Friday, 11 October 2013

Aint War Hell? - The Divide (2012)

The Divide is a 2012 sci-fi/psychological thriller type film, dealing with the trials of a group of survivors who hide in a basement to escape a nuclear war.

The film is somewhat different to most "post nuclear" films as it makes no effort to explain how or why the war happened, or indeed how life goes on in the fallout riddled aftermath, instead, the film concentrates on the breakdown of human morality following a harrowing and extremely life changing event.

Although the film gets a little slow in places, which is unsurprising given its subject matter, and lacks any kind of deep meaningful scenes or action packed edge of your seat type bits, the whole aspect of people "going rotten" is well explored and realistically portrayed.
The film itself also doesn't make use of "A-list" actors in much capacity, the only names in this film I recognise are Michael Biehn and Rosanna Arquette, both of whom play pivotal characters and do so extremely well.

The film begins with nuclear missiles raining down on New York City. Eight residents of an apartment block force their way into the ex-military survivalist caretakers fallout shelter in the basement of the building hoping to live through the terrible events going on above ground.
The "survivors" are an eclectic mix of people, a young couple, a mother and her preteen daughter, two brothers and a shy reclusive man.
Very quickly, the caretaker (Biehn) tries to assert his dominance over the group, but ultimately fails due to the combined efforts and wills of the younger men.
Shortly after they lock themselves in, the shelter is invaded by masked soldiers of indeterminate origin (it is never explained who these soldiers are) who kidnap Wendis (Arquette) daughter. the survivors successfully manage to repulse the invaders, killing one of them and taking some of their weapons. One of the men, Josh, volunteers to dress in the dead soldiers uniform and go outside to see if he can find a way for them all to escape, when he does so, he instead finds that the outside is a series of plastic sheeting corridors, which lead to some sort of laboratory, in which he finds Wendis daughter seemingly having medical experiments being performed on her, as well as other children all locked in deep freeze units. His disguise is rumbled quickly by one of the other soldiers within the bizarre complex and he beats a hasty retreat back to the shelter, killing some of the soldiers as he flees.
After he returns, the soldiers weld the metal door of the shelter shut, thus preventing their escape.

Resigning themselves to being trapped within the small basement shelter, the survivors begin to lose hope, and over time, begin turning somewhat insane.
Firstly, after arguments over food and supplies begin breaking out, the survivors find that the caretaker has a secret room which is crammed full of food and clean drinking water, his punishment for not revealing this, as well as for killing one of their number in "self defence" is a lengthy torture session, carried out by Bobby and Josh, who emerge as the dominant members of the group, followed by him being tied to a chair and left to starve in a back room.
Bobby also begins physically and sexually abusing Wendi, as she has become completely apathetic upon learning her daughter is dead, even going so far as to tell Eva, the only other female survivor, that she should begin allowing the men to have sex with her on a regular basis in order to make themselves all feel better.
As time passes, Bobby and Josh become degenerates, and begin indulging in various bizarre sexual rituals, while all the time very obviously suffering from the early stages of radiation poisoning, for example, Bobby begins wearing Wendis clothes and make up, while Wendi is usually seen wearing only a dressing gown or makeshift clothes made from gaffer tape.
Eva and Adrien try and figure out another way to escape, and their breakthrough comes when the caretaker reveals that they could escape by swimming through the septic tank and going out through the sewers.
Things come to a head when it is discovered that Bobby and/or Josh have killed Wendi in the process of abusing her, and open fighting breaks out.
The caretaker reveals he has another gun hidden in his safe room and it ends up getting used to kill Bobby, but then Josh immolates himself, leaving Adrien and the caretaker scrambling to escape the flames, while Eva locks them out of the toilet, and, taking the dead soldiers NBC suit earlier worn by Josh, she escapes through the sewers, leaving the other two men to be burned to death.

The ending of the film is somewhat depressing, as all through the film Eva and Adrien struggle to maintain their relationship, but she happily abandons him when it looks like she might be killed, and the final scene shows her walking through a completely destroyed New York, whose streets are litters with the skeletons of people killed by nuclear blasts.

This isn't a bad film, but its really, really hard going in the middle, as the films subject matter is wholly dependant on character development, which fortunately, this film does really well.
This film will most certainly NOT appeal to all, especially those looking for action scenes etc or mystery, but its a nice enough film to get you thinking about human nature.

I give this film 6 megatons out of 10

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