“The Divide” – A Disaster Movie at Its Worst


As noted in my work on disaster narratives – for example see  “Disaster Narratives by Design: Is Japan Different?” – there is no ‘Disaster’ genre per se. This means that when I have been doing my studies, as well as new movies that would fit with in my studies coming out still, I sometimes come across older ones that could have been part of the study. Due to the work I’m doing at the moment for a presentation in Cologne in May (see Splitting Atomic Symbolism: Differing Words, Images, and Sounds of a Nuclear World) and Visual Packaging Culture, I have been both reviewing some previously watched movies and some which are new to me which include the imagery of nuclear explosions (I will do a separate post listing the ones that are part of my study). One that I have recently watched, and which could have been part of “Disaster Narratives by Design: Is Japan Different?” as it came out in 2011 is The Divide. In many ways I’m glad that it wasn’t (as it would have required watching more than once).

In case you are not familiar with the movie (lucky you), here is a summary on IMDb.

Survivors of a nuclear attack are grouped together for days in the basement of their apartment building, where fear and dwindling supplies wear away at their dynamic.


The tag line for the film (on the poster) is ‘The Lucky Ones Died In The Blast’. It’s about the only thing that I can agree with in relation to this film. The characters are all horrible – much like the majority of inhabitants of Amity in the original novel of Jaws (one of the many things that the movie changed – and you just can’t end up rooting for any of them, even the one who is circled out to be one you should be rooting for.

Although it was not part of my study and I have no particular plans to continue that study, if I think about the disaster movie conventions that I developed, and without wanting to spend too much dwelling on what was in The Divide as I’d rather wipe the whole thing from my memory, I think that it had 14 of the 17. However, as noted in other posts, having a high number of the conventions does not equate to it being a good movie, let alone a good disaster movie. And this one definitely isn’t. The rating on IMDb is currently 5.8 – which is on the low side even compared to many other disaster narratives that I studied – but is still way above the 2 out of 10 that I have scored it (I rarely give things below 5).

The film is just so predictable – an adult version of Lord of the Flies, I suppose – with odd developments in the plot, horrible characters, and too much gore. Just another apocalyptical movie that suggest humans are evil and in bad situations brawn will win over brains. So, as much as the tag line for the film is right, perhaps the key thing to learn from this movie is (nuclear) war needs to be avoided at all costs as if this is what a future would be like, you certainly wouldn’t want to survive it. That’s all you need to know – don’t watch The Divide. As for my current research, it did at least include an image of a nuclear explosion… in the first minute… I literally could have stopped watching at that point and wish I had.

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