Movies about the end of the world usually feature everyday citizens rising above challenges and protecting others. The Divide doesn’t follow this standard cinematic formula. In this bleak and extremely disturbing film, the characters fall deep into dark psychotic places. The Divide is psychological thriller that explores the human mind and how far people will go when rules and ideas of normalcy no longer apply.
The film begins with a nuclear attack on New York City. In the absolute chaos created by the falling bombs, a small group of people make it into the basement of an apartment building. The basement actually serves as a fallout shelter and the building’s superintendent Mickey (Michael Biehn) is obviously in charge. The other survivors are a random bunch of people all with different personalities and backgrounds forced into this unfortunate situation. They are basically locked in this dark, gloomy shelter, an enclosed depressing chamber with no natural light.
As time goes by, the people in the shelter form certain cliques and alliances. Cabin fever also sets in and eventually leads to insanity. Dwindling food and water supplies also cause certain inhabitants of the shelter to lash out violently in an almost Lord of the Flies-like style. The politics of the shelter basically get reduced to whoever is strongest (mentally and physically) gets to rule. Leadership soon morphs from whoever is most intelligent and practical to whoever is most intimidating and psychotic. Shelter dwellers Josh (Milo Ventimiglia) and Bobby (Michael Eklund) fit this description and soon they are running the show with demented fists.
Since The Divide takes place primarily in an underground bunker, the main highlights of the film are simply the script and the acting. The actors and the script are the pulse of the movie and their performances and how they deliver their lines are what truly give the film its soul. Lauren German (Hostel: Part II) stars as Eva, the voice of reason and one of the only members of the group who is aware that insanity is sweeping the bunker. Eva is a strong and intelligent woman and wants peace and order in a world filled with chaos. Milo Ventimiglia’s (Heroes) portrayal of Josh is sick, twisted and downright psychotic. He is scary and unpredictable. The same can also be said about Michael Eklund’s (Watchmen) Bobby who acts as Josh’s “brother”. Throughout the course of the film, the two men gradually lose their minds and the results get pretty scary.
Michael Biehn (The Terminator) plays building superintendent Mickey, a gruff survivalist who built the fallout shelter himself. He is prepared for a disaster and serves as a temporary group leader. That is until bad stuff happens. Rosanna Arquette (Pulp Fiction) rounds out the cast as Marilyn, a middle-aged woman who has little control of her emotions. Every scene that she is in is full of raw intensity and astonishing acting.
Director Xavier Gens (Hitman) has done an expert job here of generating a strong sense of claustrophobia and hopelessness. The set is no bigger than a hallway and a few rooms plus the lightning is very dim. The close quarters coupled with the minimal light could drive anyone nuts.
The Divide was written by Karl Mueller and Eron Sheean and they have definitely captured the essence of feeling trapped in a confined space. Because of the set’s small size, I have to say that I feel The Divide would make a pretty decent play. There are about three main components of this film and they are direction, writing and acting. These three things are definitely what help push the movie forward.
Many movies today feature robots, superheroes and animated characters. The Divide is much different. It is a film that deals with human beings and the relationships between said human beings. Emotions such as fear and anger flow through this film like a river. The movie might be a slight commentary on terrorism but I think it’s more of a human drama focusing on the relationships between people who are trying to survive in the wake of absolute disaster.