Tribeca 2017 Review: The Endless Offers Satisfying Resolution

Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead are directors I have been following since I saw their first film together Resolution at Screamfest. That meta horror film tickled my analog media nostalgia, and their follow-up film Spring evolved their love of monster movies. The Endless seems to combine the obsessions of Resolution with the scope of Spring.

This time, Moorhead and Benson play the lead characters, Aaron and Justin Smith. The Smiths are two brothers who’ve been living on their own for 10 years after escaping a cult. Aaron, however, struggles with life on the outside and keeps looking for artifacts of the people he knew back then. Grudgingly, Justin accompanies Aaron to visit their old home in the hopes that Aaron can find closure and move on.

The Endless takes takes time building up the cult of Camp Arcadia. Justin’s cautionary view sounds logical. The Arcadia sure try to make it seem as pleasant as possible but rational viewers know that’s how they get you.

I certainly relate to revisiting your past, although I haven’t escaped a death cult. I’m not even nostalgic for high school, which would be the closest traumatic experience I’ve had. If you follow me on Facebook and Twitter though you see I’m obsessed with the movie theaters where I saw movies decades ago, and dead video formats where I first watched many movies. I certainly worry this is an unhealthy obsession. I ultimately think mine is harmless, but can appreciate Benson and Moorhead exploring a codependent relationship with one’s past.

Ambiguously supernatural things begin to happen, like a tug of war on a rope seemingly tied to nowhere. But it’s dark, so the sound indicates it’s tied to a tree. Many of the haunting images could be explained as natural phenomena, but of course that is the question The Endless is asking.

It still has a bit of the analog media obsession of Resolution. A camcorder and VHS ape with bad tracking play pivotal roles in the story.

Then it gets weirder and more circular. Some of it requires you to know Benson and Moorhead’s previous movies. You know Franchise Fred loves these references. The more obscure, the better.

Even without references, there’s no mistaking this is a Moorhead and Benson movie. The meta themes they deal with, imbued with a very real human conflict, and subtle but surreal visual effects have become their trademark three movies into their partnership.

Playing the leads must be a sort of meta commentary too. They’re playing brothers and fictional characters but perhaps the conflict is real or maybe just the notion of directors participating as characters means something.

The Endless premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival which is the festival that first discovered Resolution as well. When it goes wide, it’s definitely a must see for Benson and Moorhead fans. If this is the first film of theirs you see, you’ll have a real treat discovering Resolution and Spring afterwards too.

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