Homefront movie
7.25 out of 10
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire movie
8.75 out of 10
Disney's Frozen movie
10.0 out of 10
Delivery Man movie
6.75 out of 10
8.25 out of 10

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Divide

Social Disintegration

Rated: NR
Release Date: January 13, 2012
Runtime: 1 hr 50 min

Director: Xavier Gens
Writers: Karl Mueller, Eron Sheean
Cast: Michael Biehn, Milo Ventimiglia, Lauren German, Rosanna Arquette, Courtney B. Vance, Ashton Holmes, Michael Eklund, Abbey Thickson, Jennifer Blanc, Ivan Gonzalez

SYNOPSIS: After a nuclear attack, several tenants of a New York apartment building take refuse in an old bomb shelter in the sub levels of the building. After a period of time and the dwindling of supplies, the group starts feeling the weight of their confinement and despair.

 Director of Frontier(s) and Timothy Olyphant's Hitman, helmer Xavier Gens takes a script from Widow scribe Karl Mueller and from writer Eron Sheean of the upcoming Errors of the Human Body about the effects of confinement and nuclear fallout on a group of people forced to take refuse in the bomb shelter basement of their apartment building.

Nine strangers living in the same hi-rise apartment in New York City find themselves at the heart of a nuclear explosion. Escaping to the building's bunker-like basement, they barricade themselves behind a heavy steel door. The building's superintendent Mickey (Michael Biehn, Terminator) reluctantly lets them stay, who had been stockpiling the basement for his own solitude. As the building crumbles above them, Mickey warns them that they have to stay confined until the radiation levels fall to an acceptable level. The strangers must co-exist in order to survive in the claustrophobic confined space. Eva (Lauren German, Hostel Part II) and her lawyer boyfriend Sam (Iván González, Rich Kids), Josh (Milo Ventimiglio, Rocky Balboa) and his half-brother Adrien (Ashton Holmes, A History of Violence), Bobby (Michael Eklund, House of the Dead), Marilyn (Rosanna Arquette, Pulp Fiction) and her daughter Wendi (Abbey Thickson), and Delvin (Courtney B. Vance, Joyful Noise) join Mickey in the dusty darkness to wait out nuclear Armageddon.

The Divide is a disturbing post-apocalyptic tale, wrought with slow descents into madness. As the rationed supplies dwindle, paranoia rises in the group that Mickey is holding out on additional supplies. Eventually, members of the group turn on each other for the believed supplies and worse. Marilyn, after the nuclear blasts, suffers additional personal hardships and loses the last grasps of humanity she possessed. The hardness and harsh realities takes exceptional depravity against her. The only remaining woman, Eva, must hold herself above and away from the sexual debasement and redistribution of power that comes at the hands of Josh and Bobby.

Biehn’s Mickey is a little over the top at the beginning of the film with his bravado and teeth clenched cigar, but becomes more humanized as the film progresses. Ventimiglio’s Josh and Eklund's Bobby start off worried about survival of themselves and their friends, putting themselves into harm’s way for the group, but soon become haunted wasted pale shaved hollowed out skeletal shells of themselves in their descent into radiation sickness and psychosis. Lauren German’s Eva is reminiscent of Milla Jovovich’s Alice from the first Resident Evil film. And Rosanna Arquette’s Marilyn goes to lengths I never expected to see on film from her. As the conditions worsen, the group of survivors is reduced into two groups – the haves and the have-nots. Like a post-apocalyptic Lord of the Flies, reason and intellect are replaced by coarser baser instincts.

Xavier Gens shoots sweeping shoots in the close confines of the single bunker level of the apartment building. Even in the closed quarters, the director moves through the space with sailing panning camera shots. At each stage of the group’s descent into madness, Gens displays each survivor guilt, fears or worse with an effective
 slide show flair. Reminding me of the first Saw movie, the dusty stone surroundings and flickering lights set a very tense mood. Throw in the irrational members of the group with no place to go and time on their idle hands, and Gens sets a stage fused to explode.

Even for die hard post-apocalyptic film fans, The Divide is one of the more disturbing stories put to film in years. Sure, the Hostel and Saw franchises have desensitized audiences thoroughly and there have been many claustrophobic films focusing on a small band of people, their social structure, the absence of law, and the extent man will fall in order for survival. From Ten Little Indians to Lifepod, all entail the deterioration of social structure, but The Divide sets aside the tiptoeing and puts all of it on screen for all to see. From dismemberment to forced sexual acts, this movie holds little back.

The Divide will probably never see the light of day in the mainstream. In the unrated format, there is too much too often with most taboos are not off limits. Not rated and clocking in at almost two hours, the film could have been tightened up by twenty minutes to quicken the pace, but Xavier Gens takes his time in building up the steady decline of what could be the last people alive. Not for the faint of heart, The Divide will polarize lovers of the genre, dividing the fans into those who love it and those who would rather walk away.

WORTH: DVD (for the hardcore fans) or Rental

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