Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Divide (2011)

Title: The Divide (2011)

Director: Xavier Gans

Cast: Michael Biehn, Rosanna Arquette, Lauren German, Milo Ventimiglia, Michael Eklund


So this is a very polarizing film, you’ll either love it or you’ll hate it. Either you’ll appreciate the themes and issues it addresses, or you’ll feel like you lost two hours of your life. It’s interesting that a film that causes such polarizing effects is called ‘The Divide’. Me? Im a weirdo, so I personally fell somewhere in between. I loved some things about it, but I also felt I could have gone further with it's ideas, as it is, it feels like a film held back by budgetary limitations.  

The Divide starts out with what a lot of post apocalyptic films avoid; the actual apocalypse! This I liked because most post apocalyptic films only talk about their apocalypse by way of newspaper articles or a simple voice over, but not The Divide. This film actually shows us the nukes cutting through the skies and landing right smack in the middle of New York City. The film focuses on a group of people that watch the bombs fall from their building, suddenly, chaos ensues and it’s all about seeking shelter! The masses run, searching for a place to hide! A group of strangers end up in a buildings basement because it’s the only safe spot they can find. According to the buildings super, all they have to do is wait for the radiation levels to go down, then they can go out.  The real question is how much time will pass before they all go nuts? Will they survive each other? 

So this is the kind of film in which a bunch of people end up enclosed in a room in which slowly but surely their true colors begin to surface; kind of like in Vincenzo Natali’s Cube (1997), a film in which a series of strangers suddenly wake up inside of a room;  they don’t know how they got there; nobody is related, nobody knows each other, the only thing that connects them is the room and the situation they are in; same thing with George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (1968). In films of this nature, characters have to learn to work together in order to survive; but can they work together when they can’t even stand each other? Usually, in these films the personalities that are forced to live together end up being vastly different; so you get the quiet one, the funny one, the nerdy one, the tough one, the alpha male and the unequivocal asshole. With so many different personalities in one room, it’s only a matter of time before they are at each others throats.

The Divide is no different, only in The Divide, almost everyone is an asshole, or at least ends up turning into one. Imagine a film in which almost everyone is despicable. This is the kind of film The Divide is, it’s a very bleak film that has little to no faith in humanity, some people will end up hating the film simply because of this. There’s so much negativity on this picture! It’s the kind of film that says that under strenuous circumstances, humanity will end up eating each other; which in a way is true. The tougher things get economically speaking, the trickier everyone gets, suddenly you pay three times more for something that use to cost a whole lot less a couple of years ago. Suddenly your mechanic finds a way for you to come back in a couple of weeks. Suddenly gas prices skyrocket. Humanity eats itself in a never ending vicious cycle. Now imagine if suddenly food was no longer available in supermarkets! Imagine if there was no power, no electricity, no money. Would chaos ensue? Would people end up turning into cannibals? Would we loose all our moral fiber? Our humanity? Would we all go nuts if suddenly no cameras were taping our every move? Would we steal? Cheat? Lie? Kill?

The problem with The Divide is that it tests your patience because 90% of it takes place in the basement. After a while you grow tired of the same setting and wish you could see something different. You end up feeling as claustrophobic as the characters. For example, Cube had this premise of people locked up in a room, but the room always changed, and the characters were always confronted with a different situation. In The Divide the locations don’t change, it’s the characters that change. The nicest people end up turning into the biggest monsters. So before you watch this movie you need to ask yourself if being inside of a room with a bunch of complete douche bags is what you want, cause that’s what your gonna get! This is the kind of film that wants to explore humanities darker side, so you’ll see humans turning into metaphorical monsters. If you’re not ready to go down the rabbit hole of craziness, you know, the deep dark side of the human psyche, then don’t bother. Though to be honest, I thought the film was going to be sicker, more depraved, it isn’t all that.

