Tuesday, December 30, 2014

End of the Line (2007)

I'm just going to go out on a limb here: for the most part, horror movies about cults are generally not made by people who can read. This is some caveman, base-level shit. It's an easy route to throwing in a bunch of gore, sex and screaming, which are all cheap gimmick tricks movies like this use to try and hook you in to watching them. I really don't know how better to express this to you all than by talking about End of the Line, a worthless piece of trash that is, really, nothing more than that.

Director: Maurice Devereaux
Starring: Ilona Elkin, Nicholas Wright

That's right – it's the end of the line, for my kindness toward these movies! Oh yeah, I said it. Let's get started.

We start this off with a girl named Karen, who works as a nurse and is stressed out by her job, to the point where she has to go into her office and take off her clothes – yes, that was the only point of this scene. Just to show boobs for a millisecond. I'm already astounded at the high standards here, aren't you?

Because really, that's the only purpose this movie sees for women – to get naked and show off their boobs after acting submissive and lost. It's misogynistic garbage, plain and simple, but then again, why show women as complex human beings while you can just have them take off their clothes? I think her facial expressions in this shower scene show her progression in realizing this movie won't advance her career:

Then again, the guys in this movie aren't any better really. So fuck it. No standards, zero stars – that's where we're starting off with End of the Line! The movie that thinks a guy coming through a door with a piece of hospital equipment is a good jump scare.

Just to put things into perspective. This is the kind of 'scares' we're dealing with here.

Later on, she goes down to the subway and gets hit on by some creepy guy. If you want some of the brilliant dialogue we get, well, how about this: the guy goes “You got a cigarette?” When she says no, he then says “C'mon, just one cigarette!” Yes, please, materialize cigarettes out of nowhere, you cold-hearted miser! Make them out of thin air!

Then the guy starts to get weirder and creepier, until she gets saved by this other guy in a green shirt. His character is that he's as bland and boring as a guy can be. He also starts talking to her like they're old buddies, since I guess saving a chick from a creepy guy entitles you to start talking her ear off immediately when she's just trying to go about her business. Hypocrisy? What's that?

They get on the train and the lights go out, causing some confusion. While they're trying to figure out what happened, some old lady with crazy eyes comes on the train and acts like she's confused, too. It's all a ruse, though, as she then stabs Mr. Green Shirt in the back for no apparent reason.

How does an old fat lady sneak up on you with a knife like that? C'mon, man, put in a little effort.

This is apparently her 'evil switch' flip, as she then starts babbling about the end of the world in a manner similar to how all these characters are going to act. It's revealed pretty quickly that she's a member of this religious cult called Voice of Hope or something, which apparently has a huge following. And tonight, the movie tells us, is their “day of reckoning” where they're “saving” everyone by killing the shit out of them!

I'm sorry, but for one, how did this group get enough followers to overrun a city and start murdering people? I can see a situation like the Jim Jones Kool-aid stuff where you'd attract a bunch of desperate, weak-minded souls, but that's a whole other ballpark from getting a bunch of people to straight up MASS MURDER everyone they come into contact with for no reason! But, sigh, as we see later, they really do overtake this entire big city somehow. The city was just no match for a bunch of two-bit serial killers with knives. I guess it is too much to ask for even a little bit of logic.

Yeah, the people on the subway aren't prepared to be stabbed to death, because frankly it's a stupid and implausible situation.

Two, why do these people all act like fucking cartoon characters? I didn't realize religious zealotry and horrible goofy acting were part of the same package, but yeah, all of these characters constantly scream every line of dialogue they say, have wide eyes and talk in shaky voices like they belong in mental asylums.

No, you fucking hack, having the characters say "God is love!" while killing, does NOT count as good religious commentary or even remotely decent writing. It's shit. You should feel bad.

Meanwhile, that creepy Quentin Tarantino-looking guy from the platform holds some hot Asian chick at knifepoint and then proceeds to try and rape her. And I would be more offended at this, except he doesn't rape her – he just sort of holds her back against the wall and rubs his hands on her shoulders and arms. I just find it funny how long this goes. He's just sitting there rubbing her arms for like, several scenes in a row cut in-between the other scenes.

It would make sense if this guy WASN'T part of the cult of bad guys, and was just some random dickweed that the cult killed a few scenes later, but no. This is just more of the movie's weird fixation on women - "hey, show them helpless and victimized sexually; THAT makes for good cinema!"

