JUNE 16, 2009
I remember last fall, folks were ticked off about the poster for Quarantine “spoiling” the movie. But it was only a spoiler if you had seen [Rec], because it was the exact same movie and thus you would know where it fit into the narrative (in this case, the last shot of the film). For the millions of folks who hadn’t seen [Rec], it could have been the film’s first scene for all they knew. But the playing field is level for End Of The Line, which makes the cover art (and synopsis) not only a major spoiler, but rather misleading as well.
Going by the synopsis (and again, the cover art), it seems as if the film’s protagonists have two things to worry about - crazy cult members and some demon/ghoul things, not to mention the fact that they’re all stuck in the subway. I was actually hoping that the film was going to be a From Dusk Til Dawn style scenario, where you have the good people vs the cult nuts for the first half, and then all of a sudden these monsters show up and the humans have to team up to defeat them, which would have been pretty cool. But no! The monster things don’t show up until the final scene of the film (well, one appears for a split second earlier, but since a lot of the characters are seeing things/having nightmares you won’t think much of it), and their appearance is sort of a twist.
Then again, they could very well be just another hallucination. Director Maurice Devereaux (who also wrote, produced, and edited) is one of those “I want the audience to draw their own conclusion” guys, which I often find annoying. It’s one thing to have part of a film left up to interpretation, but he makes this point so many times on the DVD that he starts to come off as Richard Kelly-esque. My interpretation is that the monsters are not real, but if so, I like the movie a lot less, because the idea that the cult was actually RIGHT is far more interesting (because otherwise it’s just more “people who believe in religion are nuts, period” bashing - something I’m not really down with).
But at least it’s an entertaining horror movie. The kills and attacks are surprisingly gory (the hero guy seems to lose enough blood for two people throughout the film), and the characters are largely likeable, despite some woozy acting. The pacing is a little awkward - our characters hole up in a room for what seems like the entire middle of the movie - but it gets going fairly quickly. In fact the structure is similar to the original Night of the Living Dead (which also had some 2nd act sluggishness), which is fine by me.
I also liked the setting. Sure, there have been a dozen other subway-set horror movies, but it actually feels like a real subway system for once (unlike Creep), without any ridiculous underground lairs and such. Tunnels, subway cars, control rooms... it actually reminded me of the subway level from the underrated game The Condemned: Criminal Origins, and that’s a good thing. If I can buy into the reality of the setting, it’s a lot easier for me to buy into the concept.
For no reason I just want to show you something that I noticed about the typography:
The DVD is surprisingly loaded with extras. A lot of these DTV indies have at most a lameass making of, but we get the full on deluxe edition here. There’s a 35 minute making of, a Q&A from FantasticFest (anyone want to put me up for the week so my broke ass could attend this festival? You’ll get mentioned in a review AND I’ll eat your cereal!), a deleted scene, and a strange piece about how people keep asking about the budget. Unless it’s a big Hollywood movie where you can laugh at how much they spent to make some giant piece of crap like Terminator Salvation (200+ million), I never understood why people give a shit about how much the movie cost to make. The TV ad for the film’s cult is also shown in full, and you can also listen to the entire score, which is a feature that is sadly all too rare. Finally, Devereaux and his DP (I think?) provide a commentary. As I mentioned earlier, Devereaux can get a little frustrating with his constant “You figure it out” mantra, but it’s a good track nonetheless; there isn’t a single gap as Devereaux talks about every single facet of the film’s production. Then again, after listening to that windbag on the Suspect Zero commentary a few days ago, the fact that he actually discusses the film at all is a welcome breath of fresh air.
According to Devereaux in the FantasticFest piece, this is his fourth film. I look forward to checking out the others, as he seems to be an interesting (and genre-enthusiastic) filmmaker. The script could have used a little work, and (again, assuming my interpretation is “correct”) the “all purpose” religious bashing is a bit tired, but when my biggest problem with the film is a misleading cover/synopsis that was probably out of the filmmaker’s control (indeed, the Canadian poster does not have the monsters on the cover), I consider the film a success.
What say you?