Fantasy collaboration moment: I’d love to put Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead and Shane Carruth in a room together and see what happens. I think that the sheer amount of scientific know-how of Carruth combined with the grasp of human emotion Benson and Moorhead demonstrate would give us something terrifically human and wonderfully speculative. Until that moment, we have the collaborations of Benson and Moorhead – the recent one is The Endless (2017), a film centering around two brothers who return to the cult they fled. Weird stuff ensues. Here are five reasons to watch it this weekend.
#1 – Benson and Moorhead magic
If their names sound familiar, these two are the ones responsible for Spring (2014), which remains a darling of many horror circles. They also did Resolution (2012) and a segment of V/H/S (2014), both of which were well-received. In this film, they play brothers who escaped a cult and are struggling to carve out identities and livings. Watching the pair interact – especially after seeing what they can do with their writing alone – is strangely moving. The closeness of their chemistry onscreen is enough to make you wonder if they’re even acting because they come off as believable siblings. If this is the result of them working together, I hope they’re together forever.
#2 – Floundering after a scary step
The brothers, named Justin and Aaron as well, have left a cult. Their perspectives of the cult are different, but the fact remains that they both left after youthful involvement and questioning. What leads them to return for a visit is equal parts sad and pitying: they’re having trouble fitting into society and can’t seem to nail down decent jobs. If you’ve ever had to leave something toxic, you’ll recognize how hard it is to escape something you know is bad for you. I’ll be honest, watching someone return because life hasn’t gotten better breaks my heart.
#3 – It’s a cult!
There’s an odd cultural fascination with cults. We think they sound weird; we think they look weird. And yet time and time again, people fall for it and we don’t know why. The differing perspectives mentioned above are enough to make you wonder which of the brother is right: Justin, who thinks it’s a UFO death cult, or Aaron, who characterizes it as a bunch of nice hippies on a farming commune. And here’s the thing: some days, after driving in rush hour traffic and dealing with people who are absolute assholes in grocery stores, I can totally see why someone would join up with either one.
#4 – The science fiction edge
Oh the places this film goes. I won’t spoil it, because it’s thought-provoking and fun. I will say that it’s totally Benson and Moorhead’s baby here, with some sly nods to Spring: it’s got many conversations, a lot of interpretation, and some curious points of faith and nature having bigger things in store for us.
#5 – Dat ending
The note this film ends upon makes me want to hug someone. If you’ve ever dreamed of a better life that didn’t happen no matter how hard you tried, or just wanted to fit in someplace, or just wanted a life less complicated and more meaningful, this ending will stick with you. You’ll feel the feelings.
The Endless if available for streaming on Netflix.