Subdued take on Earth's final days

Apocalyptic films, whether they’re about alien invasions, global disasters or contagious viruses, are generally high on effects and explosions, and thin on characters. The End (titled Fin in country of origin Spain) is quite the opposite, an apocalyptic movie without the song and dance, just regular people trying to cope with the sudden and inexplicable end of humanity. It’s quiet, pensive, and intriguing, and leaves a lot to the imagination.

Together to the end: [left] Clara Loga, Maribel Verdu (centre) and Daniel Grao.

Together to the end: [left] Clara Loga, Maribel Verdu (centre) and Daniel Grao.

On a hot Spanish summer’s day, a group of friends reunite at a mountain farmhouse after 20 years. Main character Felix introduces ‘girlfriend’ Eva to the party – Maribel (Maribel Verdú, Pan’s Labyrinth) is the sweetheart, Rafa is complicated, Sara is likened to Mother Teresa, Sergio is the artist, Hugo is the playboy and Cova is his long-suffering wife. Another member of the old group, Angel, is shrouded in mystery, and when he fails to come to the reunion, the others are reluctant to talk about him and the events of the last time they were all together.s tend to be large in scope and aracters. Whether it' alien

As the group drink and reminisce and the night wears on, the jovial atmosphere loses its levity and becomes increasingly hostile. The midnight sky is suddenly illuminated by a mysterious force as years of tension bubbles to the surface. They were expecting to see a meteor shower, but what they witness is something else entirely.

The characters soon discover that all of their mod-cons have ceased to function – phones are all out of battery, cars cannot be unlocked or started, the lights are all out. Eerily, every clock and watch is frozen at 12:20, the exact time the night sky glowed a brilliant orange.

The group awaken in the morning to find that one among them has vanished without a trace. They leave on foot to search for help, but there is nobody around. Houses and campsites have beenthem has left without a trace. They leave on foot to search for help, but there is nobody around. abandoned, food still on the table. With no one in sight, and nothing working, the group is forced into a primitive state. Humanity is reduced to its most basic form. Soon, another, and another of the group go missing as they trek to reach the city, like an apocalyptic game of ten little Indians.

The strength of The End lies not in what the audience sees, but in what it doesn’t. The film, from director Jorge Torregrossa and The Impossible screenwriter Sergio Sánchez, shows the kind of remarkable filmic restraint rarely found in Hollywood, and proves the that the things left unseen and unexplained are often the most frightening. No explanation of the events that unfold in the film is provided, and none is needed.

The End is a refreshingly quiet movie with a score that does not overpower or charge a scene, but complement it subtly. There are beautiful sweeping shots of the Spanish mountains that look as though they have been lifted straight from Peter Jackson’s Middle Earth, though thankfully the film does not share the Lord of the Rings films’ overlong running time, coming in at a brisk 88 minutes.

The film’s second act tonally feels a lot like the first season of Lost, as a group of ordinary people traverse mountains to find help and attempt to figure out what has happened to them. Based on the debut novel, Fin, by Spanish author David Monteagudo, The End is character-driven, and every member of the party feels like a real person, with real emotions and conflicts. The dialogue is insightful, with characters examining the choices they’ve made and the direction of their lives as they near their inevitable disappearance.

The performances are all top-notch, but Maribel Verdú is the standout, showing both strength and vulnerability and stealing every scene she’s in. Newcomer Clara Loga is also a gem as Eva, though her uncanny resemblance to Kardashian sister Kendall Jenner may be disconcerting for viewers familiar with the reality TV family.

The film’s ending is cathartic, and contains The End’s most memorable sequence, as well as a stunningly gorgeous city empty of human souls. The key themes of the film are conveyed in a simple exchange between Felix and Eva in the final minutes, when Felix philosophically suggests “maybe we only exist as long as there’s someone watching us”.

For keen-eyed viewers, there is considerable foreshadowing at the very beginning of the film, with most of the events of the plot inventively hinted at within the first five minutes.

The End is a thoroughly realistic apocalypse film. It is shot naturally, devoid of unnecessary explosions and visual effects, and full of a range of human emotions: confusion, grief, fear, relief, acceptance. There final minutes. he plot inventively hine are no world-saving heroics, no martyrs, no moral sacrifices. It explores, purely and simply, normal, everyday people quietly trying to navigate an unexpected situation without any clues or indication of a light at the end of the tunnel.

The End is available to rent or buy on DVD and digitally now and is rated M.


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