There are few concepts as frightening as Armageddon, yet it remains a somewhat untapped source for horror, as there have been few films that have addressed the theme of Armageddon effectively (the most notable exceptions are George Romero's horror masterpieces Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead). End of the Line tries to address the theme at first and gets off to a strong start yet in the end settles into a routine survival horror plot, rather than taking a chance and exploring the theme of Armageddon and religious zealotry in a unique, more creative way.
The story: A young nurse named Karen (Ilona Elkin) boards the subway, headed home from work, only to find that the train has been taken over by a religious cult that believes Armageddon has begun and that the only way to save the souls of the living is to kill them. The movie soon settles into survival horror. Karen and a small, disparate group of survivors try to fight their way through the subway tunnel and find the exit to the surface, while the cult hunts and "saves" them, one by one.
Besides settling into a routine story, the main problem with the film is the way that it handles the cult. For one thing, their weapon of choice - a large cross that conceals a dagger - is ridiculous rather than menacing. It should have been much easier to fight off cult members holding such weapons than the movie allows (if the cult members had been given guns, they would have seemed much more frightening and realistic).
Second, the leader of the cult, seen in a brief shot on a TV in the control room of the subway, comes off as an over-the-top, Jimmy Swaggart-type televangelist, which makes it rather hard to believe that he would have an army of fanatical followers large enough to bring about such social chaos.
Third, the film strongly implies that the cult is huge, yet it seems that all key members of the cult (save for the leader) are down in a subway determined to chase down 10 or so survivors. If they are truly motivated to "save" as many souls as possible, wouldn't they be in a place much denser with people than a subway station late at night? Why not in a stadium, or even a hotel?
Another concern is the ending (which is praised in some other reviews). While it does pack a jolt, it also raises a troubling question that somewhat pulls the film apart: the film has strongly anti-religion overtones (supported by commentary in the making-of featurette where some of the cast and crew strongly proclaim that they are non-believers), yet does the ending somewhat suggest that the cult was actually right all along?
Most of the actors are competent and do what they can with the routine aspects of the script. However, there is one terrific performance in the film: Robin Wilcock as Patrick, a renegade member of the cult. Patrick, a cynic and would-be rapist, is no longer a true believer in the cult but uses his status within the cult to feed his homicidal urges. Wilcock makes Patrick both scary and loathsome. He would probably make a great villain in a mainstream film if given a chance.
End of the Line has a terrific, potentially frightening premise that it unfortunately does not explore fully, nor does it try to explore the many questions the themes as seen in the film could raise. Instead, it settles into a routine seen too many times in horror movies, in which the dwindling pack of survivors keeps running into the seemingly same knife-welding cult members again and again. End of the Line, in short, works a routine survival horror film but had the potential to be much more.
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