The Divide review

It opens with fireballs erupting over New York. A group of people fleeing the resulting firestorm manage to force their way into a basement overpowering the super before a nuclear strike apparently brings down the building on top of them. The group is a basic social cross section, but as the gravity of the situation takes hold along with the effects of radiation poisoning the group begins to form factions and the thin veneer of civilisation is stripped away. Hopes of escape are dashed when armoured hi-tech soldiers attack the group and weld the basement door shut. Without hope of escape some of the survivors go violently insane.

Developing slowly over a generous running time, director Xens (one of the recent wave of French genre extremists and director of Frontiers) mostly confines the action to the dank basement but creates a film of extreme visual flair. It's a pleasure to see both James Cameron regular Michael Biehn and Rosanna Arquette in a substantial roles. Heroes' star Ventimiglia shatters his TV nice guy image, but acting honours go to the less well known Eklund who goes quite spectacularly loopy by the film's close.

This is an extremely pessimistic film, presenting a very dark view of human nature in which the strong prey on the weak, and even the best of people ultimately seek to preserve their own interests at the expense of others. Although not quite as graphic as Xen's horror film Frontiers, The Divide features distressing scenes, including sexual violence, and refuses to be a cathartic experience.

For some viewers this will be too dark, too despairing and too cynical to be palatable but for me it was a thrilling vicarious examination of the very worst of human nature reminiscent of the withering worldview of Henri-Georges Clouzot of Werner Herzog, but presented as a science fiction film.

Thought provoking and exciting, but guaranteed to ruin your day, The Divide comes highly  recommended.

Official Site
The Divide at IMDb

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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