While an opening Lovecraft quote hints at what’s to come in Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead’s horror movie The Endless, the picture ultimately exists in its own loop. Escapees from a UFO death cult called Camp Arcadia, brothers Justin (co-director Benson) and Aaron (other co-director Moorhead) return a decade later upon receiving a mysterious videotape from one of the members, Anna (Callie Hernandez). They find life on the compound is as normal as life among a UFO death cult can possibly be, until Justin and Aaron begin noticing that normality itself isn’t quite what it used to be.
As low-budget indie horror films go, The Endless’s main flaw is in its occasionally over-broish characterizations; a subplot about Camp Arcadia’s homebrew sales being hurt by Justin having alleged the cult castrated themselves Heaven’s Gate-style wastes valuable screen time. But beyond that, The Endless is a minor triumph of imagination over budget, focusing on an atmosphere of dread and mystery while using simple optical tricks to great effect. The Endless intersects with Benson and Moorhead’s 2012 Resolution, shedding some light on the fate of that film’s characters and tying it to the new movie’s mysteries. But unlike more mainstream shared-universe films, The Endless functions as a self-contained and very entertaining little puzzlebox on its own merits.
Opens Friday the Alamo Drafthouse New Mission.