Review: The Divide

Director:  Xavier Gens

Written by: Karl Mueller and Eron Sheean

Starring: Michael Biehn, Lauren German, Milo Ventimiglia, and Rosanna Arquette

Plot:  During a nuclear attack, a few residents of an apartment building are able to get to the building’s bomb shelter.


I think one of the only things worse than seeing a major American metropolitan area being attacked by a nuclear weapon is watching the crowd regress to primitive self-preservation due to panic. These are the two very scenes that start The Divide. They are very striking and frightening images and set the bar pretty high. In fact, those scenes are so terrifying that the movie can never quite match that level of horror.

Once the movie settles on the characters stuck in the bomb shelter, it relies pretty heavily on the talent of the actors. None of them are really up to the task except for maybe Lauren German, who plays a damned fine protagonist. The rest of the cast is pretty much great as the characters they are introduced as, but they drop the ball on the more destructive and difficult emotions that arise later in the movie, especially Milo Ventimiglia and Rosanna Arquette. Michael Ecklund comes close, but his psychosis tends to come off a little more entertaining and comedic than it should.

When they first enter the bomb shelter, they go through the stereotypical problems. Isolation. Claustrophobia. Rationing of a small food supply. These scare tactics work at first, but the sluggish pace makes the runtime feel like an eternity. The filmmakers struggle to give the characters enough problems. Around the middle of the movie, they try to introduce outside forces into the shelter. It sets up mystery and unanswered questions that could make for great science fiction and horror, but it is never revisited. The unknown and mysteriousness of those events could remain frightful if there wasn’t so much more movie left for the audience to ponder. The remainder of the movie is based on growing sexual tension and radiation sickness. It makes for some pretty disturbing and gruesome images, but the actors are not prepared to handle that kind of mind frame.

The Divide had a lot of potential. It had a great premise and some decent writing. Unfortunately, that writing wasn’t thoughtful enough to warrant the slow pacing and artistic cinematography.

Rating: FOUR out of TEN