“The Void” (2017): A Gorgeously Horrific Nightmare

The Void clearly has a lot of influences. Mainly, a love of 1980s era creature features and extensive practical effects. While that admiration is something shared by many a horror fan, it can often leave those same fans thinking more about the influences rather than the final product. Avoiding this can often be elusive, especially in a modern nostalgia context that’s become all the rage. Directors Steven Kostanski and Jeremy Gillespie have shown their love for the above mentioned influences elsewhere. Stuff like Manborg showed that the duo could create a stylized dip into the retro-80s techno satire that is aesthetically appealing, but even they knew this couldn’t be sustained for long given the 67 minute running time. The key to doing so lies in making a definitive stamp and exploration of the universe being built.

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This is something The Void does in spades, mainly by taking the concepts established by the likes of John Carpenter, Lucio Fulci and Tom Savini into a nonstop nightmare of a rush. Aside from the early introduction to all of our characters that follows an intense cold open, The Void rarely considerings breathing room into the equation for its audience. The film relishes in throwing every single possible cosmic horror it can think of and slamming it directly into our eyeholes. It truly is a living nightmare, one that establishes the familiar base of these characters before throwing them into a surreal hell that they can’t escape from. It’s a wonderfully macabre example of how to give its audience people worth investing in and destroying them without a single eye batted.

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The Void couldn’t really accomplish this without having a solid knack for developing its characters. With probably the best example of taking from its influences, The Void chooses to unveil the motives and pasts of its characters through authentic interaction rather than blatant exposition. It helps create an endearing base of a small town intersection that an audience can gravitate towards. When such a world becomes ruptured by unholy terror, it gives the tension, gore and monsters far more impact. This particularly resonates with Daniel Carter (Aaron Poole) as our lead, giving us a full spectrum of a character haunted both by the small town past of his family and his love life that feeds the eventual disturbing horror.

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Said horror is one of the better examples of Lovecraftian horror in cinematic history. The Void knows when and when not to reveal the unbelievable horror of the creatures on display. In a vein similar to the indescribable cosmic horror of H.P. Lovecraft, The Void knows how to leave some horror left to the imagination and others in plain view. It’s the difference between the classic practical effects horror of old and the modern lesser CGI of new. The Void knows when to show off the horrific effects work and when to show it off fully. There’s always a delicate balance to fully achieve in this case, one that films like Harbinger Down fail to achieve. The imagery is often simple yet effective, such as the cult followers adorned in robes with triangles on their hoods. They send messages of idolatry and worship without having us be too clouded in  It would be easy to show off these effects in full and ruin the surprise inherent in the film. Yet, The Void cleverly knows when to cover the full display and when not to at every single point. The monsters are given ample time to show off their full colors, but not without some restraint. The lighting and blocking allow the audience to wonder in horror and gaze in awe at the same time at what The Void has to behold.

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Ultimately, The Void is the type of genre throwback that should be emulated more. Rather than recycling the same type of tributes we’ve been privy to in the last several years and turned them into a brilliant new combination that one would never anticipate. The type of excitement that isn’t built on pure emulation, but rather existing foundation that evolves into something fresh and new on its own. The Void is the type of creature feature that knows practical effects aren’t the only things people find themselves attached to. What made films like The Thing or The Fly work as well as they did was how they approached the characters on equal footing with the effects work. The Void is well aware of this and gives plenty of mutilating punches to the throat. It’s unrelenting in the way a feverish nightmare is. Playing on our conceptions of reality by dismantling them in a gorgeously disturbing fashion. Truly, The Void is a horrific nightmare that’ll linger in the recesses of your mind long after viewing it… in the best way possible.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Mutilated Monsters

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