Nukes are raining down over New York City forcing a group of tenants living in a rundown apartment complex to gather in the basement where the building superintendant has created a bomb shelter of sorts. Limited supplies, poisoned air and paranoia are only the beginning of their problems as the situation turns sour.
Post apocalyptic films are an acquired taste, especially depending on which way they go. Personally I dig them when they're in the vein of MAD MAX, THE BOOK OF ELI, THE POSTMAN and DOOMSDAY. I don't mind gory, explicit action but the story's got to have a silver lining when it comes to entertainment value and the tone has to rise up from the dank, dreary darkness for air once in awhile. THE ROAD for example, was far too depressing (I would never watch it again) and though THE DIVIDE is equally daunting, it's intent is clear...to show us just how depraved, disturbed and utterly evil people can be when no one's looking and there's nothing to lose.
I was anxious to see this partly because I like Xavier Gens' take on HITMAN, no it wasn't perfect but it certainly wasn't the worst game to movie translation, but mostly because I'm a huge Michael Biehn fan. Jimmy O's interview with Biehn when the movie came out was an interesting piece, he said that the actors actually stayed in character and kept themselves away from the one another to help build the intensity. I'm not sure how far they pushed it off screen but hot damn could you ever cut the tension in the room on screen. Forget claustrophobia, as bad as confined spaces can be, imagine the world's on fire above you and the air will eventually kill you if you're resources don't run out first. This thing makes LORD OF THE FLIES look like an island paradise vacation.
Biehn's superintendant persona Mickey is an angry, paranoid recluse whose got his basement set up for this type of scenario. He reluctantly lets the others in, but he's a survivalist as much as he's a realist and I didn't fault him for anything he said or did (he was a tad too racist though, his hatred and distrust toward Delvin felt forced and unbelievable considering) . As a matter a fact, naturally with a room of characters in this situation there's bound to be many "character moments" you shake your head at or disagree with. Rosanna Arquette's character (Marilyn) was the worst. It's hard to not give anything away here but I really didn't like where she went. To be honest, none of these characters were all that likeable, especially Eva. Nobody needs a goody-goody in this situation, but at the same time, Milo Ventimiglia and Michael Eklund were superb as two friends who spiral off the deep end into shear madness. I'm not celebrating or condoning their actions but I'll say this, their behavior is so believable it's petrifying.
THE DIVIDE is a brutally honest approach to a tragically desperate situation I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. Where this film loses points however is with the many paths that lead nowhere. First off there's the event itself. I don't need to know who pushed what button, but the door to the basement is breached and people come busting in with guns and spacesuits. Again, not to spoil anything, but someone briefly gets outside the door to find it quarantined and tunneled together leading to a hub where they find people in incubating tubes amongst other things. This was where the film got interesting but they did nothing with it and instead turned back inward resulting in murder, rape and many other acts of a depraved nature. Beyond all that, I didn't care for the ending, specifically where the characters end up but also, the "leave it to your imagination" avenue. No, I wasn't expecting sunshine and rainbows or NPH to swoop down on a flying unicorn, but I was hoping for more than I got.