The Divide (2011)
Director: Xavier Gens
The world ends (yeah we finally did it, nuke party baby) and a group of good and mostly "bad" people find shelter in a bunker-ish basement owned by building landlord Mickey (The Biehn). There's radiation outside, food supplies are going low and people start getting bored and losing their beans. You do the math. It gets ugly!
I really dig Xavier Gens. Be it his vice-grip debut FRONTIER (S) or his tug of war with the Studio HITMAN; the dude likes his violence extreme, is not afraid to go to them REALLY DARK places and also has a talent for engaging visuals. And being that I am the style whore that I am; I'll always gravitate towards his movies. So when I got to the chance to finally see THE DIVIDE aka Gens back to his indie roots (after being butt-plugged on Hitman); I was as happy as Leatherface in a tub of blood. Did it live up to my expectations? Damn straight!
THE DIVIDE started with a KABOOM, literally, conveyed via arresting imagery and wild camera movements (loved the steady cam work). It then locked me up into a room with half good peeps and half assholes and went on to gradually peel off the layers of civility to embrace nihilism and bring some of the main characters back to the caveman era. Now the flick can be perceived as some kind of social statement; that with desperation and without the confines of a “civilized” environment, human beings are “animals”, driven by primal instincts, with little to no conscience. Violence becomes a means to an end and sex a way to keep busy. Here the a-holes became psychos and the good people either fold and get used and abused or became “survivors”. Although it was all there, to be honest I wasn't thinking that far AS I was watching it, it's only now as I look back that I see it. THE DIVIDE didn't give me much time to think cause it was too busy pummeling me to a pulp throughout!
This was quite the visceral experience for me, one that simulated my senses and moved me. If it wasn't the bleak setting or the intense camera work knocking me out of my seat, it was the unrepentant moments of violence/depravity, the film's knack of getting darker as it clocked forward or the little surprises chocking me stupid. Big props to whomever cast this thing, cause the actors here were beyond excellent! Laura German expressed so much without saying much, Michael Biehn was compelling as the dude you had trouble figuring out (Good guy, bad guy, in the middle?), Rosanna Arquette gave a bold and gripping show (she's still a hottie too) while Milo Ventimiglia and Michael Eklund were simply MESMERIZING as the two dudes who slipped and slipped and...”nough said”. Tag to that a very powerful piano inclined score by Jean-Pierre Taieb (man I gotta own that one, this dude is now on my to watch list), striking imagery so strong (that slow motion bit near the end...wow) that I actually yelled out “Now this is filmmaking!” and an overall feel that echoed movies from the 70's and you get a lean, mean and nasty little masterpiece.
Any peeves? Not much. I thought that the evolution of the madness in terms of certain characters was a little too sudden. I would have liked to have seen more leading up to it. I also wanted to slap the character of Sam so hard, his grandma would feel it. I guess a big congrats to Iván González is in order, for playing a spineless bitch so well that is. Not a negative, just an observation. Finally, The Biehn disappeared for a little too long for my liking and one subplot that took us out of the shelter, didn't get a resolution... kind of nagged at me as I was mucho interested in it. Hope they give us some answers in the sequel... if there is one. I WANT TO KNOW! All in all, just goes to show how working outside the Studio system usually means BETTER MOVIES. The Divide was a solid return to form for Gens. It was intense, unsettling yet hypnotic. Yup, I was almost in a trance like state while watching it. Lock yourself up in this hole and enjoy HELL!
We get cut off fingers and moments of high brutality that I won't spoil here. You will see red, have no fear.
T & A
We get some nudity, but nothing arousing here.
The Divide so hit the spot! Not an easy watch but a fulfilling one none the less. Nihilistic, with an endearing F.U. attitude, un-apologetic violence, a stand out cast who gave it their all, kinetic visuals, an excellent score and a boldness to go to them somber places, bend them over and nail them dry. My kind of movie! Granted the evolution of some of the characters madness was a tad rushed, Biehn vanished at some point and a tantalizing subplot had me by the balls but never gave me a cap-off... but on the whole, this was a taunt genre uppercut that hurt like a motherf*cker! Thank you Mr. Gens! Hell is other people indeed!
The script was written by Karl Mueller and Eron Sheean.
The film was shot in the Millennium Centre and the Manitoba Production Center in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
An unrated/director's cut of the flick will be released in January 2012.