“The Endless”: This Is How You Edit a Horror Movie


Shout-out to editor Michael Felker – who collaborated in the cutting room by multi-hyphenate co-helmer/co-editor duo Justin Benson and Aaaron Moorhead – for literally setting the unnerving pace of the creepy supernatural drama The Endless, an atmospheric Lovecraft-inspired horror film about two brothers who reluctantly rejoin religious cult Camp Arcadia after years of unsuccessful social deprogramming.

Felker and his collaborators give viewers a window into the surreal post-Arcadia lives of skeptical provider Justin (Benson, who also co-wrote) and his stubborn, naive younger sibling Aaron (co-director–cinematographer-editor Aaron Moorhead) just by speeding up almost every preliminary scene that’s set outside of the camp’s desert compound.

The rat-a-tat tempo of The Endless‘s opening sharply contrasts with the slower clip of any scene where Aaron and Justin are heedlessly enjoying Arcadia’s fine fishing, karaoke, and hiking-related amenities. Viewers only really notice that time seems to be moving at a disjointed rate whenever Felker and his collaborators abruptly conclude a scene right before Justin and Aaron can work up the nerve to analyze the giant padlocks, mysterious video tapes, and seemingly ageless residents that give the cult its eerie character.

The film’s fast-slow-fast pacing not only gives psychological weight to Benson’s unabashedly pulpy scenario but also constantly keeps viewers on their toes. A smash-cut conclusion adds a gutting question mark to the scene where Justin begs Aaron to consider why, during an abortive round of target practice, all of his gun’s bullets seem to flatten in midair against an invisible barrier. And a slow, uninterrupted zoom-in on a chalkboard covered with mathematical symbols makes an ordinary physics equation look as alien as Egyptian hieroglyphics.

The Endless
Directed by Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead
Opens April 6, IFC Center


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