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Every once in a while a horror film comes along that does something genuinely twisted with the familiar and deserves the cult following it gains. Be it for the shock value or characters or just plain insanity, something triggers that tiny zone in the core of our brains that craves innovation, especially for those baser scares that have us sleeping with the lights on. The Void is just such an experience, a film that embraces the trend of 80s throwback and layers it in some truly unsettling imagery that recalls the early work of John Carpenter, David Cronenberg, and even Ridley Scott, with enough originality to make it stand on its own. This is a beast of movie, and one of the best creatures features in recent memory.
With what looks like an act of brutal savagery becomes something all together different when local cop Daniel (Aaron Poole) picks up a bloodied meth addict on the street and brings him to the hospital, itself under a move and staffed with a limited crew, including Daniel’s estranged wife, Allison (Kathleen Munroe). Outside, a gathering of cloaked figures with a black triangle on the face surrounds the nearly empty building and it seems to accompany a terrifying event inside, when a grotesque shape-shifting beast attacks. Chaos reigns as truths emerge and the horror presses in.
Written and directed by Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski, The Void is a masterpiece of misdirection, a thriller that like the best of those it draws influence from, lets the fear and gore play out only in service to the moment. This is a delicious mystery wrapped within oppressive terror and it is the people in the story that shape every frame of the film, a cast of characters who defy their trope-ish origins. These are not merely fodder for a bloodbath but distinct personalities that have history valuable to the story and as such have meaning to the events as they unfold. Make no mistake, this is a monster movie, but it is also much, much more.
The Void rarely slows down as the terror builds, but where it succeeds best is how well Gillespie and Kostanski direct the madness, crafting a spellbinding horror tale that thoroughly break down whatever it is you think is happening. It borrows heavily, naturally, as it intends to do, however there is great distinction in what Gillespie and Kostanski are doing, and the story becomes much more about the metaphors then the reality as Daniel and Allison reconnect and face the literal larger demons of their past. It’s this attention to characterization in them and many others, including a father (Daniel Fathers), and his mute son, Simon (Mik Byskov) who have become hunters in this game, that truly compel.
Somehow taking the clichés of classic gore horror from decades past and making them feel as fresh as the first day of release, The Void is a spellbinding experience of graphic monster mayhem and occult obsession. The filmmakers vision is a spectacle of dramatic imagery and intense terror that for fans of the genre-defining films of the 80s (using practical effects), it perfectly captures what made them so iconic while blazing its own path in to modern cinema. While perhaps many will be put off by its loving embrace of the past and old school themes, the rest will savor what can only be described as a new classic in the genre, one shaped by viewer unease and limbic fear, a refreshing journey into madness that is a fun as it is horrifying.
Movie description: The Void is a 2017 horror film about a strange cult looking for immortal life who trap and hunt their victims in a small town hospital.
Director(s): Jeremy Gillespie, Steven Kostanski
Actor(s): Kathleen Munroe, Kenneth Welsh, Aaron Poole