Michael Biehn has been in a number of great films, including The Terminator, Aliens, The Abyss, and Tombstone, and a number of others of varied quality. When The Divide came to Austin, the Alamo Drafthouse invited Biehn to introduce it, during which time he gave away a lot of the important plot points and spoiled large portions of the film. But as it turns out, the movie really isn’t worth seeing, so perhaps it’s better to have him tell you want happens than to watch it for yourself.
The film opens with a city (presumably New York) devastated by a massive explosion, probably from some kind of nuclear device. Mickey (Biehn) had been a firefighter during 9/11, and that experience forever changed his life. He gave up being a firefighter to become a building superintendent, and he lived his life under the assumption that it was only a matter of time until the next big thing hit. So as a haggard survivalist, he turned the building’s basement into a bunker where he would be able to ride out whatever might come in relative comfort while the rest of the world was destroyed around him. But he hadn’t expected he’d have to share that space with about nine of the other building’s residents who managed to make their way in before he sealed the door.
For someone so certain of an impending violent end to civilization, he stocked his bunker in a rather unusual way. He had a supply of food and water, although it had been intended for just one man and would be a stretch to sustain ten people until the radiation subsided enough to make it safe to go outside. And yet despite his solo intentions, he had plenty of mattresses for everyone to sleep on (which they made an effort to point out, and yet no effort to explain). He had a gasoline generator, although it was employed in a pretty uneconomical manner to operate a refrigerator and big screen TV. He had lockers and walkie-talkies and plenty of cigarettes, but no guns.
Almost instantly, factions arose within the bunker. Certainly seeing the world they knew come to an end didn’t put them in a great mental state to start with, and cabin fever, hunger, and boredom set in very quickly. It also didn’t help much that they fell under attack pretty early on by a group of soldier-scientists who set up some kind of laboratory right outside their door in a plot line that was never explained and never addressed again. But a complete lack of any form of logic is one of the defining characteristics of the movie, and because it’s about two hours long they have a lot of time to fill with things that don’t make sense and people you don’t care about.
The film is ultimately more psychological thriller than horror, and deals more with the breakdown of civilization in this closed, high-pressure environment. But merely having characters lose their minds and do irrational and impolite things doesn’t really make for much of a thriller. And although they were brought together by a nuclear blast that leveled the city, it really doesn’t really fit in the post-apocalyptic category either. If it is necessary to try to classify The Divide, I’d say it best fits in the “not worth watching” category.