Plodding and repetitive in its efforts to maintain pressure-cooker intensity, “The Divide” resembles nothing so much as an extended “Twilight Zone” episode as it brings a sci-fi twist to a familiar scenario about stressed characters who bring out the worst in each other while trapped in close quarters. Since few ticketbuyers will be eager to subject themselves to such an ordeal, Anchor Bay will have to rely on homevid to recoup its purchase price for this SXSW Film Festival pickup.
After a nuclear strike on Manhattan by unknown assailants, apartment building residents seek refuge in a basement the janitor (Michael Biehn), a 9/11 survivor, has fortuitously transformed into a well-stocked bomb shelter. As weeks drag by, however, distrust breeds antagonism, which in turn leads to violence. Helmer Xavier Gens (“Hitman”) encourages furious overplaying by most cast members, though Rosanna Arquette has some affecting moments as an emotionally devastated mom. Things get completely out of hand during the pic’s increasingly frenzied final third, leading to a scene where a character must wade through a humongous accumulation of sewage and human excrement. Auds may be able to empathize.