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The Divide Review: Mayan End Of World Predictions At The Movies

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Now that the demise of planet earth this year has been announced according to Mayan calendar predictions, the first end of the world doomsday thriller has just arrived as well, wouldn't you know it. Not that those apocalyptic prophesies should necessarily send you racing to the theater to take in The Divide before your time may be up. Though a few striking incendiary visuals somehow compensate along the way, for a dreary and claustrophobic conception of mankind simultaneously undergoing genetic and moral extinction.

Way too abruptly cutting to the chase of a final nuclear bombardment of the world for no reason in particular, The Divide opens with a blast essentially canceling out New York City entirely, and sending the frenzied residents of one tenement to the dank cellar below. Where the none too thrilled building super Mickey (Michael Biehn), a self-styled survivalist, balks at this home invasion of the unwelcome intruders.

And whether or not the tenants each coughed up a few bucks for an annual Christmas tip for Mickey, seems to be beside the point. He's not only your typical cranky super, but also a paranoid loner who balks at any suggestion that he share for the long haul, the limited grub and winding corridors of his. underground hideaway with the demanding herd.

And with a relentlessly grueling scenario in which 'entertainment' is the least likely word that might apply to The Divide, the initially diplomatic but increasingly despondent denizens populating this doomed dungeon begin to turn on their reluctant host - incorrigibly misanthropic to begin with - and against each other. Including Milo Ventimiglia and Michael Eklund as brazen bullies into severing thumbs and cultivating sex slaves of both genders, and an unhinged Rosanna Arquette as a grieving mom who decides to turn ferocious party animal in anticipation of the end of time. But not before some government baddies inexplicably drop by in hazmat attire, and hermetically seal up the incidental cellar survivors for good.

French director Xavier Gens (Hitman) excels at injecting tension and gloom into his story, but with a sense of unrelieved literal and figurative descent into irreversible despair that proceeds for far too long. What's also missing is any context shedding light on what exactly went wrong, or who is responsible. Which might have been at least some food for thought among this starving band, in a bleak film drowning in its own jaded cynicism. Though if nothing else, the Mayans might very well be impressed with Xavier's uniquely fantastical warped visions, of a world going up in digitally stylish smoke.

Anchor Bay Entertainment
Unrated
2 1/2 stars

Prairie Miller is a NY multimedia journalist online, in print and on radio, and on WBAI/Pacifica National Radio Network's Arts Express. Read more reviews by Prairie Miller. Contact her through NewsBlaze.

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