Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Watch: Charlize Theron & Tom Hardy Are Bad-Ass In The New Trailer For ‘Mad Max Fury Road’ Watch: Charlize Theron & Tom Hardy Are Bad-Ass In The New Trailer For ‘Mad Max Fury Road’ Netflix Neo-Noir 'Bloodline' Gives Viewers The Tragic Anti-Hero Television Has Been Waiting For Since Walter White Netflix Neo-Noir 'Bloodline' Gives Viewers The Tragic Anti-Hero Television Has Been Waiting For Since Walter White Amy Poehler, Louis CK, & Amy Schumer Reportedly Approached For 'Daily Show,' Trevor Noah Faces Controversy Amy Poehler, Louis CK, & Amy Schumer Reportedly Approached For 'Daily Show,' Trevor Noah Faces Controversy Watch: First Trailer For Action Comedy ‘Masterminds’ Starring Zach Galifianakis, Owen Wilson & Kristen Wiig Watch: First Trailer For Action Comedy ‘Masterminds’ Starring Zach Galifianakis, Owen Wilson & Kristen Wiig 'Mad Men' Creator Matthew Weiner Reportedly Blocked Jon Hamm From Starring In David Fincher's 'Gone Girl' 'Mad Men' Creator Matthew Weiner Reportedly Blocked Jon Hamm From Starring In David Fincher's 'Gone Girl' Hugh Jackman Says 'Wolverine 3' Will Be His Last Turn As The Mutant Character Hugh Jackman Says 'Wolverine 3' Will Be His Last Turn As The Mutant Character Sacha Baron Cohen Reportedly Returning To Write, Produce, Star In & Direct The Freddie Mercury Biopic Sacha Baron Cohen Reportedly Returning To Write, Produce, Star In & Direct The Freddie Mercury Biopic Terrence Malick's Next Film With Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara & Michael Fassbender Reportedly Gets Titled Terrence Malick's Next Film With Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara & Michael Fassbender Reportedly Gets Titled Sean Young Says She Won't Be Back For 'Blade Runner 2' Sean Young Says She Won't Be Back For 'Blade Runner 2' Quentin Tarantino's List Of His 20 Favorite Spaghetti Westerns Quentin Tarantino's List Of His 20 Favorite Spaghetti Westerns Why Is It Suddenly Not OK To Have Been Gripped By 'The Jinx'? Why Is It Suddenly Not OK To Have Been Gripped By 'The Jinx'? Marvel Reportedly Wants Adam McKay To Direct One Of Their Movies Marvel Reportedly Wants Adam McKay To Direct One Of Their Movies New Infographic Lays Out Canonical 'Star Wars' Timeline With Films, TV And Books New Infographic Lays Out Canonical 'Star Wars' Timeline With Films, TV And Books Watch: First Trailer For Arnold Schwarzenegger's Zombie Pic 'Maggie' With Abigail Breslin Watch: First Trailer For Arnold Schwarzenegger's Zombie Pic 'Maggie' With Abigail Breslin Best Of 2014: The 15 Best Movie Soundtracks Of 2014 Best Of 2014: The 15 Best Movie Soundtracks Of 2014 The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far Watch: 3 Graphic, Very NSFW Clips From Lars von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac Vol II — Director's Cut' Watch: 3 Graphic, Very NSFW Clips From Lars von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac Vol II — Director's Cut' The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki 20 Survival Films That Will Take You Into The Abyss 20 Survival Films That Will Take You Into The Abyss

Review: Xavier Gens' 'The Divide' Is Silly, Clichéd Apocalyptic Trash

Photo of Drew Taylor By Drew Taylor | The Playlist January 12, 2012 at 7:01PM

It seemed, to us at least, that there was a strangely apocalyptic cloud that was cast over many of the SXSW film festival selections in 2011 – things like "Bellflower" all the way up to "Attack the Block" had a definite "end of days" feel. "The Divide" might have been the one movie to attack the material with the most heads-on gusto, however, with the opening scene bringing New York City to waste with a hail of comet-like missiles. It's a striking image, for sure, but there's not much that equals it in the movie's labored, two-hour running time, either in terms of visual sophistication or crafting a sense of apocalyptic gloom. Instead, you'll be wondering why everything's so over-lit after the world's ended and why anyone would behave the way the characters do.
0
The Divide

