What hasn’t been explored in the post-apocalyptic genre before? Ponder that before you jump into another film in that genre and you will realize how hard writers and directors have to work to just make something memorable. Luckily for The Divide, making a memorable experience is something they have achieved. The question is, will you want to remember your experience? That’s exactly what I thought over after leaving the basement of a bar where the screening too place last Friday in San Diego. Hit the jump for my full review.
We see a bomb go off through a window of an apartment building, and the infamous mushroom cloud tells us this isn’t going to end well. A handful of residents decide to flee in a group, and when they see a sturdy looking door closing off a sealed basement, they understand it may be their last chance for survival. What they didn’t expect was that their ability to survive with strangers in increasingly dire circumstances proves to be more difficult than it seems. The survivors not only have to fend against other people naturally looking out for themselves, but also the mysterious visitors that want inside. This study of group dynamics in a battle of life and death will leave you weary but might also make you sick of your fellow man.
The survivors are made up of Eva (Lauren German) and boyfriend Sam (Iván González), Josh (Milo Ventimiglia), his brother Adrien (Ashton Holmes), and good friend Bobby (Michael Eklund), mother Marilyn (Rosanna Arquette) and daughter Wendy (Abbey Thickson ), crusty old retiree Delvin (Courtney B. Vance), and the superintendent and unwelcome host to the eight other survivors, Mickey (Michael Biehn). As the group (I use that term loosely) seals themselves in, they quickly start to take inventory of what they have. Mickey is a survivalist and is well-stocked for impending doom scenarios. However, he is a bit cranky that these eight people barged in on his shelter and isn’t about to truly share. As one could expect, this creates tension almost immediately. However, all of that is brought to a screeching halt when unknown outsiders attempt to make their way in.
Things quickly go squirrely and before we know it, the survivors seal themselves in again. As one would expect, having a bunch of alpha males in a small, enclosed space doesn’t help matters and the grit and grime starts to become the showcase. Director Xavier Gens (Hitman) asks much of his actors, and they are certainly willing to go to dark places in order to serve the plot. Unfortunately, the plot ends up boiling down to two bullies taking over as the leaders of the survivors, using sex and violence to get their way. The group start losing their hair and their sanity in bunches as food runs low and water is scarce.
You have to brace yourselves for periods of droll. Had they explored the outsiders a bit more, the film would have kept my attention. As it stands, The Divide goes into dark territory where the only means of escape is through loads of fecal matter and that isn’t a metaphor for wading through the 110 minute run time. The film was made on a small budget (the repeating musical score is a clue), yet Gens manages to pull off some nice set-pieces despite the film almost entirely occurring within the confines of a large basement. The Divide is an experience, but it might not be one you want to endure.