End of the Line (2007) Review

It’s not every day that you get to watch a religious fanaticism horror, nor do you get to experience a horror movie that’s actually scary. End of the Line is both. The cherry on top is that this movie was produced on a modest budget, which just goes to show that you don’t need a lot of money to turn out a great product provided you set realistic goals. While not a perfect movie, End of the Line gives audiences their money’s worth by delivering scares on many levels and even managing a truly interesting twist at the end that somehow doesn’t beg to be questioned.

Karen (Ilona Elkin) is a nurse working a late shift at the hospital on the day that a former patient committed suicide by jumping in front of a subway train. Apart from having terrible nightmares of eyeless and mouth-less people, Karen also appears to suffer from sporadic hallucinations. On her way home, while waiting alone for the subway train, she sees the bloody corpse of her ex-patient on the tracks. Fortunately, Karen runs into Mike (Nicolas Wright) who keeps her company when they board. Unfortunately for both of them, several members of a cult-like global Christian group are on board as well, which would typically be fine, except that they receive a message on their pagers that the apocalypse is beginning.  This revelation puts them all in soul-saving mode, forcing them to kill as many people as possible to rescue them from what they believe is the impending demon invasion. Now Karen, Mike and a handful of passengers must escape the subway and reach the surface before their souls are “saved.”

Working within their budget, the filmmakers have really achieved a lot with End of the Line. They’ve kept the majority of the film within the subway tunnels, but it never feels contrived. More importantly, they were also able to pepper a handful of different sets throughout that were completely believable within the context of the film. The visual effects also look great, towering above the cheap makeup one will find in most low-budget horrors and even in some major motion pictures.

End of the Line also provides the requisite scares that audiences are looking for and some they weren’t expecting. There’s plenty of blood and people rushing into frame with the appropriate accompanying stinger, but there’s also terror that’s more disquieting than startling. The members of the cult play their parts very well and are utterly convincing as true-believers. So when they’re relentless stabbing one woman while smiling compassionately and uttering, “Jesus loves you,” viewers can’t help but feel the threat leap out of the movie and into their lives, considering that religious fanaticism – of all denominations – is very real.

The acting includes various levels of “good enough.” No one in particular really stands out and it’s difficult to really appreciate anyone’s performance considering the material. The range of acting required isn’t very broad when the majority of the characters are busy running around killing each other. To the cast’s credit, however, no one performed terribly.

The only artistic complaint I have with End of the Line is with the choice to include supernatural elements that have nothing to do with the plot – at least they’re never explained satisfactorily. Early in the film, when the woman jumps in front of the subway train, she sees a man standing on the same platform, facing away from her. Every time she looks over he gets closer and closer, but still facing away. Finally, when he’s within striking distance, he turns around only to reveal – Oh no! – his face is covered with maggots, scaring the woman into jumping to her death. Then later, this same woman is seen standing outside the subway train, looking at Karen. These facets of the film seem totally unrelated to the story proper even with the halfhearted explanation halfway through and their inclusion gave the impression of pandering to the Japanese horror-import crowd.

To be really nitpicky, there’s also a grainy low-light scene that will instantly take most viewers out of the story, which is a shame because the dialog during that scene adds to the twist at the end. Overall, however, End of the Line manages to be greater than the sum of its parts and should leave audiences satisfied.