We also get this couple, who decide to start fucking in the train car while the power is out and they're stuck on the tracks. Extra stupidity points for when the conductor announces they'll be delayed and stuck there, and the guy goes “Oh, take your time!” because he's busy making out with the girl. What, so you got no better place to do that? You were just waiting for a fucking subway train car to stop so you could have more titillating sex? I somehow don't think that's really the best idea, unless lying on top of a dirty floor where thousands of peoples' feet have stepped turns you on! Have fun lying in vomit, dirt and all manner of other disgusting things!

I wouldn't complain about the sexism so much, but it's really just all over this movie like a roach infestation. Every other scene is some chick getting half naked on camera or getting groped or harassed, and it starts to feel gross and weird almost immediately because of the tone and context of the whole thing. I don't even really think there's much to be said about it being a message about prudishness like, say, the original Friday the 13th films. It's just weird, perverted garbage. Just go watch a porno next time.

So they get run out of the car and into some kind of break room with two employees of the subway I guess. They have a long conversation about what to do, mostly just repeating the same shit over and over again. God it's boring, too – there's just nothing interesting about this at all. Movie, just stick to showing your juvenile trash boobs and gore scenes – you can't handle anything else.

Most of the group leaves that break room upon deciding that the religious cult members will come back for them otherwise. My favorite part of this is that even though they were with two guys who know these tunnels, they don't ask them how to get out. No, they're fine with just wandering the labyrinthine tunnels all by themselves with flashlights and hammers. Have fun getting lost, you morons.

They run into a few kids from the cult and kill both of them with very little drama or hesitation. Child murder, the fun way!

Later on we cut back to the two workers though, and maybe then it's clear why these guys wouldn't have been a big help – they start arguing almost immediately about how they should stay in the break room and hide, even though they only have one sandwich apparently. Riveting! Then this bald guy reveals he's part of the cult, which prompts the other guy to kick him out of the room and lock the door.

Meanwhile, the group runs into that crazy psycho rapist guy from earlier, who has axed a couple of technician-looking guys in this control room. They tie him up, but don't kill him. I guess since he isn't a little kid, it's okay to leave him alive even though he's clearly murdered at least two people and sexually harassed several others. But he COULD be okay in the end I guess! Here's hoping! Fingers crossed!

Well, fingers crossed for this character to get genital warts, anyway.

Elsewhere, the cult members find the two workers. Apparently they didn't know Mr. Bald Guy was a member, as he has to plead with them and convince them he is – maybe try keeping track of your members better, you fucking idiots. They kill the other guy right there, even though Mr. Bald Guy could have probably helped him and said he was a member too. Then they bring in Mr. Bald Guy's pregnant wife, and she stabs him in the gut and kills him instantly.

Oh, but she says she loves him first; that makes it okay. That is one of this movie's favorite tricks – having a character tearfully kill a loved one and then muse over their dying body about how much they love them. It's a cheap-ass substitute for any real character development. We know nothing about these people, barely even their names unless you reference IMDb while you're watching, and really, it's just tough to get invested in the oh-so-sad tragic deaths of these people by this cult when they kill off characters so fast that it makes The Walking Dead look absolutely conservative in terms of that.

And alright, I might as well not mince words – they stab the pregnant lady in the belly and take out her unborn baby, laying it on top of its parents' dead bodies.

No, I'm not going to show the scene a few seconds later where they put the baby down. I have enough tact to avoid that.

I just can't even imagine the mental state you'd have to be in to write something like this. It's one thing to have a scary scene or something shocking in the way that you didn't expect it, but – this is just nasty and mean for no reason; there's really no artistic reason to do this. Yeah, you're fucking edgy, you're dark as shit...but so what? You want a medal for being fucking disgusting? Cause that's what it is; fucking disgusting.

For that matter, it's doubly awful because of the dialogue during this scene – the pregnant lady is just moaning and bitching to no end about how she's sinned and needs to be saved, etc – she's fucking nine months pregnant. You sure there was nothing she could have done BEFORE NOW? For that matter, why have sex and get pregnant at all if you're part of an Armageddon cult that explicitly hates sexuality and anything related to it AND plans to kill themselves at the doomsday? Did you just not read the fine print on that contract?

Oh, wait, why am I thinking so hard about this? The answer is simple – the movie is some of the worst crap ever thought up by humanity. It's complete horse shit shock-mongering made by people with the emotional maturity of 12-year-olds. There. Simple and concise – that sums it up quite nicely.