It seemed, to us at least, that there was a strangely apocalyptic cloud that was cast over many of the SXSW film festival selections in 2011 – things like "Bellflower" all the way up to "Attack the Block" had a definite "end of days" feel. "The Divide" might have been the one movie to attack the material with the most heads-on gusto, however, with the opening scene bringing New York City to waste with a hail of comet-like missiles. It's a striking image, for sure, but there's not much that equals it in the movie's labored, two-hour running time, either in terms of visual sophistication or crafting a sense of apocalyptic gloom. Instead, you'll be wondering why everything's so over-lit after the world's ended and why anyone would behave the way the characters do.

After we see the rockets destroy Manhattan, we move quickly to an underground bunker that our ostensive protagonist Michael Biehn has maintained (we learn at some point that he's the super of this particular apartment building). Survivors run through the rubble and into the shelter, including Milo Ventimiglia (from the television series "Heroes"), Rosanna Arquette, Lauren German, Courtney B. Vance and Ashton Holmes (who played Viggo's son in "A History of Violence").

The Divide

For the first twenty minutes or so of the movie they just sit and stew, arguing loudly while bombs continue to shake the building's foundation. Biehn is the obvious hard-ass, wanting things done his way, but the other characters seem less than ancillary; they're barely there. Few of the characters reveal enough about themselves, or interact with their fellow survivors, to actually receive names, and the movie's sickly photography style, which casts every actor in a kind of lurid, fluorescent haze, will just distract and make you wonder if enough electricity could be coursing through the building to make everything look this ugly.

As the movie progresses, a fine litany of end-of-the-world clichés is trotted out as stop-gap placeholders for actual narrative drive. Then those recede and we're left with very little. The biggest moment happens when a bunch of mysterious scientist-army types invade the shelter. These guys look like what would happen if Jean Paul Gaultier designed costumes for the next "Halo" game, with all sorts of overlapping textures and big, white guns. While these interlopers are dispatched quickly, they spirit away with Rosanna Arquette's child and leave the group bewildered and wanting revenge.

The Divide

This is all well and good, in terms of plot mechanics, but the thrust of this subplot dies out almost as soon as it's brought up. One of the survivors goes out to look for the kid (Ventimiglia) but instead ends up killing more of these guys and returns to the shelter quickly, only to have the door sealed from the outside. There's no real mystery to his expedition, just some hoary Holocaust imagery (which mercifully is left unexplored) and the whole thing ends abruptly and without much thought, which is actually a good way to describe the remainder of the movie.

You see, in "The Divide," characters react to situations in ways that no real-life human being ever would. The filmmakers, including director Xavier Gens who directed the 70s-horror-movie-sampler-platter "Frontier(s)" and the schlocky Hollywood action movie "Hitman," are clearly going for the vibe of a Stephen King tale, something along the lines of "The Stand" or "Under the Dome," with the extremity of the human condition brought to the forefront. It's just that every single one of these character beats or plot developments feels 100% phony and in the end, the movie reveals less a mysterious tale of sci-fi survival than a lumpy, misogynistic piece of torture porn trash.

The Divide

Ventimiglia, previously seen as someone who would risk potential contamination to rescue a stolen child, turns into a monster, literally raping Rosanna Arquette until she dies (it should also be noted that Lauren German, the "strong" female character, does nothing to object or intervene). Michael Biehn, who might have been too hammy (he literally chomps on a cigar for most of the movie), is still a strong screen presence, but he's tied down and tortured for a good 40 minutes of the movie. People shoot each other and scream, and the movie's tired bomb shelter sets get more repetitive and less appealing as the movie wears on.

And as a 90-minute movie, there certainly could have been some kicky fun to be had in "The Divide." As it stands, it's pretentious need to investigate the depths of human depravity following a nuclear conflict leave it as worn out and rusty as the pipes that line the film's fallout shelter set. "The Divide" is an ugly film, both visually and thematically. But it only really rubs you the wrong way if you take it seriously, which we can't imagine anyone would. [D]

This is a reprint of our review from the 2011 SXSW Film Festival.

This article is related to: The Divide, Review


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


Check out Indiewire on LockerDome on LockerDome

E-Mail Updates