>> Fantastic Fest 3: End of the Line (John’s Review, 6.5/10)

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phpthumbphp.jpgEnd of the Line is possibly the best Stephen King movie ever made that has absolutely nothing to do with Stephen King.  Writer/director Maurice Devereaux has created a zippy, indy horror flick that reminds me of that author’s specific fear of crazy Christians and end-time prophecy.  It’s a small movie that thinks big, making the most of its cast and budget to create an efficient, effective creep-out.

A train full of strangers are interrupted from their travel by their subway’s sudden stop mid-route.  Suddenly, strangely uniformed men on the train reach for their buzzing pagers, read their synchronized message, and brandish bladed crucifixes.  Their mission?  To save the souls of the unbelievers in the world by murdering them.  What happens next is a grisly chase through darkened subway tunnels as a small group of survivors flee from the apocalyptic cult members while the outside world experiences the same mass killing spree, all in the name of God.

It’s a more-than-worthy addition to the “religious nightmare” subgenre of horror, and hardcore horror fans should eat this up with a spoon.  There’s plenty of blood splatter and mayhem, and it’s slightly smarter than other b-movie survival horror films.  The movie feels a little bit “been there, done that”, although I’m hard pressed to think of another movie like it.  I think the run-from-the-threat plot is where the film feels as if it’s going through the motions, and the peeks at the outside Biblical doom and gloom taking place while the ensemble stomp around in subway tunnels raise more interesting questions than the film answers.  The ending, however, is nearly pitch perfect–the visuals of the last 60 seconds being some of the most geniunely scary I’ve seen in a long, long time.

The simple pleasures of a well-made horror b-movie can beat any watered down big-budget “A-List” horror movie for me.  There’s usually some level of imagination at work that sets it apart from the rest, no matter how mediocre the actors are, or how easily the film might teeter into genre cliches.  End of the Line feels both familiar and different–a solid first feature film from Canadian Maurice Devereaux.

6.5 on a 1 to 10 scale 

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