The Void (2016): Body Horror Review Series Chapter 1

(This review is brought to you by the hope that you will explore our submissions call for our 2017 Body Horror Anthology. And on the topic of body horror, check out our Quick History of Body Horror Cinema article.)

Greetings from Ulthar,

If you are a horror fanatic, and you keep up with horror film news, you have likely heard of The Void (2016). The hype surrounding this film is insatiable and endless. Fans are banging on the doors of the studios to go ahead and distribute the damned thing. Fortunately, a select few lucky individuals were able, or invited, to view this film pre-release. So let’s get down to business . . . to defeat the . . . old ones?

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IMDB Plot Description: 

Shortly after delivering a patient to an understaffed hospital, a police officer experiences strange and violent occurrences seemingly linked to a group of mysterious hooded figures.

Starring: Aaron Poole, Kenneth Welsh, and Daniel Fathers.

Written by: Jeremy Gillespie and Stephen Kostanski

Directed by: Jeremy Gillespie and Stephen Kostanski

Review:

The Void presents itself as a science fiction/horror homage to just about every film in the genre fans have come to consider classics. From John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982), Event Horizon (1997), Hellraiser (1987), various Lovecraftian lore and even video game franchises like Dead SpaceThe Void has a culmination of our favorite films and sci-fi worlds mashed together into something that, while sometimes sloppy, is compelling and capable of standing on its own.

On Structure: The film opens with concurrent senses of isolation and paranoid pursuit, reminiscent of John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13 (1976). While continuously building the tension via several interconnected events and also delivering some strange, frightful scares in the beginning, the movie subsequently stutters a bit. As the second act of the film begins, a unique balance is found and the themes and cinematography only become stronger and more fluid. The final act is, as we can expect, a bloodbath that will likely make this film a classic by itself.

On Writing: The Void for the most part presents audiences with clever, dark, and cosmic dialogue. Every line from the lead antagonist towards the second half of the film is chilling and terrifying. However, there is a lot of time wasted with senseless, panicked dialogue. Though these moments are often realistic considering the nature of our characters (mostly young people who have clearly never been in dangerous situations–including the sheriff). The plot is very interesting, though it takes time to develop and at first appears chaotic and muddled. Once the primary twists are revealed, the film bears an atmosphere that truly echoes Dead Space and Event Horizon. The tropes, though used often, are executed in clever ways that provide audiences with a breath of fresh air. It’s nearly impossible to avoid using tropes in a horror film; the way that these tropes are used, becomes what’s important.

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On Cinematography: Many other reviews of the film online have stated what we are about to state: the movie frequently places style over substance. The stylish and disturbing cinematic atmosphere is some of the best that has been filmed in a long time. The shots are often very wide, dark scopes of this (our?) world, only adding to the strong theme of isolation felt throughout the film. The camera work is daring and the scenarios often combine a trippy setting with psychologically compelling events. The transitions and cuts during the film, especially in dream sequences, are masterful and present audiences with an often hallucinogenic essence. Most shots are very exploitative, rarely leaving anything to imagination. Cinematography techniques used in The Void are anything but generic, and provide an umph! that help viewers to overlook the micro budget.

On Effects: Yes. The moment we have all been waiting for. The Void has been heavily advertised as a body horror bonanza, calling back to the glory gory days of the 1980s. We are pleased to announce that the film does not disappoint. The practical effects in this movie are astounding and honestly remind audiences of the awe and intrigue we felt when we first saw The Thing. There are even several instances where a very specific sound effect was used during these body horror sequences that was either directly borrowed from The Thing or at least heavily inspired by it. Even with this acknowledgment, it makes the scene more effective rather than strictly derivative. The small amounts of CGI that are inserted into The Void are much better than the CGI we witnessed in the 1980s body horror era, so modern moviegoers will not be as distracted by this aspect as they are with films like The Thing, Evil Dead II (1987), and Hellraiser. The CGI that is incorporated is done so in a bleak, grim way, that faithfully supports the practical pillars on which The Void is built. The grotesque and macabre transformations and monsters in this film are some of the best we horror film buffs have seen in a very long time.

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CONCLUSION:

The Void offers a plethora of callbacks to fan-favorite body horror films. The plot is very interesting, the sequences are terrifying, and the effects are on point. On the flip side of things, the dialogue and character interaction is not what it should’ve been, though it’s a bit much to expect complex characters in a horror film. The micro budget is often unnoticeable which is honestly not only a surprise, but a pleasant addition to the art-house film. It is evident that the directors/writers are fan boys just like the rest of us, and The Void is our wet dream come to life. Despite the few setbacks of the film, it is undeniable to admit that the movie stands on its own and offers an amazing experience that only true horror fans can deeply appreciate. We highly recommend The Void. Just don’t expect deep characters and intelligible dialogue throughout the film’s hour and a half run time.

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RATING: 4/5 Stars

Don’t forget to visit our submissions page for our Body Horror Anthology. And if you wanted to learn more about body horror, check out our Body Horror Cinema article. This is the first part in a series, celebrating body horror as we lead up to our anthology in November.

Thank you so much for stopping by. Do you agree with this review? Disagree? Any suggestions or corrections? Please let us know, we’d love to hear your thoughts.

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