The Divide (2012)
0/10 Bottom Dwellers
One of the absolute worst movies I have ever seen.
The Divide is about a group of tenants who hole up in their building’s fallout shelter when a nuclear terrorist attack levels New York City. With nowhere to go until the radioactive dust settles, the rations start depleting and everyone’s true colors start to show. The longer they stay down there, the more unlikely it is that they’ll be rescued, so the survivors start to turn on one another as civility and humanity make way for desperation and madness.
Usually when I watch movies, I tend to kick myself for trying to multitask from the couch instead of giving them my full attention like a good movie blogger should. Multitasking leads to missing a movie’s plot points, a vague sense of investment in characters and story, and in serious cases, swelling of the kidneys and liver. I’m usually pretty good about it, but what can I say, one does not simply get off the internet. Although on this rare occasion, I don’t think I could have justified the two hours that I sacrificed on this travesty had I not had been using it as a distraction for the several hundred envelopes I had to seal.
Thank God for those envelopes, because if I had given The Divide 100% of my conscious mind, I truly wonder if I would have made it to the end. And thus having made it to the end, I now have the pleasure of telling you all what it feels like to take a bullet, a bullet that probably wasn’t heading your way anyhow. Oh happy day.
The biggest things this movie has going for it is a good title and a genuinely intriguing premise. I’m all for movies where the apocalypse is involved, and a fallout shelter is an awesome setting for just about any story. For example, Sex and the City 2: would have been way better in a fallout shelter, infinitely better if the girls hadn’t made it inside. So going off the premise, there’s definitely some potential here, and that, dear readers, is the tale of how I got suckered.
Because, unfortunately, a good title and an intriguing premise are all this movie has going for it.
First, there’s the script by first-timers Karl Mueller and Eron Sheean, and I can’t help but wonder if they’ve ever heard people talk before. If I were a betting man, I’d bet it all on “NO.” Within the first five minutes of hearing their characters speak, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Mueller and Sheean are in fact deaf, mute shut-ins who learned sign language from The Jerky Boys. I really can’t think of another explanation for the what comes out of the mouths of these characters. They just don’t say things that human beings say, and not only do they swear for no reason, but they swear all the freakin’ time. It never works, it starts right away, and it only gets more abrasive with time.
Adding to the limited and entirely unbelievable vocabulary of these individuals, there’s also no rhyme or reason as to why they act the way they do. This could have been a great opportunity to create a character study of what desperate people do in the most desperate of circumstances. That’s what was so great about Contagion, the way covered all the bases and capitalized on the ways real people would react to a real-life catastrophe. Instead of doing that, The Divide devolves into nonsense for the sake of nonsense and stays the course right on through to the end.
The only thing human about these survivors is that they look the part. Other than that, they might as well be aliens wearing people suits. Like Vincent D’Onofrio in Men in Black, only worse.
From the minute you meet these folks, you’ll know how they’re storylines are gonna play out. Some of them stay good, some of them go bad, some try to stay out of it, some have ulterior motives. You know the drill. What is unexpected is when some of them turn into sex slaves, and others start shaving their bodies and dressing like Marilyn Manson roadies for reasons unknown. I’m sure there was a way to build up these characters so that these developments would make some kind of sense, but alas, that’s not how this plays out. Like I said, it is nonsense for the sake of nonsense and the only semblance of an explanation that we’re kind of given is that this is what people do when the world goes boom.
As a result of all that horse shit character development, there is no way to invest in these people, to make us care in the slightest about who lives or dies. Even the main character – if you could call her that – a shell of a girl who doesn’t do much but hang out like a mannequin for two hours. Call me crazy, but creating characters that the audience can root for/against seems like a pretty crucial step when you’re dealing with THE APOCALYPSE.
I’ve never been in a situation like this, but I’m pretty damn sure that this isn’t how it would go down. Not even New Yorkers would pull shit like this. Just an exercise in the bizarre trying to pawn itself off as realistic, despite bearing no resemblance to real human beings outside of the Jeffrey Dahmer crowd.
And then theres the acting, and the acting is just horrendous, primarily for all the reasons I’ve already named. A lot of these folks are no-namers who are far more forgettable than they are bad actors, but then there’s Michael Biehn, Rosanna Arquette, and Milo Ventimiglia. I could care less about Arquette and Ventimiglia, they’re both awful in this and that’s no skin off my back, but I like Michael Biehn. Granted, there’s only so much you can do when your director tells you to “act grumpy and constipated” all the time, so you gotta believe he was fighting a losing battle from the start. Still though, this just wasn’t his movie. This did not need to be added to his already obscure resume’. He was Kyle-effing-Reese for chrissakes. Biehn deserves better.
It’s been a long time since I’ve had to shit all over a movie like this, but it’s also been a long time since I’ve had to give out a null Verdict. If it’s any indication of what we’re dealing with here, the last movie that earned the big donut was Grown Ups. Serenity now.
If The Divide hadn’t taken itself so seriously or had tried to be something more than just apocalyptic torture porn, it would have at least nabbed a 1. But being that it fails so miserably at saying anything that could be considered meaningful or having a purpose for existing, there was only room to fail. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you get movies that are so bad they’re good, but if you’re not, you get a movie like this. There is not a single redeeming quality about The Divide, and that is quite a feat in itself. But if you’ve ever wondered what The Lord of Flies would look like as a snuff film, well hey, this is your lucky day.
Although it sure made sealing envelopes feel like a 24-hour rave party.