I done went and did it. Again. For the love of God. I opened my mouth again and some outlandish shit spilled out. I’m a crazy old wizard. When will I ever learn to keep my secrets to myself? And no, it wasn’t the old standby, THE ROAD is a zombie story, nope. In fact, Brad the superfan evoked it this week and I poked the bear back, a little. And we both got a chuckle before moving on.
Naw. Not THE ROAD. Something almost as controversial, though. Instead, Walt lured me in this time with one of his recent go-to’s. He found a social media post where someone asked about Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead’s 2017 film THE ENDLESS… and its sequel, the duo’s feature 2012 film debut, RESOLUTION. And he tagged me in it for my adoration fo the film.
THE ENDLESS became my favorite horror movie of all time on my first viewing. The story of two brothers who return to the UFO death cult they escaped from a decade earlier spoke to me. Its outside of the box approach to storytelling allured me. In anticipation, I watched it before seeing the first film. As a result, RESOLUTION didn’t drag me in during my viewing of the sequel. It’s probably because I didn’t know what was going on.
WAIT JUST A SECOND, THERE TOMMY BOY! HOLD ON TOM! HOLD IT RIGHT THERE! YOU KEEP CALLING RESOLUTION THE SEQUEL TO THE ENDLESS. IT HAS TO BE THE OTHER WAY AROUND. THE ENDLESS IS A SEQUEL TO RESOLUTION. RESOLUTION CAME OUT 5 YEARS EARLIER!
Ummm… no. Didn’t I make myself clear? RESOLUTION is a sequel to THE ENDLESS. Its release date only supports my fringe theory. You see, this tandem of films is much like THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT. The 1999 horror flick was an interactive experience, utilizing the internet unlike any film had before to create a buzz for the groundbreaking found footage film.
NO TOM! IT’S A PREQUEL! AND WHAT’S ALL THIS BLAIR WITCH TALK? I THOUGHT THIS WAS ABOUT THE ENDLESS AND RESOLUTION?
Oh, for fuck’s sake. No, Beavis, it’s not. Don’t make me get all Furman’s Dad on you in a semantics battle. DUMB…ass. If RESOLUTION were a prequel, it would have come out after THE ENDLESS. You have to let go of silly notions, like linear time, in order to fully grasp what is going on here.
Now, before I get ahead of myself, I need to know, dear reader – have you seen either film in question? I need to know and I need to know now. For your sanity, that is. First, I’m about to fall into heavy spoiler territory here, and then I’m following it with a massive dump of metaphysical cosmic horror. So not only will I spoil the movie for you, I’m fixing to turn your brain into Arkham Marshmallow Surprise.
TURN BACK LEST THEE BE SPOILED…
2012’s RESOLUTION is a brilliant Lovecraftian cosmic horror story. Only you don’t realize it watching it the first time. It seems out of place. Like it’s missing key details for you to be able to bond with its characters. On the surface, it appears to be a movie about two friends coming to grips with their own stories. And, to some extent, it is. Mike and Chris. The latter has a drug habit, the former’s marriage is on the rocks. Their paths intersect when one of them hits rock bottom and he enlists the aid of his friend through an email. It’s a story about relationships and how people grow apart over time. But RESOLUTION challenges you. Right up to its fiery conclusion, it makes you wonder what happens when your story becomes your reality? Shot on the cheap with a low budget, RESOLUTION is grainy and unsettling. It looks old- as if it were created using antiquated devices. And this an important clue in support of the theory.
The films share a common antagonist, an ever-present Cosmic Entity. This being, and the manner in which it communicates with those it torments, is the focal point of the theory. Through sometimes anachronistic instances of media- CD’s, or videos, and the like, the entity manipulates its chosen human pets. During the course of RESOLUTION, Mike and Chris are exposed to events yet to happen through these items, until they finally come face to face with the being and an ambiguous finale.
Let me again reiterate, the use of multi-media is prevalent in the narrative.
Anticipation for the follow-up film grew, especially after the release of the tandem’s second movie, SPRING, another masterpiece of cosmic horror, albeit on a more intimate level. When THE ENDLESS finally hit, no one knew what sort of impact it would have on the industry. Although not a box-office hit, the small film has gained critical acclaim and a strong cult following of fans, myself included, who find the film to be transcendent.
What Benson and Moorhead have quietly done over a trip of films is ushered in a new wave of cosmic horror films. ANNIHILATION, THE COLOUR OUT OF SPACE and UNDERWATER are the tip of the iceberg, with more to come on the horizon.
Expanding upon the true evil of the entity introduced in RESOLUTION, THE ENDLESS focuses on brothers Justin and Aaron Smith (played by the directors!) and their return to the UFO Suicide cult they escaped from a decade before.
HOLD ON TOM. ARE YOU MAKING THIS UP? HOW CAN YOU ESCAPE FROM A SUICIDE CULT AND RETURN… AREN’T THEY DEAD?
I know, really! But that’s the pitch from the movie. Turns out they’re not dead and they’re all the same age they were the last time the brothers saw them. Through communications with the Cult, via multimedia outlets such as snail-mailed audio and video cassettes, Aaron talks Justin into going back with him, just to talk.
Upon their return, the brothers soon learn of the entity and how it creates loops in time, killing its victims and bring them back, but allowing their consciousnesses, to continue. Think of it this way: Imagine if your life was a video game, and whenever the game’s owner (in this case, the cosmic entity) hits reset on the device, you start over. Yet -and this is the kicker- you maintain your experiences and knowledge. You remain young, yet your mind evolves. The entity watches the tragic stories of those it has damned over… and over…. and over… again… and again… and again…
It’s Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day, but on a much larger scale.
The entity communicates with them through multimedia hidden in strange places. The messages are cryptic and often enigmatic. Sometimes showing them things that have to come, alluding this isn’t the first time they played this part and told their story to the being.
During their visit, Aaron and Justin meet Mike and Chris, and Mike’s wife who, too, has been entrapped by the entity, as she searches in vain for her husband – but also, during Resolution, Mike and Chris meet Aaron and Justin, who come witnessing to them to join their UFO cult…
Only five years ago…
WHAT? I THOUGHT YOU SAID THEY LEFT THE CULT 10 YEARS AGO!
I did say that.
And this is why RESOLUTION is a sequel to THE ENDLESS, it’s how the creators winked and gave you an interactive experience within their narrative by releasing the second movie… first. In much the same manner as their cosmic being would fuck with us, they fucked with us in an interactive manner never done before.
Now you understand why THE ENDLESS is my favorite horror movie of all time. It did the deed by thinking outside the box, by going outside the confines of linear time and space.
And now you must ask yourself, what is my story? Are you locked in a loop, going through the motions for an ambivalent cosmic entity?
Are we all in this loop together?