In UK cinemas and Digital HD from 29 June 2018
Available on DVD and Blu-ray from 2 July 2018

Filmmaking duo Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead (Resolution, Spring) become their own lead actors in latest mystery horror The Endless. The indie mind-bender centres on brothers (easily-named Justin and Aaron) who, oddly, decide to return for a visit to the cult they left years ago after receiving a videotape invitation.  Of course, after a slow build, events go awry and the audience is plunged into a series of creepy and head-scratching happenings.

What The Endless does best is create the uncomfortable atmosphere of a nightmare, leaving the audience with an itchy sense of dread after the credits have rolled. There are also some effective jump-scares and eerily stretched-out takes that manipulate our fear of what we can’t see. However, like a nightmare, the plot is difficult to digest in any logical way. The desert-dwelling cult involves a malevolent and omnipotent being that creates pockets where time repeats itself indefinitely – and that can somehow film people and take Polaroids. After figuring this out, though, the audience is on its own.

It’s reminiscent of TV hit Lost: intriguing and unnerving, but with too many isolated jigsaw pieces that don’t really ever cohesively fit together. One of the DVD’s Making Of featurettes reveals that Benson and Moorhead initially made a list of their filmic skills and ideas for what they wanted to do in their next film.  The Endless was then constructed from this wish list – and it shows. There’s too much being thrown into the mix without enough neat ties gathering it together.

Perhaps this is OK. Some viewers might appreciate that there are no clear answers.  Lost was still a ratings winner (with ongoing rumours about spin-offs eight years after its conclusion). And keeping the ‘monster’ hidden works well: never really seeing what’s out there in the darkness of the desert landscape only escalates our sense of trepidation. However, when, halfway through the film, there is already temptation to give up on even trying to figure out what’s happening behind the narrative, the rest of the movie really can feel ‘endless’.