CATEGORIES Horror, Theatrical Reviews, Cinematical Indie, Philadelphia Film Festival, Reviews, Cinematical
I first caught Maurice Deveraux's End of the Line at the "screener bank" of the 2006 Toronto Film Festival. Here was a horror flick that was not playing as part of TIFF's "Midnight" slate -- because it was a Canadian production and the festival likes to keep the native flicks as part of their own category. And it's kind of a shame, too, because if End of the Line had had the "Midnight Selection" cachet behind it, the flick might have gained a bit more well-deserved attention. (Counter-point: The rather sloppy anthology flick Trapped Ashes DID play as part of the "Midnight" line-up, and it's also here at the Philadelphia Film Festival -- but more on that movie later in the week.)
A perfectly entertaining, surprisingly vicious and (get this) somewhat unique spin on apocalyptic horror, End of the Line isn't likely to earn itself a big groundswell of praise, or even a minor slice of cult status, but it is a pretty nifty little terror tale all the same. It's about a ultra-religious wacko cult that decides tonight is the final night for humanity, and so all at the same time, all over the city, the cult kooks break out their daggers and begin stabbing people all over the place. "All over the place" also includes one particularly chaotic subway train, which is where most of End of the Line takes place. (Hence the title "End of the Line," which is a connection I just made four minutes ago.)
So it's kind of a zombie movie, a harsh swipe at overzealous religioneers, a full-bore piece of "survival horror," and a subterranean escape flick at the same time. Once the movie starts moving it rarely slows down, and those rest stops are frequently interrupted by harsh and hectic bouts of violent insanity. If you're looking for pure "body count," then End of the Line should certainly tickle your fancy -- but if you'd like a little Twlight Zone-style "what if the end of the world looked like this?" storytelling as a side dish to your mounds of mayhem, then you'll find the movie quite a bit meatier than what normally passes for horror these days. I'm not saying EOTL is a revolutionary piece of genre filmmaking, but I do appreciate it when a "new slant" is wedged in with a comfortably conventional set-up.
Our heroine is a tough young nurse called Karen (Ilona Elkin), but beyond that gal I'd recommend that you don't get too attached to the other characters. One of the more entertaining aspects of End of the Line is that it actually packs a few nasty surprises up its scummy sleeve. I know it's an old "misdirection" gimmick to slay a few "initially important" characters, but Deveraux is just clever enough to keep you guessing about who's gonna "get it" next ... and how. The meatiest moments of the flick might remind you of a half-dozen decent zombie movies -- only these aren't zombies; they're the insanely devout cult crazies. And that's just plain fun.
Deveraux, who also penned the screenplay, keeps the parallels to "real-life religion" to a minimum (thankfully), although you could probably find a few satirical moments without looking too hard. The generally "no name" cast acquits itself admirably well, the pacing winds down on only a few brief occasions, the violence is gritty and unsettling, the concept is just fresh enough to digest, and the gorehounds will have a ball with a few isolated scenes of mega-splatter. (Plus I really liked the ending, but we won't get into it.) Overall a tight-fisted and hard-hearted little "under the radar" horror flick that I quite enjoyed, End of the Line might not see U.S. distribution for a little while, but definitely consider the film entirely worthy of Netflix queue consideration when it becomes available -- eventually.