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Movie Review: The Divide

There's nothing particularly novel about the grim view of humanity on display in cult French director Xavier Gens' brutal post-apocalyptic horror show, "The Divide." But that doesn't make this overwrought but harrowing film feel like any less of a body blow to the soul. Think "Lord of the Flies," "The Road," or a far less heroic "Walking Dead" - but stuck in a basement.

"The Divide" kicks off in kinetic fashion as nuclear bombs rain on New York City and a crowd of panic-stricken high-rise dwellers is rushing down to the basement. Most don't make it, but those who do include the gruff building superintendent (Michael Biehn), a hysterical mom with a young child (Rosanna Arquette), a nerdy, nervous foreigner (Ivan Gonzalez) and his wife (Lauren German), a seemingly level-headed middle-aged man (Courtney B. Vance), a take-charge young guy (Milo Ventimiglia, Heroes), his quiet half-brother (Ashton Holmes) and their rambunctious friend (Michael Eklund).

The resulting struggle begins with a power grab and descends into savagery and chaos as radiation sickness and fears of the inevitable take hold. Written by Karl Mueller and Eron Sheean, "The Divide" doesn't break new ground in end-of-the-world and we-are-the-monsters lore, but as shot by Gens (Frontiers) and cinematographer Laurent Bares, it's creepily claustrophobic and drearily depressing.

What a way to start the new year.

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THE DIVIDE

4 stars (out of 5)

Unrated (graphic violence, extremely strong language, sex, a rape scene); 110 min.

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