I may be the only one who thought Xavier Gens' 2007 film "Frontier(s)" was an over-rated and ineffective "torture porn" cash-in. As unoriginal and over-hyped as that was, I was, of course, skeptical going into "The Divide" which made it all the more rewarding of an experience to find that a french hack film maker had finally found his footing amongst the horror genre. This flick is fucking harsh!
The residents of an apartment building pile into the basement during a mostly unexplained nuclear attack. Early on, guys in hazmat suits invade their shelter with seemingly hostile intentions which results in a bloody brawl and leaves them, eventually, sealed into the dank basement. As radiation gradually seeps in, tensions rise, nourishment grows scarce, and their mental states begin to fall apart...
Honestly, I can't think of any real faults within this film. It's not an original idea, whatsoever - check out "The Hole", "Blindness", "[REC]", etc. - but it's executed in such a brutal and unrelenting manner that it definitely trumps any other 'apocalyptic-survival' flick I've seen in recent years. Michael Biehn plays the gruff and Muslim-hating landlord of the building which is easily the stand-out performance of the film. He's the one guy who seems to know what's best for the group, but is restrained once he's found hiding food. A woman's mind turns to shit after her daughter is inexplicably hauled off early on by the hazmat assholes and she soon becomes the whore of the basement bomb shelter for a the rest of the dudes who, of course, can't NOT go a few days without fucking something. This aspect of the movie was especially 'whacked out' and disturbing.
As far as I'm concerned, Xavier Gens has redeemed himself with "The Divide". Again, I don't think he has an original bone in his body, but this film packs a massive punch. The pacing is great, the performances are strong, the cinematography is nice looking, the violence is hard-hitting, and the overall tone is awesomely bleak and depressing. Highly, highly recommended.