Directed by Xavier Gens (Hitman) and written by Karl Mueller and Eron Sheean, The Divide stars Michael Biehn, Milo Ventimiglia, Rosanna Arquette, Lauren German, Courtney B. Vance, Michael Eklund, Ashton Holmes, Iván González and Abbey Thickson as Wendi.
The film opens with German looking out a tall rise building’s stairwell window watching things that are flying through the air and landing on the ground, exploding. A crowd of people are on the stairwell and they are all rushing to get out of the building.
Seven of this “crowd” make it to the basement door which is being closed by Mickey (Biehn). He yells that there is no more room, but the seven survivors push their way in. Mickey then locks the door.
Mickey explains that he is in charge and they need to follow his orders if they want to survive. When the group first arrive they are distracted by noises outside the door. Soon after a group of men in bio-hazard suits force their way into the basement.
They are armed and they focus on Wendi (Thickson) and take her forcibly from her mother Marilyn (Arquette). After two of the men leave with the now inoculated girl in a bag the remaining men go through the basement to kill the rest of the group. Devlin (Vance) beats one to death with a steel pipe and Mickey stabs the other to death. Collecting their guns, Mickey again asserts his leadership role.
Josh (Ventimilgia), aided by Bobby (Eklund) and Adrien (Holmes) puts on one of the bio-hazard suits and goes out the door to see what is going on. When he gets outside he finds that their building is attached to a sealed tunnel which leads to a lab. There he finds Wendi stored behind a closed-door with a glass window on it and an air tube taped to her mouth.
Josh is spotted as an outsider and has to flee; he shoots two of the other men in the bio-suits, drops his gun and runs back to the basement. Once he gets inside, the people outside the basement weld the door shut. Now that the group are sealed in, the already strained relationship in this disparate group of survivors falls apart.
Mistrust, paranoia, and psychosis are the rule of the day and there is a race to see who will die from radiation poisoning and who will die of violence instigated by each other.
Xavier Gens has started the film in a hurry. The bombs dropping, the mass panic, the people desperate to save themselves and their loved ones all happen quickly. So fast, in fact, that when the few people make it into the basement we are not sure who they are.
A nuclear holocaust, The Divide tells us, makes for strange bedfellows (or basement buddies) and just as in real life, we don’t know who we’ll be sharing that “last” shelter with or if we’ll even get along with them or like them. In keeping with the theme of strangers “helping” strangers, we know very little about any of the survivors.
In this little scenario, the apocalypse has put everyone under the care of the building superintendent, Mickey. He is not pleased to see these folks encroach on his safe haven. Obviously a bit of a “survivalist” Mickey, it seems, has been preparing for this kind of thing since at least 9-11.
Throughout the course of this film we are privy to murder, rape, attempted rape, torture and a lot of tension and violence. Watching this film may make you want to make sure you are armed when you find that little hidey-hole to hunker down in; especially if you have to share it with a group like this one.
This is a thought-provoking film. It asks the viewer to think about how far they would go to save themselves or a loved one. It touches lightly on taboo subjects and just how much we don’t trust strangers.
Gens tells us that not getting turned into an instant crispy critter might actually be worse than dying in the initial conflagration. Like rats that become too crowded in lab experiments, the occupants of the basement turn on each other. It doesn’t help that one (Marilyn) lost the plot when she lost her daughter and that Bobby and Josh are two giant ass-holes on legs.
The two men are as full of attitude as you can possibly be and not be in prison. You get the feeling that these two had probably been in the middle of knocking over the local 7-11 when the bombs began dropping.
Milo Ventimilgia seems to be making a “new” career of playing downright nasty characters. His Josh is the polar opposite of his nurse-turned-super-hero, Peter Patrelli in TV’s Heroes. He was a pretty unpleasant chap in the 2008 film Pathology and he is even more despicable in The Divide.
Michael Biehn does his usual good job and it was especially nice to see Rosanne Arquette again. The last thing I’d seen her in was Pulp Fiction and while I’m sure she has been busy, I just haven’t seen her on-screen for ages. I’ve always had a bit of a crush on Ms Arquette; ever since I saw her in Desperately Seeking Susan.
Everyone does a great job in the film and the whole thing looks like it should. In case you were wondering the apocalypse will be dark, dank, and dirty. Food will be in short supply and you probably will not like the folks you wind up with. The movie is grim and utterly devoid of humour; which, if you think about, probably would not exist in great abundance.
Checking on IMDb, they gave it a 5.8%. I’m not arguing that this figure is wrong, but despite its dirty message, I found that it was a difficult film to watch. The only character I actually felt sorry for was Arquette’s, but that did not last long; once she ventured off into the darker reaches of her mind, I could not maintain my sympathy.
Lauren German as Eva was the only other female in the group and she seemed too wishy-washy and self-centred for me to really connect with and while I did not “like” Biehn’s character I could at least understand where he was coming from.
I watched this on Netflix and that is just what I’d recommend anyone else do. A more depressing and disturbing take on surviving a nuclear holocaust might be out there, but if so, I haven’t seen it. Watching the film’s descent into claustrophobic chaos is like watching a slow filthy trolley on its way to hell.
My one big tip about watching this movie is if you aren’t in a good mood don’t watch it. I think if you were depressed before the film started you might just need therapy after watching this downbeat film.
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