Review: The Void

 

The Void begins with Carter, a local deputy, encountering a young man stumbling out of the woods and onto the road. At first he assumes the man has simply had too much to drink,  until he discovers the man’s covered in blood.  Carter races to the closest hospital  in an attempt to get him help. It turns out the hospital is short staffed, due to an impending closure due to a recent fire. An examination of the man reveals that the blood on him is not his own.

Things only get weirder from that point onward. The hospital is soon surrounded by a group of strangers all wearing hooded robes that have a triangular design. The strangers quickly make it clear that they’re not friendly when they prove to be knife weilding maniacs. But the strangest thing  is that they aren’t trying to get into the hospital, rather they seem to be determined to keep everyone inside it.

From that point on things just get stranger and weirder, in an entertaining way. Throw in some hellish beast that look like a Clive Barker and HP Lovecraft love-child, gun-toting nutjobs, and a desperate attempt to save Carter’s wife (She’s a nurse at the hospital) from the cult’s bat shit crazy leader, and you gotta lot of action and drama going on.

The Void excels is the practical special effects. The majority of the creatures and gore are done in an old school fasion that’s straight out of the ’80s. If you enjoyed movies like The Thing, Aliens, Fright Night, etc. you’ll love the visceral nature of it.

Enivornment and atmosphere are also strong elements of The Void. Being stuck in a remote location with no way out and a lethal threat inside and not knowing who you can trust or believe is a great way to build a tense atmosphere. The Void manages to use these all in an entertaining way, never letting the characters or audience feel safe or at ease.

The supernatural/occult theme of The Void is something that I love to watch or read when it is well done, and this movie doesn’t disappoint in that category. Too many movies rely on cheap scare tatics and cliched psycho killers brutalizing horny teen agers. Instead The Void delves into the disturbing idea of cheating death, and opening forbiden portals. As a fan of Lovecraft and Clive Barker, I appreciated and genuinely enjoyed the ideas that The Void took on.

For all the good things that The Void had going for it, I did feel it was weak when it came to its characters. I never developed any opinion about any of them, and did not really care about their fates. I think part of the reason this is is because there’s very little to no back story for most of them. The only exception is the reltionship between Carter and Alice, who are apparently either still married or exes – it’s never made clear. The film makers attempt to make them sympathetic to their audience but the whole thing feels contrived and fored. The rest of the characters are mere plot furniture, and other than being annoying or having some cool action scenes – they don’t stand out as strong well developed characters. I realize that in movies like this there are characters that are mere cannon fodder, but unlike other movies that do this, I didn’t find myself cheering for their on screen deaths or survival.

I think that there could’ve been a bit more backstory/development with Alice and Carter earlier in the movie to help establish their relationship and draw the viewers to the characters without bogging down the plot. It would’ve made Carter’s search for Alice later in the movie far more impactful as well as the conclusion of it.

The Void is the kind of movie that doesn’t answer all the questions that it raises which can make for a bit of confusion early on. But it does manage to leave a trail of proverbial bread crumbs along the way that help clear things up for the most part, but it still leaves somethings to your own imagination. I think The Void is the kind of movie that makes more sense after watching it a second time. If you’re the kind of person that needs everything spelled out for you and to  have the movie hold your hand and explain every detail then this isn’t the movie for you. On the other hand if you like having your imagination engaged and contemplating what you just watched, then by all means give The Void a shot.

I enjoyed watching The Void, a lot. It’s been a long time that a  new movie has captured my attention and imagination like this one. In fact I’ve kept it on my Netflix list to watch it again, something I hardly ever do. I won’t say that it’s the greatest horror movie I’ve seen but it’s a fun movie, and I can overlook the flaws it has.

If you enjoyed the supernatural-esque movies of John Carpenter, and Clive Barker from the ’80’s then I think you’ll enjoy this one. Fans of weird fiction, and in particular HP Lovecraft will enjoy it as well. A lot has been made of The Void being a homage to the 80’s horror movies, in particular John Carpenter’s work – Prince of Darkness, but I think it stands on its own as a solid movie.

Grade: B+

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