Cast:Lauren German, Michael Biehn, Milo Ventimiglia, Courtney B. Vance, Ashton Holmes, Rosanna Arquette, Iván González, Michael Eklund, Abbey Thickson, Jennifer Blanc
Whenever I hear people complain about how there’s no more legit quality genre flicks being made these days, I have to inform them that they’re just not looking in the right place. They may not necessarily be playing in your local multiplex amongst the latest remake or over-budgeted 3D extravaganza, but they do exist. Instead they’re sneaking around your downtown art house theater, being forgotten about within a line up of new on demand titles, or simply being overlooked amongst a slew Netflix Instant Watch schlock. Once in a while, you’ll get lucky and unexpectedly stumble on something you never heard anything about, then instantly fall in love with it. And that’s what happened with The Divide and myself.
Going into this movie the only thing I knew was that it was some kind of post apocalyptic, thriller from the director of Frontier(s) starring Michael Biehn. Sold. Kicking into gear the moment the movie starts, we’re introduced to a slew of survivors of a nuclear blast, held up in a fallout shelter underneath their apartment building. From minute one, Michael Biehn as Mickey takes control of things, appointing himself as the leader. Though the first 20 minutes or so play out like some kind of epic scifi action film, it quickly becomes much more intimate as it settles into a Lord of the Flies-esque survival story. Tensions mount, friends are betrayed, cabin fever takes it’s toll, and a fight for survival ensues.
A movie with a small group of characters in a confined space can easily fail within the hands of the wrong director. Luckily Xavier Gens keeps the camera constantly moving around the claustrophobic space, giving a dynamic look to even the most simple dialog scenes. And, let’s get serious here; this is the man behind Frontier(s) and Hitman, so he doesn’t shy away from the bloodshed. And while you can say the movie has a science “fiction” element to it, Gens keeps everything as down to earth and realistic as possible, choosing to focus more on the characters’ descents rather than the reasoning behind the apocalypse (which simply gets touched on).
Filled to the brim with familiar genre faces, there is not one flawed performance amongst the ensemble cast. Biehn was a badass mofo in the 80s is a badass mofo now. Lauren German finally gets a nice showcase for her talents after a long career of smaller, supporting roles, and Milo Ventimiglia (or “Hey, Jess from Gilmore Girls!” as my girlfriend exclaimed…whatever that Hell that means) owned the movie.
Taking place during the aftermath of a nuclear attack, some of the characters suffer from varying degrees of radiation poisoning, resulting in the opportunity for some really subtle, yet great make-up effects work. Each character has a progression through the film’s running time and the attention that went into the different stages of the devolution was truly impressive. By the end, two of the characters are straight up Descent-like terrifying.
There’s a few pacing issues here and there that left the feeling that cutting about ten minutes off of the final run time wouldn’t have hurt the movie, but it wasn’t enough to detour the badassery that was The Divide. After my viewing, I checked out a slew of negative reviews online, and I just didn’t get it. Did they watch the same movie? It saddens me that movies like this never seem to find mainstream success, but at the same time, there’s something to be said about the excitement of “discovering” a hidden gem such as this one.
Maybe it’s because I knew nothing about the movie, and it played out differently than I was expecting, but I just loved The Divide. It’s tense, violent, borderline sick, and all around entertaining. With great talent behind and in front of the screen, do yourself a favor and seek out The Divide....which is currently playing at an aging fourplex theater not near you.
|Posted on February 6, 2012 - 4:31am | Johnny D|