Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead (director)
29 June 2018 (released)
29 June 2018
Brothers Justin (Justin Benson) and Aaron (Aaron Moorheard) are barely managing to eke out an existence with lousy jobs and few prospects. Out of the blue they receive a video tape from a death cult they were raised in, and escaped from a decade ago, inviting them back to ‘The Ascension’. Aaron’s memories are rosy and wants to return while Justin wary of the previous experience is reluctant to say the least. Aaron convinces Justin on the condition that its quick visit and they are out of there fast.
The brothers return to Camp Arcadia in the middle of nowhere and find a familiar set up with Hal (Tate Ellingham) still pretty much in charge and the rest of the cult going about their business. Aaron starts to feel comfortable again, being pulled into the comfy security of the set up and an old flame. Justin isn’t buying it and remains sceptical of the whole thing; but it’s easy going and they decide to stay longer.
The cult initially has a whiff of Jim Jones about it with Hal and his lackeys, and plenty of sinister looking barrels about the camp! That’s until you learn that these are filled with craft ales that they sell to keep the cult afloat. They are actually a pretty friendly bunch; a familiar mixture of the perma-smiling gullible believers and nutcases.
However, things aren’t quite what they seem with the appearance of two moons, strange invisible barriers and noises. Realising that it’s all getting a little odd they move beyond the perimeters of the cult’s camp and come upon a series of very strange and bizarre scenarios, and cotton on that time is not what it should be and running out.
There’s more, much more, but that’s better left undiscussed and for the viewer to make their own mind up and figure out. Directors and stars Benson (also the writer) and Moorhead have crafted a strange tale that by and large rewards the viewer’s patience. As actors they are solid, and the sibling tension is palpable, though they can be garrulous at times, and that disengages. The high concept and the story however don’t and that is the key and strength of the film as the ideas and situations develop. It is also beautifully filmed with some fantastic landscapes, it has a worn dusty look that suits the cult and the camp out in the wilderness.
This writer’s view is that it’s probably stronger on the Sci-Fi than the horror, with the temporal elements guiding events, though it doesn’t hold back on either the psychological or visceral when required.