The films of Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead are somewhat unique in the field of low-budget genre cinema in their prioritising of ideas over the more visceral excesses which while often-times satisfying, also feel like pandering or maybe even spoon-feeding. Their films have stood out due to a bizarre sense of low-key apocalypse, of things not being right all that far below the surface and the use of character and emotion to explore them instead of gore and extreme imagery.
The Endless continues this in ambitious fashion although it is maybe not quite the smack in the mouth that Spring was, though the Before Sunrise with a Monster narrative is so unique that beating it would be a challenge. The set-up, that of two brothers reuniting with the "UFO Death Cult" they fled years before, and finding that the people literally don't seem to have changed is a fascinating one but it is the relationship between the two which really pulls you through. Benson and Moorhead in the lead roles acquit themselves nicely with the innocent/wordly dichotomy between them well played and the tension inherent in such a relationship never once slipping. Tate Ellington also deserves mention as Hal, the lead member of the cult, who plays a fantastic line in "Is he a bad guy or not?" and seems to relish in the soft-spoken, somewhat too-nice persona.
The actual events of the film however are also very much worth noting. The concept at play here is absolutely chilling once everything is revealed in the third act. Horror is a rather subjective thing but the existential dread which infects the story is something which you may not want to think on too much. The way it directly feeds off the directing pair's earlier work also manages to work, it's a conceit which could have proven potentially film breaking but the referencing is vague enough that even if you came to this film fresh, you'd feel it were a pretty natural part of this story, fitting in with the random dark humour of much of the rest of the runtime.
After Resolution and Spring, Benson & Moorhead had shown themselves to be two very smart, but not wearing it like a badge of honour, filmmakers who have some great potential. The Endless weirdly enough feels like a goodbye, a film which has fully explored what they can say with the budget they have to say it, I very much look forward to seeing what they can do with a larger canvas.