The Divide opens frantically with an impressive vista on the soon to be completely levelled New York.
As the tenants of a high rise block escape to a bunker like basement, we’re shut in on what first starts out as an intriguing take on the post apocalypse.
As it soon becomes apparent there’s no way out the group of cardboard characters slowly but surely lose their grasp on civilisation over the not so testing time-span of a few days.
The “we can’t get out of here” premise is set up well and Director Xavier Gens show some technical flair but it soon descends into a mockery of other and better isolation vehicles.
If The Divide professes to be a social study then writers Eron Sheean and Karl Mueller’s descending tone from intrigue to straight out disturb fest massively mis-steps. The deplorable and implausible actions of the group have more in keeping with a motley crew of reprobates who were likely not very pleasant in the first place. These guys would have gone this low regardless of whether the end was nigh, completely diluting any worthwhile nihilistic statements of the capability of man.
If the cause for all this is indeed radiation poisoning, then the soul was likely poisoned first with morals likely left outside before the slamming shut of the basement door, exemplified by an early axe dismembering of a body that misconstrues itself as a test of will, but more the likely desire of Michael Eklunds sicko.
Would be heroes become villains as cabin fever takes hold in what seems an improbable timescale for descent; the purpose of the movie and our protagonists gets lost quickly.
Motivations are unexplained and disproportionate with the only goals of the lead characters and it would appear Director Gens, is to see how low they can take it as acts become grossly distasteful and heavily disturbing; but disturbing in all the wrong ways, as the more likely realistic fear of doom, isolation and the effects on the mind give way to the fear of what heinous act is next on the agenda, perpetrated in chief by the ghastly looking and acting Milo Venitmiglia (Yo Adrian!) and Eklund, who at least comes off as an effective nutter.
The nearest we have to a hero in Lauren German’s premier female lead goes someway to making believable the reasonable resolve of the human spirit and the victimised Rosanna Arquette is played convincingly enough. Michael Biehn as always is good value.
And when the end finally comes, it reminds of the shit crawl of Shawshank to provide a satisfying money shot pay off that while predictable, delivers on the apocalyptic promise.
But The Divide is a post-apocalyptic thriller that fails to thrill when focusing on the gratuitous and implausible erosion of morals with ever worsening acts with scant justification.
At just over two hours I was longing for the end way before. If the end IS nigh then there is nothing worth learning about humanity here.