Review: The Void

thevoid
I’ve seen some $#!t…

When a police officer stumbles across a drug addict by the road and takes him to the nearby hospital, he quickly finds himself and a handful of others quickly under siege by mysterious hooded figures. But what’s worse is the strangers appear to be preventing them from escaping… as an inhuman terror is unleashed within the hospital…

The Void is one of those films were after watching it you feel the need to watch 24 hours of cute cat videos, just to remind yourself of happier, less horrifying things and allow your nerves to relax. Made by two debut directors, one being involved in make-up effects for such films as Crimson Peak, Silent Hill and Wrong Turn, the other having worked in art departments for the Poltergeist remake and both involved in the Hannibal television show, this film is a visual marvel if nothing else. Blood-curdling, disgusting body horror.
This is the sort of thing horror films today sorely lack.

Borrowing heavily from Lovecraftian horror tales of other dimensions of suffering, torment and immortality, The Void has some similarities to Hellraiser, The Thing and more elaborate film stories like Event Horizon. It is an experimental dive into the deepest, darkest recesses of hell and otherworldly transformation. But unlike those films mentioned (although perhaps not The Thing, which still stands the test of time) The Void is an expertly implemented body horror with zero CGI creatures; everything is practical effects. Oozing, bubbling, dripping and coursing with bile, the monstrosities created here are fantastic, channeling the sort of work and effort that was only seen in Cameron’s Aliens or any number of 1980s fantasy/sci-fi movies not privy to CGI shortcuts. There’s perhaps zero jump-scares too, another testimony to what’s wrong with modern horror, The Void works with tension and a barrage of visual terror instead.

But the film isn’t just content in showing us graphic monstrous sci-fi violence, like someone’s face being penetrated by slithering tentacles, or lumbering, disfigured and skeletal figures birthing themselves from cadavers. The Void also tosses in mentally fragile protagonists, people who have experienced loss and pain in the past, as well as a father with his pregnant daughter seeking aid in a rundown, claustrophobic hospital. As if unholy abominations hunting them down and perverting the dead wasn’t bad enough, their mental neuroses are preyed upon, distorting their reality.
This isn’t The Evil Dead, there’s little levity or strong character to root for; their situation is utterly hopeless and we can only watch as it gets worse!

Which, is something of a hindrance. The film is rapid fire and does not give you a chance to breath. It is exhausting, with under ninety minutes available, your eyes will be out on stalks only to be attacked with the visual equivalent of sandpaper. Who’s this character we suddenly have?? No time to explain, more stuff’s happening!
It is a very lean screenplay; it only gives you information when you need it, and that sometimes leads to characters acting very irrationally, verging on tropes. Characters are not given time to emerge, relationships are quickly ex-posited before the script moves on. With audience nerves quickly fraying from the tension, grim visuals and body-horror, it is easy to miss the few character clues along the way without the necessary pauses.

But, I actually loved it for its practical effects. In today’s age of either minimalist horror (at its best: It Follows) to jump-scare-fueled CG crap-fests (at its worst: The Conjuring 2) it is glorious to see something so visceral and so grotesque. A much needed reminder of body-horror movies of the past, the art of practical effects. These are the films that keep us up at night, that overwhelm the senses and breed nightmares.

If you didn’t get this from my review: this is not for the faint of heart. But if you think you know horror films, or if you remember a time when horror films were gory and blood-drenched, The Void is for you.

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