Thursday, October 08, 2020

The Endless (2017)

Aaron and Justin have a pretty crappy life.  They lost their parents at an early age and were effectively raised by a cult.  Justin got them out of there, but they now make a living cleaning other people’s houses.  It’s not glamorous, but Justin feels that it’s a better life.  Aaron would disagree.  The group fed and housed the brothers and they didn’t have a care in the world.  (It’s not clear if they had other family.  To be honest, I’m not sure why an aunt or uncle didn’t take them in.)

One day, they receive a videocassette in the mail from Camp Arcadia.  Justin wants nothing to do with them.  It’s better to work at a horrible, demeaning job than to go back there.  Aaron convinces Justin to go back, if just for one day.  Justin relents and they’re off.

I would have thought the reunion would have been awkward, but those at the camp are welcoming.  There are a few new faces, but most of the old group is still there.  The freaky thing is that they all look like they haven’t aged.  Impossible.  Right? 

We find out that Justin was a little hard on the group.  They’re not really as cultish as he made them out to be.  They’re a lot closer to what Justin remembered.  They even make beer to sell, but have had a hard time of it since Justin basically slandered them.

The brothers end up staying longer than 24 hours.  The longer they stay, the more it appears that Justin may have had good intentions, after all.  There are no UFOs or mass suicides, but something strange is definitely up.

The movie doesn’t go full-on paranormal, which is good.  But there is a paranormal tilt to it.  There’s a presence that no one can see, but does have a definite influence over the camp.  Once you’ve accepted that presence, it would seem you’re stuck there for eternity.  This puts pressure on the brothers to get back out.

There are a few themes that run through the movie, like nostalgia and how we remember the past.  There’s also a matter of choice.  Justin and Aaron could have an easy life, but at what cost?  The longer they stay, the harder it becomes to leave that life.  You eventually reach a point of no return.

Aaron might very well have been happy there, but it would have meant staying there forever.  It was also a lifestyle that Justin couldn’t accept.  A life of struggle would have been better if it afforded him a freedom he couldn’t fully take advantage of.  $20 for a camcorder was a huge expense for them.  Travelling the world probably wasn’t an option, but at least they can afford a few days off.

As with most viewpoints, neither brother is really totally correct.  Each brother has some good points, but there’s also a lot that they’re missing.  Life is usually a series of doing the best we can, even if it’s for the wrong reasons.  This is where the story becomes relatable.  Justin and Aaron come to understand the other’s viewpoint a little better.  They also realize that there probably wasn’t any other way it could have played out.  They are exactly where they need to be. 

IMDb page

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