(Panic Fest) Movie Review The New End
A vicious dystopian nightmare, The New End shows the cruelty of powerful men and the fragility of the pure. It is a beautiful, brutal fable.
From start to finish, The New End is unlike any other horror or post-apocalyptic film you’ve seen. The story is told through the lens of the Observer, a man with flaws equal to the horribleness of the land he lives in. He has done things to survive that haunt him. Rather than taking the scenic route through this destroyed land, the Observer disobeys the documentarians’ rule of no interference. In doing so, he causes more pain on those he may have cared the most for.
Set in an unknown close future, the film takes a look at human nature and the beast that lay inside us. With a few nods towards the Lord of the Flies, men are, in large part, in charge of this desolate world. Although admittedly, that is because of a large scale disease that has killed the majority of humans on earth. In the aftermath of that event, the world is a violent, burnt out place of depravity. It also seems to be lacking women. That makes the few that exist very vulnerable.
Soon after meeting the Observer, a quick voice over tells of four other groups. The Doctor, who hands out “happy pills” to his protectors. The Warlord, who’s the Doctor’s mafia-like overseer. The Healer and his apprentice, and finally the Mother and Daughter. Each group is wrought with their own problems and either intentional or by accident, each is brought together thanks to the Observer. His purpose in life is to make the world a kinder place. What he has to do to exist does not often line up with that reality.
The world is very male-centric similar in tone and concept as The Handmaid’s Tale. It is a place where men in power keep it at all costs. The weak are used and abused. It is a scary place for anyone without allegiances. When the Daughter’s Mother falls into a vegetative state he seeks help from the Doctor. That singular decision alters her sheltered life forever. The Healer and his apprentice make a similar decision that although changes the outcome of the world at large is detrimental to the Healer.
The New End is a stark place. It is a land of harsh realities and even harsher inhabitants. The Mother and Daughter choose to live isolated because of past events that have shaped the Mother into a terrified person, consumed with nightmares. She knows all too well the danger men pose. By the end, the Daughter learns what her Mother has always known, but might also find hope in the pain.
Director Leonel Dietsche knows how to drive tension with panning shots of beautiful but stark nature and lingering close-ups. The latter is so unsettling you want to look away but can’t. One particularly disquieting scene lovingly highlights a pulsing heartbeat. Creative use of light and shadow is used to highlight both the devastation of the story and the counterplay of innocence and evil. Several standout performances complete the hellscape. Including Georg Friedrich(The Healer) who brings a pathos to The Healer that grounds the possible supernaturalness of his talents. Sylvester Groth(The Doctor) gives a gutsy performance as a hideous man who takes advantage of people for pleasure.
The New End is a short film clocking in at just under an hour and ten minutes. Although nihilistic, the film is injected with a brief glimmer of hope as the Observer’s final narration completes the story. The credits roll on an ambiguous conclusion. You want things to be better. Unfortunately, you never know if they do get better. Ultimately it is up to the viewer to decide what they believe and that is the brilliance of this film. Hope and death coexist in this new world.
Its the Schrödinger’s cat of post-apocalyptic films.
This is a dark movie that will not be for everyone. If end of the world fairy tales are your thing, guard your heart and watch with an open mind. It is an interesting tale of the evils of men and the corruption of the pure. With intense sexual undertones, the movie does an excellent job of retelling the classic damsel in distress A fantastic film worth the watch (although probably not with a family) and one you won’t soon forget. Catch up on all our Panic Fest coverage here.
As the Television Editor for Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre tv. I grew up with old school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. When I’m not watching and writing about my favorite movies and series, I’m introducing my family to the wonderful world of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. My only regret, there is not enough time in the day to watch everything.