Posted May 8, 2012 by Alex Moss Editor in Films
 
 

The Divide DVD


If this is the end of the world there’s more to fear than we first thought. 

Cinema has a strange obsession with the end of the world.  Be it brought upon by aliens, zombies, huge asteroids or simply Michael Bay blowing up any European city he doesn’t like at the moment, mostly France.  It’s what comes after the end of the world that always proves to be the most thought provoking.  Forget Will Smith punching aliens, or Roland Emmerich making sure some plucky dog gets saved over millions of human lives, The Divide deals with people.  In all their down and dirty ways when the proverbial hits the fan who are you going to turn to?  The answer is you won’t turn to anyone, but most likely, as is the case in The Divide, you will turn on everyone.

The Divide opens with the end of the world.  A nuclear strike on New York results in a handful of residents of an apartment building rushing into a bunker built in their basement by one of the tenants.  The problem is Mickey (Michael Biehn) doesn’t want them there.  So as alpha male Josh (Milo Ventimiglia) and borderline psychotic Bobby (Michael Eklund) vie for control of the bunker the rest of the inhabitants try to calm the situation.  But then the men in white suitsturn up.  Hazmat suits training guns at the residents of the bunker and soon all hell is breaking loose.  With food running low the gang begin to turn on each other and barter what little goods they have, even mother Marilyn (Rosanna Arquette) is willing to sell her soul and body.  Only former drug addict Eva (Lauren German) seems to retain any semblance of morality.

Shakespeare famously said that art is a mirror held up to nature.  Cinema is more often than not a mirror held up to society to highlight all our strengths and horrendous weaknesses.  The Divide certainly falls into the latter category.  It is a hard-hitting descent into hell.  One that is all too believable and gut churning to stomach.  Mickey calls it early on when talking about the bomb on Hiroshima he says “The lucky ones died in the blast”.  If only the characters in The Dividehad been so lucky.  This is a gritty little thrill ride of how the world ends, not with a whimper, but with a bloody curdling, vomit inducing cry.

Early on director Xavier Gens projects a wonderful John Carpenter like situation.  Our gang of mismatched survivors bicker but soon fall into a pattern of waiting.  And then the door to the bunker begins to pry open paving the way for menacing figures dressed in white, angels of death if you will.  The bass inspired electro heavy soundtrack further dipping you into Carpenter’s The Thing territory.  And then it ends, the door sealed, our heroes, if you dare to call them that, are trapped with one and other with food and water running short.

Xens, best known for the horror of Hitman, is no stranger to the collapse of social convention having delivered the brutal Frontier(s).  Frontier(s) had more than a Nazis present and The Divide plays with certain assumptions and conventions about people’s reactions to disaster with wonderfully stimulating effect.  So Josh and Bobby start off as free-spirited renegades before shaving their heads and baring more than a striking resemblance to Ed Norton’s neo-Nazis in American History X.  Mickey may start out as the dictator of the group but, while his reign is short-lived, you soon begin to realise that he had the right idea.  To survive no matter the cost.  As such The Divide toys with and ruthlessly destroys both the audience and characters’ preconceptions.  To quote Dr. Peter Venkman from Ghostbusters as the world stands on the precipice of annihilation “Dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria”.  Here we get torture, rape, body-chopping and nail pulling and it’s painted in bloody Technicolor all over pretty-boy Hereos star Peter Petrelli’s face.

Performance wise the cast are all on career best form.  Rosanna Arquette is devastating as the glazed over trauma induced Marilyn.  Ventimiglia starts as his normal brooding self before descending into a maniacal wide-eyed sociopath, anxious to exploit everyone he comes into contact with.  His transformation by the end of the film could herald a potential new career for the normally clean-cut boy-band look he normally sports.  Meanwhile Michael Biehn begins as a snarling, almost Quint from Jaws, like sage.  Anxious to stay alive good old Uncle Mickey safe-guarding his community from the nay-sayers.  Of course his own greed and selfish ways are his undoing but he is a character that by the end you root for.  Then there is Lauren German as Eva, the only character who strives to maintain her humanity.  She should be used to this sort of thing by now having starred in Hostel Part II, but nothing could prepare German for this nightmare and she handles it with Ellen Ripley like levels of grace under fire.  Suffice to say this is one girl you want on your side till the bitter, blood-stained, flesh-rotting end.

The Divide is a true horror film, it won’t make you jump but it will scare and scar deep into your soul.  If the end does come, pray, beg and plead you are one of the lucky ones who die in the blast.


Alex Moss Editor

 
Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email: alex.moss@filmjuice.com