The truest of the '80s nuclear nightmares, Lynne Littman's Testament (1983) was such a sad piece of suburban despair, you could barely make it through it. This wasn't a scenario in which heroes strapped on football pads and rode off with Mel Gibson---rather, you waited for a pre-Witness Lukas Haas to waste away from radiation sickness. Unintentionally true to its title, The Divide first goes for a similar bleakness (it barely registers as entertainment), then lurches into a rousing, vengeful finale; both sides of the equation add up to less than zero.
Bombs fall on Manhattan and our shell-shocked characters gather in the musty cellar of their apartment building. Chief among them, by force of personality, is the wacko super (Aliens' Biehn), a racist who stocked his underground lair with supplies post-9/11. As these resources begin to dwindle---along with civilized manners---the movie resembles a hard-R episode of The Twilight Zone, but one lacking any poetry or insight other than "It can always get worse." You almost gasp at the daring of it all (how was this even financed?), until a Jovovichian killing machine (German) emerges from the grungy group, her hair perfectly mussed, to make a break for the escape hatch. One lesson for future generations rising from the ashes: Avoid the shelter containing whiner Rosanna Arquette.
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