecraft in a roundabout way. Back in 2006 I got a job at Game Crazy which is a video game store that used to be inside Hollywood Video locations. I would get free rentals from the video rental side and one day I picked up Beyond the Wall of Sleep directed by Barrett J. Leigh and Thom Mauer. It wasn’t the best horror movie but it was one that stuck with me for a very long time. I read the short story Beyond the Wall of Sleep, the story the film got its namesake and plot from on my old Gateway PC and dial-up internet. That was pretty much the extent of my exposure until many years later I won a contest with a few books of Lovecraft’s stories. I bought a nice leather-bound edition of his stories and it’s been love ever since. Being infatuated with cinema I decided to look into adaptations of his work which later led to discovering films with a Lovecraftian bent. Lovecraftian is a loaded descriptor, for some it simply means tentacles, fish people, and the relative weird associated with the writer. For me and many others Lovecraftian cinema means films that are either direct adaptations of Lovecraft’s stories or deal with themes prevalent in his work; xenophobia, the insignificance of mankind in the vastness of the cosmos, the inability of men to fathom and understand our reality, and devolution of man into more primitive states. 

Back in 2014 a film called Spring directed by Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead came out and it really stuck with me. I watched it, completely transfixed on the utter weirdness and sheer madness of what was on display, a romance that would culminate with the end of everything civilization had ever known. This directing duo was somehow able to completely convey the attraction and repulsion to the other in Spring and I simply could not wait to see more of what these could do with film. Well, this week saw the release of another film by the duo titled The Endless. The Endless focuses on two brothers, Justin Smith played by Justin Benson, and Aaron Smith, played by Aaron Moorhead, who escape from a UFO death cult and after receiving a tape from a member of the commune decide to return.

I have not had a movie viewing experience like this in a while. I’ve been having a very hard time fully concentrating on a film lately. The Endless, however, grabbed me by the beard and demanded I watch. It was so engrossing with the atmosphere it had, the characters it portrays, the imagery it gives you to process, and the mystery surrounding it. The cult members of Camp Arcadia are welcoming yet at the same time unsettling. You really care about the brothers struggles to discover what it is they have been searching for these past 10 years since escaping the camp. If you have read the short story Call of Cthulhu and wonder what the Cthulhu cultists were worshiping down in those Louisianian swamps then this is the film for you. Heck if the Jim Jones massacre is a morbid fascination for you then you should definitely check this out. This movie plays with so many of Lovecraft’s themes that it’s practically a treasure trove of material for you to ponder. If you’re even remotely interested in H.P. Lovecraft you’d do well checking this film out. Lovecraftian cinema is really a mixed bag, although there are many films that are direct adaptations of his writings, and some that play with his thematic elements, I feel like there hasn’t been a movie that can really make you think about the themes that he wrote about so often. In fact, I believe The Endless has the most fully realized Lovecraftian universe ever put onto a screen, even more so than my personal favorite In the Mouth of Madness. In the movie’s 111 minute run time you are treated to a smorgasbord of cosmic weirdness that will leave you wanting another 3 more courses of Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead’s delectable fare. I for one cannot wait to see what this duo can come up with next.

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