We have all seen the news, about certain religious people who have suddenly exhibited violent behavior towards others and even towards themselves. Such news often give me the shivers when supposed decent people become driven to exhibit brutal behavior in what they believe is the way to their salvation. Writer/director Maurice Devereaux's "End of the Line" explores such behavior in a very efficient manner; all the while feeding our fears of the presence of evil. The film is a creepy, scary, thought-provoking look at what believers may say is eve of the end times. Just what you do when your religious leader gives you an order?
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Karen (Ilona Elkin) is a nurse in a hospital's psychiatric ward. One evening, Karen takes the subway train on her way home from work. Without warning, the train stops to a grinding halt and Karen with the rest of the other passengers become the trapped targets of an apocalyptic religious cult led by Reverend Hope (played by David McCallum) bent on killing them all in the name of their strange god. Karen and the other passengers fight back, but can their feeble resistance stand up to the demonic powers that have cast a shadow this evening? Things look very bleak and all hope is about to be extinguished as the entire world seemed to have been gripped by madness. Is this truly the end of the line for humanity?
Maurice Devereaux's very dark and bloody tale may have a very simple premise but he manages to call upon the screenplay's best assets to keep the viewer interested with an intense, taut and gripping script that is well thought out and executed. We see the passengers in the subway train; people from all walks of life on the way to retiring for the evening and this proves to be the film's minor characterization. Once Devereaux, manages to set things up, the direction goes into overdrive with a bloody, unrelenting experience that kept me enthralled for the film's entirety.
Now, don't' think that the film is just a simple bloodbath. The film addresses certain themes of blind faith and references certain themes from the Book of Revelation itself. The film's central focus are the followers of this religious cult who has been obviously misled, they use their blades fashioned from a cross to strike down any unbelievers so that they may know salvation. I said that the film references certain ideas from the Bible but I never said that this is a film based on Biblical apocalypse. Devereaux pitches an idea that a false prophet would rise first to pave the way for evil and I believe in this, since the devil would never come to greet you as himself but as a messiah. What is truly said when even children are driven to such extreme behavior. The cultists are also willing to kill others but they refuse to commit suicide. The screenplay calls upon an effective twist that involves this cult and the raising of hell's army. After all, what better soldiers can be than those so devout to a cause?
Amid all its darkness and chaos, the direction admirably remembers to show a sense of humanity to our protagonist and even to the some members of this cult. The cult members are shown as having a choice when it came to the execution of their "duty"--Sarah (Nina Fillis) and Frankie (John Vamvas) had their orders but they chose not to follow. They are prime examples in believing on what feels right to their heart and never in the teachings of their so-called religion. One of Rev. Hope's lieutenants is torn between his needs of the flesh and the need to make certain that he is ‘saved'. Two aspects of human trait/behavior is nicely fleshed out; choice and a need to be assured. Mike (Nicolas Wright) and Karen embody the openness to compassion, with the little time they shared, they got to know each other a lot. Sarah and her boyfriend somehow embody the idea that love can be shared between two people with differing beliefs, so long as their hearts are in the right place at the time. Sex is seen as a sin by the cultists, while some believe that it is the expressive of love.
The film is also a bloodbath and there are quite a good number of scenes that are very graphic. The brutality and violence in the film may not be too hardcore--stabs, hammer strikes, extreme realistic violence are practiced by both the cultists and our protagonists. The violence may be graphic but none so stomach-turning and over-the-top. They all have that realistic simple feel, when terrified people tangle with madmen. However, the film does have a scene that is very unsettling which occurs in the maintenance area when an unborn infant is ripped apart from his mother's womb. Blood and Gore is omnipresent in the proceedings, and director Devereaux cleverly utilizes old-school effects in the form of prosthetics and red ink. I do not like CGI in my horror movies and I commend the direction‘s sense in this case. Even the demonic entities who appear in the film are a product of a lot of muddy make up and simple prosthetics with glowing red eyes. One flaw that I can say about the film is the fact that the acting felt a little too uneven. Some of the acting by the cult members feel a little too fake and some scenes a little bit heavy-handed. Another is that the dialogue felt a little too contrived and obligatory at times. Not that it hampered the film too much, but it was enough to be noticed.
"End of the Line" is one very creepy and disquieting film. It portrays certain aspects of very real horror in the form of decent citizens driven to madness due to their own blind faith all the while using the occult and the supernatural as its driving force. It did somewhat remind me of "Prince of Darkness" but this film is much more. Maurice Devereaux knew exactly what he wanted to do with this film; the film managed to maintain its forward momentum that maintained its energy and outright creepiness--what also proves effective is the fact that he manages to put everything together with a large exclamation point that leads to the apocalypse.
When you feel a nudge on your shoulder to do something...do you follow because of what you know or what you believe? It's something to think about...
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