The Divide (2011)

DECEMBER 12, 2011


I'd like to think that Xavier Gens just has poor taste in scripts, but maybe he's just not the great filmmaker we were hoping. Hitman isn't fair to judge because of all the FOX mangling, but it's worth noting that they did the same thing to Kassovitz on Babylon AD and that was still at least pretty enjoyable. Frontiere(s) was well shot, but the script (his own) was painfully generic, running through sequences and situations lifted from every Texas Chainsaw/Wrong Turn ripoff you've ever seen. And now he's back with The Divide, which starts promisingly but just gets worse as it goes, becoming laughable when it's supposed to be at its most intense.

As I've said before, I'd rather a movie just suck throughout rather than piss away initial promise. Karl Mueller and Eron Sheean's script wastes no time in getting going - the first shot is of our heroine (the always welcome Lauren German) watching New York explode/disintegrate from her apartment window, courtesy of a few nukes (their origin is never explained, but it doesn't matter). Her and some other faces you might recognize in between edits make their way down to the basement, where the landlord (Michael Biehn) has created a makeshift shelter, except he wasn't planning on sharing it.

Our group is pretty typical - the heroine, a kid, some alpha males, a cool-headed black guy... nothing much interesting there. One of the movie's first signs of trouble is the fact that they seemingly skip over most of the "getting to know you" stuff - it's a while into the movie before you get anyone's name, and how they relate to each other is also pretty vague. I still am unsure if the Michael Eklund and Milo Ventimiglia characters were lovers prior to the attack, and it's not until nearly the end of the film that we learn about German's engagement to her boyfriend.

Still, the early stuff works - Biehn explains what they have and what they DON'T have, folks offer theories... standard "bunker movie" stuff, but filtered through an admirably eclectic cast and Gens' creative shooting, which keeps things interesting on a visual level despite the fact that the whole movie takes place in a basement with 3-4 rooms. There's a great bit when we think we're looking down a corridor at our heroes, only to discover it's a mirror and they're actually in a fairly small area - stuff like that makes up for the fact that the story is next to worthless, at least for a while.

Because you see, not even the best DP and director team in the world could make something good out of this particular script (assuming that the script wasn't compromised much for budgetary reasons - it couldn't have been a very expensive production, and I assume a lot of that went to the actors). Characters constantly change motivation; Ventimiglia is the guy that goes out to try to rescue someone, then he goes crazy, then he actually displays some sense with regards to the food... it's just too inconsistent. Rosanna Arquette's character in particular doesn't "work" - why is she suddenly uncaring about her daughter's circumstances?

Passage of time is also a trouble spot; we are told at one point that a combination lock was changed "two weeks ago", but there is nothing to indicate if said change was made instantly, or if there was a month or so in between the lock's first appearance in the movie and it being changed. Hell, I wasn't even aware that two weeks had gone by since the movie started! The male characters keep up with their shaving, so there's no real help there - there's not even a guy making notches on a wall, which is sort of a standard "look how much time has passed" scene in these sort of movies. And it's PARTICULARLY problematic here, since the core concept is that when people feel threatened they'll react with extreme measure regardless of the circumstances (and we get a few 9-11 references to hammer the point home), but without any understanding of how long they've been trapped together, it's unknown whether the characters were being rash or understandably crazed. If it was only two weeks, sure, they're just assholes - but if it was six months, I can see going a little stir crazy.

Ultimately I just started thinking of a great Onion article, where the survivors of a group trapped in an elevator wonder if they resorted to cannibalism too early (we ultimately learn they were in there less than an hour). Because if this WAS only a couple days, then the movie is potentially the most disastrous of the year (or a very subtle attempt at comedy). And if it WAS supposed to be months, then the missing info just adds to the film's overall problem, in that it takes a potentially great idea and largely mucks it up courtesy of what feels like a first draft script filled with far too many issues left maddeningly vague.

What say you?

P.S. Even if it's largely ripped off from John Murphy's 28 Days/Sunshine cues, the score is quite good - I'd never watch the movie again, but I'd love to have the soundtrack. Make it happen, Anchor Bay!


  1. There are several points you missed. allow me to help you:

    1. You forgot to mention how awesome I am, and how I got to see this piece of garbage with you.

    2. Another unclear plot point: I was under the assumption, throughout the ENTIRE movie, that Lauren German's character was pregnant. Because at the beginning of the movie, her fiance- that- wears- a wedding- ring (?)says something about their actions making them better parents. They never follow that up, and it still bugs me.

    3. Apricots are apparently only meant to be enjoyed by gay men.

    This movie is an unoriginal piece of garbage that once again shows that instead of being clever, trapped humans will resort to wearing bras and raping people to death. STUPID. What a crappy birthday present!

  2. i had to LOL at "a cool-headed black guy"


  3. Wait, LOL why? It's not racist, is it? I was told recently that it's OK to say "black" instead of "African-American" so I thought I'd try it out - I felt uncomfortable!

  4. The acting was pretty damn good. I really don't understand why some of you people are giving this 1 star when this was an entertaining, a little disturbing at times but under the circumstances i think most of us would end up going through similar horrors if we were holed up in a basement after being nucleared bombed to hell and stuck with a bunch of strangers with little water n food. At the end of the day we're all animals and once our everyday comforts are taken away from us, it's all about survival of the fittest. Most of the time there's no morality left when it comes to surviving.

  5. I was thoroughly aggrieved that this movie gave no room to even speculate some of the greater questions.
    Like what were they doing with the kids?! They weren't dead. They shaved their heads and had them in those chambers with their eyes taped shut and with breathing tubes of some sort.
    And before the 'level headed black guy' (who I really didn't think was THAT level headed) saved 'Eva' (whose character I thoroughly despised by the way), one of the guys in the hazmath suits said "We've got another 2-8 baker" (I love subtitles). So I thought, 'Ok, so she's pregnant and he just picked up on that. Maybe another heart beat?' I thought, 'There's something important with kids. It's probably why they took the little girl. Something with immunity maybe?'
    If anybody has got *any* theories, I think I'd prefer it than the drowning I feel after having seen this movie. 2 hours I shan't get back and I probably won't sleep very well tonight either.
    Also, I checked back and the guys in the Hazmat suits are from the "Center for Containment and Preservation".
    So maybe they were just testing the lab rats after the 'accident' or whatever caused the nuclear bomb (if that's even what it was) to go off...
    I'm over it.
    I'm just gonna chalk this one up to being a piece of crap movie.

  6. From what I have seen of this 'movie' - I fast forwarded most of it b/c I cannot bear that much dense crap - there is only one good thing: They all die at the end. I don't know what is wrong with Xavier (Director) but someone must have hurt him a lot in his childhood. Maybe the movie is trying to tell that people are shit and annoying and don't deserve any better. - Anyone, please if you value your time, spend 2 hours banging your head against the wall instead - it's more fun and creative, and hurts less.


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