There is a large and ever-growing trend in horror right now that involves not only paying homage to the horror movies of the 80s but trying to replicate them in almost every sense. The novelty is one that I welcomed. 80s horror is the driving force behind my obsession with and love for the genre. I love the synth scores, the return to practical f/x and the camp that has become a staple of that most beloved of decades. Now, however, it’s a tactic that has superseded quality and it seems like we are right back where we started, gimmick horror outlasting its usefulness.
Directors Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski’s The Void has hit the industry scene with a whole lotta hype. We have been hearing its accolades for months now and usually, much to my chagrin, those early songs of praise spell doom for me truly enjoying a movie unhampered by popular opinion. It Follows, The Babadook and others have fallen incredibly short for me and I know it’s in no small part to the “take-no-prisoners” market saturation that both subscribed to. The Void, potentially, had every indicator of suffering the same outcome for me. Gladly, I can say this was not the case.
The Void opens very, VERY strong, puling the audience in before we even get a chance to prepare ourselves for the film’s an introduction. A woman runs from an old farmhouse, getting shot in the back and as two men stare out over her pain-riddled body. Gasoline is dumped over the woman and she is burned alive. There were shades of Alvarez’s Evil Dead opening here and I have to say that’s not a bad thing at all.
The film is quick to set up the cornerstones of its plot as the two men, a conflicted cop, his ex-wife, a grieving doctor and others become trapped in a rural hospital with murderous cultists on the outside and an amorphic, shapeshifting abomination within its walls.
So, what we can talk about here is homage, something that The Void does so elegantly and adeptly that you might not even realize it till well after the credits roll. You see, the directors have a really good idea not only of what’s worked but why it did, implementing the best parts of the devices of their predecessors. The Void, standing tall on the shoulders of many of the genre’s most revered classics, is part The Thing, Prince of Darkness and the Beyond and if not for its obvious Lovecraftian themes would read like a Carpenter best-of list. Make no mistake though, this STILL is not a bad thing as the Void hits all of the right notes, paying tribute and somehow fusing this elements seamlessly into its own universe.
In fact, we could spend a lot of time talking about what The Void does right. With solid performances across-the-board, impressive practical f/x and a chilling ominous sense of dread, The Void avoids most modern horror trappings an delivers a gory, intense and provocative film. Many will balk at The Void’s open-ending, one that raises as many questions as it answers, but one that delivers a bookend that is as chilling as the air of dread that undoubtedly shrouds the entire film. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED