As someone who spends over 10 hours a week on BART, San Francisco’s subway system, traveling underground (and even underwater), End of the Line was really able to get under my skin. Trains alone can be great settings for Horror movies as inescapable, claustrophobia-inducing deathtraps, but underground subways have a more intense brand of sinister all their own. Recent offerings like Stag Night and Midnight Meat Train present subway tunnels as a modern-day Labyrinth with all manner of Minotaur lurking in the shadows; this taps our primal fears of blindness, disorientation, and even being buried alive.
End of the Line, however, is more than just a Horror movie that takes place underground. The subway and tunnels, in fact, aren’t even the original source of the evil presented; rather it’s an aboveground terror that sinks beneath the surface. And while the DVD cover art gives away the presence of creatures, End of the Line is more of a horrifying testament to the power of suggestion and mob mentality.
End of the Line is a Canadian Horror movie written, directed, and produced by Maurice Devereaux. Read my review after the jump.
Official Synopsis: In this unsettling and creepy thriller, Karen (Ilona Elkin), a young nurse who works in a psychiatric ward, boards the last subway train of the night only to have it stop suddenly in the middle of the tunnel. As those around her are brutally murdered, Karen and a handful of survivors must face supernatural forces, homicidal religious cult members, as well as their own fears and suspicions of Armageddon, in order to survive.
End of the Line kicks off like gangbusters with a seriously disturbing opening scene that sets viewer on red-alert. From this disorienting nightmare, we accompany Karen to work where she’s overwhelmed by an influx of insanity, perhaps inspired by a full moon or a solar eclipse. She takes some time to mourn a past patient who recently committed suicide by jumping in front of a subway train. Elements of her nightmare are already beginning to invade her reality as she heads home after her shift.
The fact that terror plays out in subway tunnels is merely a coincidence; this is a “wrong place, wrong time” scenario. Karen and a nice looking fellow named Mike (Nicolas Wright) just happen to board a train that’s also carrying members of a Christian doomsday cult. One guy in particular (Neil, played by Neil Napier) is much nastier than the rest: A high ranking cult member and repressed 40-year-old-virgin who seems hellbent on getting laid ASAP, employing whatever violent means necessary.
The train stops abruptly, each cult member receives a simultaneous text message—and all hell breaks loose. Lead by creepy matriarch Betty (Joan McBride) the uniformed followers produce crucifix daggers and precede to slaughter all the normals, all the while chanting, “You must be saved!” Convinced the Apocalypse is nigh, they feel morally obliged to dispatch as many souls as possible. Obviously, this plays on our fear of cults, secret societies, and even organized religion in general. Let’s face it, fundamentalist wackos are scary. But do you know what would be even scarier? A group of nutty doomsday cultists who happen to be right this time. Could it be possible that the bad guys are actually good guys? It’s a possibility that must at least be considered.
The presence of Gollum-esque demons (excellent creature FX’s by the way—all practical without a shred of CGI) seems to confirm the above-ground Armageddon, but it’s not quite this simple. Without giving anything away, I will advise: If a seemingly insignificant detail is mentioned more than once, you should probably take notice.
The violence in End of the Line is intimate, up close and personal. I’m talking hammers to cheekbones and axes to skulls—not to mention a slew of face-to-face stabbings. Blood flows, but it’s not so overdone that we can laugh it off as whimsical splatter. Rather, it feels unglamorous and very realistic. This is what gives the film its legitimacy, despite the rather fantastic ideas of Armageddon and demon possession. The acting, pretty strong all around, is also integral to the suspense and heavy uneasiness End of the Line elicits.
End of the Line is rich in subtext. The idea of “good people doing bad things” echoes throughout history, most notably in Nazi Germany (a connection also implied by the uniforms the cult members wear). It’s an indictment of blind fundamentalism, of course, but also cautions against ardent rationalism. Finally, buried beneath the terror and the blood, there’s a love story—and an interesting one to boot. Imagine experiencing love at first sight, only to face annihilation a few short hours later. In this respect, it’s reminiscent of the nuclear war classic Miracle Mile.
With an ending that will have you rushing to replay the film’s crucial opening chapter, End of the Line is a rare film that stimulates our terror reflexes and our intellect. I was blown away.
4 out of 5 Skull Heads.
|Studio||Maurice Devereaux Productions|
|Starring||Ilona Elkin, Nicolas Wright, Robin Wilcock, Joan McBride|