Malice between even family occurs when it comes to cults that some are a part of and others aren’t.
But what if it doesn’t matter who is right?
That’s a question posed by Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead in their film “The Endless.” (Spoilers follow.)
It’s no secret that cosmic forces loom large in the movie, and that is the factor that makes it so that the worldviews in the film become nothing more than mere squabbles over differences of opinion.
It is one of the ways in which “The Endless” asks more and deeper questions than “Alien,” “Star Wars,” “Terminator,” “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Avengers,” “Jurassic World” and other well-known science fiction films. (And perhaps obscure ones as well.) As it is also a horror film, “The Endless” may rise above most movies in that genre also.
The cult is called Camp Arcadia, a commune in southern California. Justin Smith (Benson) and his younger brother Aaron (Moorhead) visit left it, but return after Aaron wants to escape a life where bad food is persistent and a return to welfare awaits. Justin is vocal about still opposing the cult but agrees to go back briefly, wanting to use the visit as a vehicle to launch ahead in their lives.
The commune residents are welcoming and the unofficial leader, Hal (Tate Ellington), convinces the brothers to take part in group bonding functions. The activities, including a roped participant’s fight against an unknown force from the dark, are apparently stunts.
The audience learns, however, why that is not the case – and why there is a spooky feeling in Arcadia.
There is an “unseen antagonist,” as Benson described it, sending messages through photos and videos. So, the cult members’ worshipping of the sky turns out to not be absurd (after all, they keep dying in being fragmented into tiny pieces).
The film is permeated with Justin and Aaron’s surroundings indicating anomalies that are unfathomable. The brothers come to discover that Arcadia is in a sort of bubble that’s trapped in a time loop. The “monster” is imprisoning folks, afflicting and shaping folks for fun.
They are part of a space-time fissure that must succumb to the demands of power that brings back the same timeline each decade. The fissure is paired with a group of additional time bubbles that operate in other loops whose lives, like a wilderness dweller’s, are mere seconds. (Another man has to commit suicide every handful of minutes to avoid a more-terrible destiny.)
Another loop, lasting seven days, holds a Chris and Mike. Justin and Aaron keep finding them in the same crack den. Chris and Mike continue to experience the same week time and time again and are figuring out to escape. In that process, the viewers are asked about why the characters’ stance on the cult may not matter.
If audience members have found themselves taking their own such positions, questions about the relevance of it may enter their own minds as well.