out of Five
Running time: 100
Stylishly directed and featuring some impressively full-on performances, The Divide's commitment to all-out nihilism is intriguing, but the relentless nastiness takes its toll after a while and may prove too much for some tastes.
What's it all about?
Directed by Xavier Gens (Hitman), The Divide leaps straight into its premise and opens with a nuclear attack on New York. The panicked residents of a building rush downstairs and eight of them (including Lauren German as Eva, Milo Ventimiglia as Josh, Michael Eklund as Bobby, Rosanna Arquette as Marilyn, Ashton Holmes as Adrien and Courtney B. Vance as Delvin) end up trapped in the basement with building supervisor Mickey (Michael Biehn), who happens to have squirrelled away a few supplies for just such an occasion.
Some time later, armed goons in contamination suits burst in and snatch Marilyn's young daughter Wendi (Abbey Thickson) before welding the door shut, trapping the residents permanently. With no possibility of escape, the group quickly succumb to their baser instincts, with horrifying results.
The performances are impressively full-on, with the cast clearly encouraged to go as nuts as possible – the production was apparently filmed chronologically in the hopes that some crazy improv might throw up something great, which means the Making Of is going to be something of a Must-See. Stand-outs include Lauren German (from Hostel: Part II) as the ostensible heroine, Eva (we first see the bombs falling via a reflection in her eyes), Michael Biehn on enjoyably twitchy form as Mickey and Michael Eklund as power-seizing sleazebag Bobby.
On top of that, the film is stylishly shot by cinematographer Laurent Bares (presumably a huge fan of the colour yellow) and Gens makes a virtue of his single setting, ramping up the sweaty claustrophobia and tension as you wait to see which horrible thing will happen next (you never have to wait long).
The script's commitment to all-out nihilism is undoubtedly impressive, but it's also relentlessly bleak, piling on the rape, torture and sickening violence and leaving you with nowhere to go and no-one to care about. It's also disturbingly misogynistic, particularly in the treatment of Marilyn, who effectively becomes Josh and Bobby's sex slave. You will also never look at a can of baked beans in quite the same way again.
The Divide is extremely nasty and relentlessly bleak but it's worth seeing if you like that sort of thing.