If you actually continued watching after that scene for some goddamn reason, we get a scene where this other girl is also revealed to be part of the cult. Worried because she had sex with that guy earlier, she goes in the bathroom and starts washing out her vagina with a bar of bathroom soap.

I'm just at a loss for words.

What she doesn't know is that the soap was unclean too, so that won't save her:

That soap has seen the hands of thousands of prostitutes and strippers taking the subway home, therefore it is unclean too and YOU MUST DIE!!!

There's a lot more whining about how the people love each other before they kill one another and blah, blah, blah – fuck off and die, movie. Doesn't this level of drama just blow you away? “Oh yeah, let's have all these characters kill their loved ones! That will show the harsh and gritty reality of their world and warped minds! It's so deep and edgy! Then throw in some lines about how much they love each other even though they're killing each other! That's a real moral gray area, right?”

No...no it isn't.

Oh, a scene where the one guy has to play dead while the cultists are stabbing a bunch of bodies, and he gets called away before he gets to the main character? What abominably clichéd writing! That's...exactly what I'm used to from you, End of the Line.

"Maybe if I keep my head down, they won't drag me in for the sequel!"

There are some more lame scenes, like where the one guy who's sort of been leading the group makes his way to the lobby of the subway station and sees that the city is burning down and everything is up in smoke.

Really, movie? These two-bit hack religious fanatic murderers managed to take down AN ENTIRE CITY?!?! THAT IS JUST...acceptable to me at this point.

Yes, really. I'm completely fine with it.

Then he gets killed off unceremoniously by the old lady, because old ladies in this universe are invincible of course. Then she cradles his head in her lap and sings to him, because I guess the movie is trying to pass that off as scary or creepy now. Fuck if I know why; it's as effective as a light tap on the shoulder, in the grand scheme of scares.

Meanwhile, Karen confronts weirdo rapist-psycho dude in this other part of the tunnels, where he says he isn't going to kill her if she has sex with him. Really now. THAT'S the final conflict here? We're still on the “have sex with me” tangent from this loser?

That's seriously like some shit I would have made up as a joke to put in a picture-caption in one of these reviews, but this movie did it for real. She kills him, I guess, and then sits down and has visions of these demon things surrounding her.

"Wipe that blood off your chin, don't you know that's rude?!"

I don't know, the movie's over; that's all I care about.

It may come as a surprise to you after all of this, but no, this movie isn't good. It's one of the most wretched and unpleasant things I've sat through this side of The Purge: Anarchy and Curse of the Zodiac – and if you follow my blog, those two reference points should tell you something about this manure pile of a movie.

There's really just nothing to hook you in. What are we supposed to like here? The way the women are all written as cardboard cut outs with great tits and no real character? The awful writing, riddled with cliché and boring, half-assed dialogue? The boring plot and even more boring kill scenes, which lacked any kind of creativity or scares to them? The one-dimensional characterization of the religious cult characters, who have no real motives or anything to get us into their heads and, you know, actually scare us?

Contrary to whatever bullshit you might believe about religion, people (and people in cults, specifically) are generally more complicated than simply 'THE WORLD IS ENDING, LET'S KILL PEOPLE FOR NO REASON AND LAUGH ABOUT IT!' And, amazingly, exploring peoples' beliefs and convictions, even the darkest sides of them, makes for better horror movies. But that takes actual work, so of course we didn't get that with this movie.

I mean, there were possibilities! Maybe we could have had a movie about one person who joined that apocalyptic cult and then started to have doubts after seeing what they intended to do. Maybe we could have a real study of the human psyche and its frailty. But nahhh. Serial killers on the subway are the real way to go!

But really even if the rest of the movie had redeeming factors, it would still be the lowest form of shit, simply for the scene where they kill the pregnant lady and take out the fetus. I've looked at some pretty damn sick, gruesome stuff on here, some of it being outwardly unpleasant and grotesque to extremes that ruined the movies. And none of them – count it; exactly zero of them – ever went this far, to the level of killing an unborn fetus on screen, particularly in the manner and style this movie chose. It's just a tasteless crap, is what it is. No mincing words, no grey area, no double standard – it's just awful.

I can think of so many better alternatives, too. If you want a movie about a cult, go watch The Sacrament. If you want a movie about people wandering around underground, The Descent is a good pick. There's just so little reason to watch this shit. So don't. Forget about it like the wretchedness that it is. Apparently it won at least two awards, a fact which I was shocked to learn. Were standards really that low in 2007?

Oh well. This is the end of the line for End of the Line, and the end of the line for 2014. Happy New Year!

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