From Midnight Sun director Scott Speer comes Endless, a new tragic teen romance that will definitely capture the interests of fans of previous dark YA romances, like 13 Reasons Why or The Fault in Our Stars. Despite all its best efforts, it doesn’t quite get to the emotional level of its predecessors, but still remains a sweet addition to the genre that many fans will likely enjoy.
Endless follows the story of high school sweethearts Riley (Alexandra Shipp, Love Simon) and Chris (Nicholas Hamilton, It) in the summer before they head to college. Riley is set to follow in her parents’ footsteps by going to Georgetown and becoming a lawyer, but Chris tries to encourage her to follow her passion for art instead. Before she can make a decision, the two of them are hit by a car while trying to leave a party. Riley survives the crash, but Chris doesn’t. He remains in limbo, able to watch the living but not communicate with them.
As a spirit, Chris meets Jordan (DeRon Horton, Dear White People), a teenager from the 1980s who guides Chris through the rules of the spirit realm he now lives in. Jordan teaches Chris that he can never communicate with the living, but he finds a way to appear to Riley through their shared memory of her drawings, and they continue to connect with each other throughout the film. However, their connection proves to be more dangerous than they think.
There’s not much originality here, as many of the classic tropes of the tragic teen romance make appearances, but most of them work well. The characters aren’t the most unique or interesting, but their story is compelling enough to keep audiences interested. Despite its name, Endless actually could have benefited from a longer run-time, giving the audience more time to get to know the characters. We are thrust into their world very quickly, with not enough time to really develop an attachment.
The most originality in the film comes from a subplot in which Riley is accused of being responsible for Chris’ death. However, this narrative falls to the side and is wrapped up too easily, not allowing for growth in Riley’s character. DeRon Horton’s character also adds an element of charm to the film, but he lacks in both screen-time and development. Fans of the YA romance genre will appreciate the sweet moments between Riley and Chris, and the film’s solid message of learning to let go of those you’ve lost but never forgetting them. However, Endless doesn’t quite have enough substance to live up to its full potential. Overall, the combination of clichés and uncompelling characters adds up to an enjoyable but underwhelming film