The Divide (2012)

It’s the end of the world as we know it. In Hollywood, anyway. If Roland Emmerich isn’t busy blowing it to pieces with aliens and nature, then you’ll be damn sure that zombies will be biting it to death or horrible viruses will be creating a body-bag shortage. In recent months we’ve turned towards a more thoughtful smattering of apocalypse movies, from the bizarre Melancholia to the psychologically intriguing Take Shelter. With comedy / romance Seeking a Friend for the End of the World coming soon, it shows the genre is still ripe for the plucking. And with The Divide, it’s given another boost. Not perfection, but far from Emmerich’s explosively bollocks 2012

The Divide is a taut, disturbing, finely crafted piece of work. Featuring some excellent performances and packed with tension, this only suffers in the inevitably saggy middle, but overall this is 100% worth the watch. The apocalypse is here. Enjoy the show.

Eva (Lauren German) is having a bad day. Not only is she living with her effeminately pointless boyfriend Sam (Iván González), but someone’s dropped some nuclear bombs outside. Inconvenient, huh? Rushing downstairs, she manages to bundle into the basement of her apartment block, along with a smattering of other residents.

We quickly realize the basement is “owned” by the janitor Mickey (Michael Biehn) and luckily for them he’s a post-9/11 paranoid nutcase with lots of stored food and (thankfully) a toilet! Mickey is clearly teetering on the edge of cuckooland, but it’s not Mickey that Eva should be worried about…

As the ‘survivors’ begin to realize exactly how screwed they are, their sanity slowly slips away and factions begin appearing, turning their safe haven into a claustrophobic tomb made of metal and hopelessness.

For a film set almost entirely in one location, it is surprisingly compelling. It does sag horribly mid-way through, delving too slowly into the deteriorating sanity of the survivors, but luckily this 20 minutes of drag is surrounded by 90 minutes of awesome.

Acting wise, The Divide has a lot of talent on display here. Michael Biehn is utterly superb throughout and perhaps it’s telling that the film sags when his character is inactive (and tied to a chair…).

I was also surprised how good Milo Ventimiglia was, considering he’s normally just an annoying twit, and his ability to realistically display his growing insanity is a credit to his quality as an actor. The other supporting roles do very well and Lauren German’s Eva is efficiently elusive throughout.

Director Xavier Gens (Frontiers, Hitman) does an excellent job of crafting the script of first time writers Karl Mueller and Eron Sheean, making it into a disturbingly dark and claustrophobic experience. The start and end are stunning and Gens proves he is a director to watch.

The Divide is jammed with theme and message, mostly revolving around survival instinct and man’s inhumanity to man. Unfortunately this ensures all characters are morally demented in some fashion, from cowards to rapists, and it’s a grim and harrowing watch. The lack of gallows humour and genuinely likeable characters might have some viewers reaching for the remote, but this is ten times more compelling than other apocalyptic depressers like Carriers or Zombie Diaries 2. The Divide takes itself seriously and it’s a thought-provoking and brutal expression of Humanity’s fragile grasp on sanity.

The Divide would be the perfect companion piece of the computer game franchise Fallout, showing what could happen in one of those horrible vaults. It is superbly crafted, beautifully scored and ultimately a great watch. Narcissistic, dark, brutal and thoroughly enjoyable. Watch it.

Rating: ★★★★★★★½☆☆

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