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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Aaron Moorhead, Justin Benson
Cast:
Aaron Moorhead, Justin Benson, Callie Hernandez
Writing Credits:
Justin Benson

Synopsis:
Two brothers return to the cult they fled from years ago to discover that the group's beliefs may be more sane than they once thought.

MPAA:
Rated NR

DISC DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Dolby 2.0
Subtitles:
English
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 89 min.
Price: $29.98
Release Date: 12/5/2017

Bonus:
• “Making Of” Documentary
• Previews and Trailers
• DVD Copy


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RELATED REVIEWS


The Endless [Blu-Ray] (2018)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 7, 2018)

A science-fiction-based drama, 2018’s The Endless introduces us to brothers Justin (Justin Benson) and Aaron (Aaron Moorhead). Years earlier, they belonged to a cult, but they managed to escape from it.

This continues to haunt them – especially Aaron - so they attempt to confront their prior experiences with a return to the camp where they used to live. As they process their past, they start to learn that there may be more to the cult’s beliefs than they initially thought.

Unless the filmmaker(s) in question already enjoys success as an actor, I find myself skeptical when I see a movie in which the director(s) play the lead role(s). When they also take on characters with their own names, I feel even more cynical.

Those two strikes greeted Endless and left me doubtful that it’d offer a solid cinematic experience. Whatever flaws I find here, though, I can’t pin them on the acting skills of Benson and Moorhead, as they acquit themselves pretty well in that regard.

No, they don’t offer great performances, but they do fine and help ground the film, especially because they show a good interpersonal connection. While they don’t look much like brothers, their chemistry together allows for us to buy that relationship.

The rest of the cast fares nicely as well. Again, I can’t pin down any specific examples of terrific work, but the entire group fleshes out their roles in a positive manner.

Benson’s script manages to take us down a winding path that usually remains intriguing. Despite all the seeming normalcy at the camp, we know something weird will eventually materialize, and the screenplay allows the twists to emerge in a fairly natural manner.

Endless also manages a reasonable amount of humor to offset the semi-oppressive creepy vibe. While most of the movie opts for a generally eerie feel, it spikes the tale with some dark humor just often enough to leaven the tension a bit.

So far, so good – where does Endless falter? Primarily in regard to its running time, as the movie can feel like something of an endurance test at times.

I don’t want to overstate this issue, as I don’t think Endless goes so long that it becomes a chore to watch. Nonetheless, I think it leans tedious at 111 minutes and may’ve been more effective if it wound up closer to 100 minutes or so.

Still, the occasionally sluggish pacing aside, The Endless delivers a largely compelling tale. It overcomes budgetary constraints to offer a clever, involving effort.


The Disc Grades: Picture C+/ Audio B-/ Bonus B

The Endless appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became an inconsistent presentation.

Sharpness became the most problematic area, as significant bouts of softness occurred. While much of the movie seemed well-defined, odd exceptions popped up as well. These might be intentional, but I couldn’t figure out a logical reason for the strange soft spots.

No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and edge haloes remained absent. The movie also lacked any print flaws.

Colors tended toward a mix of ambers and pale blues. These didn’t stand out as dynamic but they seemed adequate given the visual design.

Blacks were acceptable – albeit a little inky – and shadows worked fairly well. Low-light shots could be somewhat dense, but they seemed fine for the most part. Though much of the movie looked good, enough issues occurred to make it a “C+”.

Stronger material came via the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, as it suited the material pretty well. For the most part, the soundscape focused on score and general moody ambience, and it used those components well.

The occasional louder scene added depth and involvement, but those sequences didn’t pop up frequently. At times the track felt a little more “speaker-specific” than I’d like, so it didn’t always blend terribly well.

Audio quality held up well, with speech that appeared concise and distinctive. Music came across nicely, as the score felt full and rich.

Effects also succeeded. Those elements displayed positive accuracy as well as solid low-end response. For a low-budget film, the soundtrack seemed satisfactory.

The disc comes with an array of extras, and these launch with an audio commentary from actor/writer/director Justin Benson, actor/director Aaron Moorhead, and producer/actor David Lawson. All three sit together for a running, screen-specific discussion of the project’s roots and development, story/characters, cast and performances, effects, camerawork and visual design, music, editing, influences, budgetary issues and related domains.

Chatty and engaging, this becomes a pretty good commentary. The three men interact in a casual, involving way and throw out a lot of useful details about the production.

A Making Of program runs 31 minutes, 38 seconds and includes info from Moorhead, Benson, production designer Ariel Vida, art director Kati Simon, graphic designer Kim Berens, editor Michael Felker, composer Jimmy Lavalle, and re-recording mixer Yahel Dooley.

The show examines the film’s origins and connections to Moorhead and Benson’s other work, development areas, story/characters, cast and performances, sets, locations and design choices, editing, score and audio, and the film’s release.

Because Moorhead and Benson dominate the show, we inevitably find repetition from the documentary. Still, the other perspectives add useful material, and the footage from the set helps make this a good program.

Two pieces appear under Behind the Scenes: “Michael Felker Editor” (2:58) and “Outtakes” (10:04). The former simply offers odd, non sequitor uses of Felker’s name on the set. It’s a weird little compilation without much obvious purpose.

“Outtakes” largely presents a basic blooper reel, but it includes some alternate lines as well. While those add a bit of interest to the material, much of it seems forgettable.

Seven Deleted Scenes fill a total of seven minutes, 32 seconds. These tend to offer minor character beats along with a smidgen of story exposition. They’re painless but not especially important.

VFX Breakdown goes for two minutes, 44 seconds, as it shows footage before/after the effects. I’d like a little commentary along with it, but it still shows the work in a useful manner.

Under Riduculous Extras, a few components appear. “Casting” splits into two segments: “Smiling Dave” (2:59) and “Aaron” (1:32). Though touted as audition reels, they’re meant as jokes, and they’re mildly entertaining.

With “Vinny’s Story” (9:02), we get behind the scenes video footage shot by actor Vinny Curran. He offers train-of-thought, profane ramblings about his experiences that aren’t as funny as those involved might believe.

During “Breaking the News” (3:05), Benson and Moorhead prank call Curran to tell him co-star Pete Cilella got cut from the film. As noted by on-screen text, this wouldn’t be possible, so it’s kind of fun to watch Curran fall for the gag.

Finally, “UFO Cult Comedy” (3:26), Moorhead and Benson introduce a scene from an abandoned, improvisational version of Endless. It’s interesting to see.

The disc opens with ads for Triple Threat, The Mimic, and Kickboxer Retaliation. We also get two trailers for The Endless as well as a “Tribeca Promo”.

A quirky drama with a supernatural bent, The Endless occasionally drags but it usually remains involving. It comes with enough cleverness and depth to keep the viewer with it. The Blu-ray offers erratic visuals plus generally good audio as well as an interesting array of supplements. The Endless delivers a winning experience.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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