I enjoyed the sci-fi elements they infused into the film, but honestly I wish they could have explained more, shown more. As it is, they only give us a glimpse of coolness. This is a movie that can wear you down, by the mid way point you don’t want to be in the room with these people anymore, at least that’s how I felt. To me this is the kind of film I watch only once, and never bother to revisit again. Director Xavier Gans works with a minuscule budget, and obviously this limits how much you can show in terms of effects and action, but this is the kind of film that relies not on effects, but on its performances. It was cool to see Michael Biehn on a film again, in my opinion he is so underused in movies. The rest of the cast really go for this descent into madness, Rosanna Arquette does a great job as well. In the end, this is a very dark picture, which gets kind of stale because it only takes place in once place. The Divide is an overdose of darkness, despair, betrayal, lust and violence, which will test your patience. Prognosis for this one: you’ll either endure it, or turn it off at the half way point; I doubt you’ll love it.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5 



George Beremov [Nebular] said...

You gave this one a 3 out of 5? You're too generous. I thought it sucked bad. The final scene was great though.

Franco Macabro said...

Yeah, well, three out of five isnt a masterpiece.Actually, I was debating if I should give it a 2 1/2 out of five or a three....I could reconsider it...I did think the film looked good, it had decent performances, and I enjoyed the opening and the closing the white suit guys were cool looking, which are the reasons I gave it a three. But I think it's clear from the review that it's not a film for everyone and that most people simply wont dig it, it's just too negative...and also, kind of slow. The thing about being in the same room for the whole movie got old fast.

Thanks for commenting Nebular!

Kaijinu said...

I was really expecting somewhat of a gorefest, knowing Mr. Gens' ability to entertain us with it, but I do respect his change of vision to something "tamer" on the grue.

True enough, it's no masterpiece, but the outcome's pretty fair.

Franco Macabro said...

I too was expecting something a little more graphic, I mean Frontier(s) is a freaking bloodbath of a film. As it is, I think The Divide has only one truly gruesome scene.

SFF said...

I enjoyed your look at this film and it really has put it on hold for me. I was more excited initially, but with your assessment and everything I've read it has definitely brought me back down to Earth a bit on it.

I laughed a little because you said you'll either love it or hate it and then you were in the middle on it brother.

Having said that, I know you were breaking it down and offering a general analysis of its pros and cons too. That was good. Also, ultimately, you predict people will fall in the latter category.

Although we don't agree on Reign Of Fire, I fear you may be right with my feeling on this one. It's on hold for me. Cheers myu friend.

Franco Macabro said...

I didn't hate Reign of Fire dude, I dug it! It's just the CGI that gets in my way, but it's not a bad movie in my book.

As for The Divide, I was actually pretty pumped to see it, very excited. That poster is all sorts of awesome and Xavier Gans directing I thought to myself this should be something interesting. Plus it was in a post apocalyptic setting! Unfortunately, its such a negativity bomb! It can definetly wait dude, no rush to see this one.

SFF said...

I have to say Franco, the more I read the more it sounds so utterly depressing I'm inclined to avoid it. Cheers my friend. And you know I'm ribbing you on Reign Of Fire. I think we're pretty clos3e on that one mate!

Canada said...

This movie is dark. Dark, intense and very powerful. It's full of things we all fear but most of all it encompasses the depravity of human beings when put in a situation such as what befalls the characters in this film. The cover of the movie itself should be enough to tell you that this isn't going to be a happy film. Blood, violence and even a considerable amount of rape are all in this film and it's all done so very intensely! This film shows you the horrifying and frightening things people will do to each other in order to survive, when crammed into the basement of an apartment building. This movie didn't hold back. The characters didn't hold back.

Franco Macabro said...

Blood, violence, rape, darkness, hatred, backstabbings, paranoia, betrayals....agree with you this films pure negativity might be a bit too much to bare for some, especially when it goes on for the entire film.

rbk said...

"The problem with The Divide is that it tests your patience because 90% of it takes place in the basement. After a while you grow tired of the same setting and wish you could see something different. You end up feeling as claustrophobic as the characters. "

Yup. I would have loved the beginning, ending and/or the story on those mysterious guys in the hazmat suits fleshed out. That aside, I really enjoyed this flick - I love my movies dark and relentlessly bleak.


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