Nostalgia is all the rage right now. Take a look at familiar franchises that tried to reboot with fresh ideas. Star Wars The Last Jedi. The 2016 Ghostbusters. Halloween III: Season of the Witch. As it turns out, despite what they claimed, audiences didn’t want something new. They wanted something familiar with an upgrade. Not surprisingly then, the horror genre has extensively flirted with a love of all things 80s for a while now. Canadian horror movie The Void – which saw a limited theatrical release in 2016 – recalls the best of John Carpenter’s 80s output alongside some Lovecraftian cosmic horror. But The Void knows the difference between nostalgia and blending familiar elements into some compellingly fresh.
A quiet small town night takes a drastic turn when the local Deputy Sheriff, Daniel Carter, finds a young man bleeding on a deserted road. But when Carter takes the stranger to the local hospital – where his estranged wife works – things only get stranger. Masked cults members surround the hospital refusing to let anyone leave. Buy they make no effort to break in. Instead the cult seems intent on making sure no one leaves. Meanwhile, inside the hospital, inexplicable horrors suddenly emerge terrorizing all those who remain.
The Void Never Settles Into Conventional Storytelling Despite a Nostalgic Feel
Straight out of the gate, The Void compels you to watch with a shocking, but not over-the-top, opening. But the strength in The Void lies in its ability to defy your expectations. Writer and directors Steven Kostanksi and Jeremy Gillespie swerve and take their story in a different direction on more than one occasion. If you think you know what’s going on, The Void detours into a new direction. At one point, the Canadian indie horror recalls Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13. But The Void quickly veers into supernatural territory before fulling venturing into Lovecraftian horror. While it’s a movie that takes much of its atmosphere and style from nostalgia, Kostanksi and Gillespie never forget to tell an original story.
…the Canadian indie horror recall Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13.
And if the story itself doesn’t intrigue, The Void delivers a tightly-paced onslaught of body horror that always exceeds its indie roots. There’s plenty of shocks and Kostanski and Gillespie pace them out at a generous interval. By and large, The Void never lags even if its final act nearly stretches the story out too long. Once things firmly enter body horror territory, horror fans will be delighted by the stunning visual effects that recall horror classics like The Thing. Many of the movie’s visual contortions are impressive and mind-blowing. But some of the more subtle moments – including the hooded figures waiting outside the doors – are just as foreboding.
The Void Nearly Teeters Into The Abyss In Its Final Act
In addition to its stunning practical effects and gruesome body horror, The Void benefits from its characters and performances. On one hand, Kostanski and Gillespie’s screenplay plays to some familiar narratives. Its main protagonists – ex husband and wife Deputy Sheriff Daniel Carter and nurse Allison Fraser – share a tragedy that factors heavily into the climax. There’s also an overbearing authority state patrol officer and a host of supporting characters who check off the requisite siege ensemble feature requirements. Nevertheless, The Void invests some of these tropes with enough genuine emotion to overcome any familiarity. That is, Carter and Fraser – played by Aaron Poole and Kathleen Munroe, respectively – offer an investing relationship amidst the movie’s carnage.
But when there’s so many visual horrors to unleash, it’s hard to give each characters their full due.
Conversely, The Void underserves its father-and-son duo who initially set the movie’s story in motion. The same problem arises with the most of the movie’s supporting cast. But when there’s so many visual horrors to unleash, it’s hard to give each character their full due. Still some of the story’s choices may leave the finale feeling a little emotionally flat. None of this really matters, however once The Void explores its Lovecraftian roots. Yes, The Void almost overextends its story in its final act. But the writing-directing duo never lose a grip over the story and the visuals remain impressive even as they shift into more cosmic realms.
The Void Recalls The Best of 80s Horror While Telling an Original Story
Despite a third act that almost loses its momentum, The Void proves to be one of the better horror movies in recent memory. On one had, it’s a love letter to 80s, Lovecraftian, and John Carpenter-esque horror. But directors Kostanski and Gillespie know the difference between re-treading nostalgia and crafting an effective homage. If it feels familiar, The Void also feels unpredictable and fresh. With amazing practical effects and compelling characters, The Void should obtain the kind of cult status that demands repeat viewings.