A nasty and nihilistic portrait of rapid decline of civilisation
Rarely will you see a film as nasty and nihilistic as Xavier Gens’ The Divide. The Frenchman scored a cult hit with 2007’s Frontier(s) before making his first foray into the studio system with the by numbers video game adaptation Hitman. Like that film, The Divide is English-language, though infinitely more bleak as it depicts the rapid decline of civilisation in the aftermath of a nuclear attack.
After Manhattan is subjected to a missile strike by unknown assailants, eight apartment block residents (including Heroes star Milo Ventimiglia and Rosanna Arquette) seek shelter in the basement-home belonging to the building’s janitor (Michael Biehn). Luckily, he’s kitted it out for just such an occurrence. But with food and water in short supply, this group get a serious bout of cabin fever.
Think Lord of the Flies, with lashings of torture, rape and battery, as humanity all but evaporates. Frankly, some of it is stomach-churning. But Gens and his actors stick to their task grimly, and the film boasts some stunning images – none more than the final shot, which is almost worth enduring what goes before it.
Selected release from Fri 20 April.