Movies centering around an apocalypse of some sort are a dime a dozen. Every year there’s always a handful of films that come out within this genre, as well as plenty of televisions shows spanning every network and streaming service. While there are standouts such as 28 Days Later, Mad Max: Fury Road, and The Walking Dead, nothing is particularly unique about these movies/tv shows anymore. So, how did 2011’s The Divide stack up? Spoilers ahead!
Like most heart-racing, horror films, The Divide starts off with a nuclear attack on New York City, forcing tenants of an apartment building to rush towards the basement to find shelter. Eight people and their cankerous landlord seal off the door to his bomb shelter, trapping them inside and essentially sealing the fate for those outside. Like the tagline of the movie says, “the lucky ones died in the blast”, as we the viewers and the characters find out life in a basement is not all it’s cracked up the be.
You can kind of see where everything is going. As multiple people, all with clashing personalities; are stuck together in an extremely grim and stressful situations, tensions rise. Both them and us don’t know what is happening outside, who was the cause for the attack, or if there’s any help coming. I think that does help with the heart palpultating moments in the film, as we’re forced to wonder how we would react in the same situation.
The Divide is disturbing, depressing, and at some points, gross. There are some parts in the movie that don’t make a whole lot of sense, such as when the tenants are attacked by unknown soldiers in hazmat outfits. This early on scene could almost be thought to be the catalyst to the rest of the events in the movie; not only did these intruders take away the small child in the group, but also exposed them to radiation. We see how an event like this emotionally drains everyone, including the mother of the little girl, and how it causes stress on an already weakly linked relationship.
Unlike a lot of post-apolotolyptic movies, this is not an action film. There are no scenes like in Mad Max: Fury Road where we see a massive car chase accented by fire throwing heavy metal guitairists. The bread and butter of the movie is the progression of those locked away in this bomb shelter. Unlike in The Walking Dead, things go from civilized to horrific pretty fast.
Milo Ventimiglia and Michael Eklund play good friends Josh and Bobby. In the beginning of the movie, their friendship is fairly normal. They’re like any of guys you’d expect to see as neighbors in your apartment building. That quickly changes when not only is it obvious that Josh and Bobby are suffering from radiation poisoning, but when Bobby volunteers to hack up a dead body to prevent the stench from lingering any longer. Though he volunteered, it’s clear this effects Bobby and his sexual relationship with Marilyn (woman who lost her daughter) becomes extremely toxic and abusive.
Josh asserts his dominance over the group after usurping the landlord Mickey. From rationing the food and trying to force himself on Eva (Lauren German), the deteorating, once “normal” guy is a dangerous force to be reckon with. As unnerving, disturbing, and anything else you can use to describe these two, their sick, toxic codependency on each other is the main reason this movie worked as a horror film. While neither are entirely physically imposing, their messed up mental states and sporadic behavior makes them terrifying.
In a way, Josh and Bobby are also the realists in the group. There is no getting out of the bomb shelter, so the two are just going to ride out their illness until it consumes them completely. I honestly cannot rave enough about how well Eklund and Ventimiglia worked off of each other and I’d love to see them in another movie together.
Eventually, in the end, there’s no loyalty in the apocolypse. Right at the very end, Bobby turns on Josh and would have shot him, if it weren’t for Eva killing Bobby. While it seemed like everyone had accepted they’d die down in that basement, Eva say “f– it” and manages to get out, even though it killed her boyfriend and her friend. The end of the movie wasn’t a strong one, but still harrowing. The film shows us the stark reality that there is nothing left of New York City; it is a wasteland.
Over all, if you are looking for non-stop action, this isn’t the film for you. But, if you are ready for a raw, grim, realistic depiction of how it would be for survivors during a nuclear aftermath, this is a great movie to check out. It’s horrific, where its villains are not monsters, but people succumbing to their worst humanistic traits. It does not display anyone in a good light where everyone comes together in such a grim time, rather the deteroriation from civilized beings to something akin to animals, but worse.