Review: The Divide
PLOT: It is the end of the world as we know it as nuclear war has exploded around a group of strangers in a building. Several of them take shelter in the basement, afraid of what lies just beyond the door. But there is something just as deadly as each one of them begins to fall victim to their own fears, their claustrophobia and their dark and twisted sexual desires.
Its not the gore and the bloodshed that plants THE DIVIDE deep into your subconscious. It is the depraved depiction of humanity that hangs over a group of survivors after the onslaught of a nuclear holocaust. This includes a small group of people desperate to stay alive after the destruction, even if it means the sacrifice of others. This animalistic behavior certainly does exist. And director Xavier Gens builds on this darkness in an effort to chronicle such bleak survivalist mentality in this chilling tale.
Nuclear war has begun to rear its ugly head as the film begins. We witness the fire that engulfs the city reflected in the eyes of Eva (Lauren German). Like many others, she runs for some sort of sanctuary from the disaster. When she stops to help an old woman, she is whisked away by Sam (Iván González) leaving the elderly woman helplessly behind. There are explosions, cries and gasps as people scurry downstairs like rats. A few, including Eva and Sam, make their way into a large room deep down in the basement. Several others follow, but the door is slammed shut only seconds after Eva makes it through. It is there that a man named Mickey (Michael Biehn) rules as he decides that there is only room for a few. Clearly he would have been happy if he had been the only one to make it down alive.
The collection of strangers includes a mother and her daughter (Rosanna Arquette and Abbey Thickson), brothers Josh and Adrien (Milo Ventimiglia and Ashton Holmes) and a handful of others. Desperate, afraid, and unsure of their bleak future, each character evolves in its own unique way. Especially when a group of men dressed in large white hazmat suits begin to wreak havoc after the survivors are discovered. Yet this story is about the endurance of this small group of people with nothing left to lose. Dont expect this to be a pretty picture as some of these characters go through new levels of evil. It is especially difficult to watch the downward spiral of Arquettes character. Her fate is simply unsettling.
The end of the world sub-genre is obviously not new territory in cinema as post-apocalypse movies are far from a rarity. Yet this minimalistic telling is an absorbing one. Of course it is violent, disturbing and bloody, but what is more painful is watching these characters fall victim to fear and mistrust. One would hope that humanity would react better than this but it is only too clear that there is a semblance of reality in THE DIVIDE. This is exactly why the film works as well as it does. It is scary as hell simply examining what fear and mistrust can do.
One gripe I did have is that some of the story feels a bit disjointed and rushed, especially with the introduction to the men in the hazmat suits. While we certainly get a little bit too much explanation from the villain oftentimes in horror movies, we get nothing here. Where did they come from? And later on, where did they go? It also seems that a couple of the characters leapt too quickly into morbidity. There was no middle ground for a couple of them. This is a sometimes messy film and it throws everything it can at you, sometimes without reason or rhyme. But at least it does so with verve and passion.
Xavier Gens has created one hell of an intriguing horror thriller. It is unexpected, intense, and downright heartbreaking. It also happens to be one of the best horror entries Ive seen in awhile. All the actors give especially strong performances as they fall deeper and deeper into their own fate. Ventimiglia, Biehn and Courtney B. Vance are especially good, but it is Lauren German who keeps us caring. She gives a very real and very honest performance. It is her vulnerability and her watchful gaze that leads the audience through THE DIVIDE.
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