Hell Arrives in Theaters, Friday the 13th: The Divide
This is how the world ends: with a bang and then a whimper. Director Xavier Gens’ apocalyptic drama, The Divide, opens with chaos. People trying to escape a building following a nuclear blast are seen pouring down the stairs, pushing and screaming, not sure of what is happening. Nine people make it to the basement of an old apartment building, having survived the initial attack, and what the bomb couldn’t do, they achieve.
The group is comprised of a couple (Lauren German, Ivan Gonzalez), three male friends (Milo Ventimiglia, Michael Eklund, Ashton Holmes), a mother and young daughter (Rosanna Arquette, Abbey Thickson), a male building tenant (Courtney B. Vance), and Mickey the superintendent (Michael Biehn). Paranoid about Arabs with nuclear weapons, Mickey’s been waiting for this day to come and has stocked the basement with cans of baked beans. He warns the group that they cannot open the door because of the nuclear fallout.
After a couple of days of bean-eating and impolite exchanges, the group thinks they are being rescued by a group of men in biohazard suits, helmets, and breathing devices. Instead, the men seize the child, attempt to exterminate the survivors, and leave. Soon after, they return and weld the door closed, sealing the survivors in the basement.
It is discovered that Mickey, who has a few screws loose but is in charge, has quite a stash of provisions, which he has been keeping to himself. Thus the first major crisis among the survivors, who quickly devolve into violence, sexual sadism, and mental illness. The Divide is an intensely bleak film and totally absorbing. While the audience is sickened by some of the acts committed by a few of the survivors, they can’t turn away from the screen for more than a second or two, anxious to see what next horror befalls the group.
In a then-there-was-one (or is it then-there-was-none?) progression of events, the characters continue to unravel, their humanity level reduced to that of the cockroaches that infest the basement. As they are subsumed by madness, they destroy each other, both physically and emotionally.
The Divide is not a movie for kids; it is graphic and violent. Its capable cast convincingly provides a portrait of mankind at its worst. Fans of apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic films should find it darkly entertaining, but few will leave the theater whistling a happy tune. It opens in theaters Friday, January 13, 2012.