Saturday, April 29, 2017

'The Void' Is a Solid Throwback to 80's Body Horror Movies

The Void starts off with a junkie named James (Evan Stern) escaping from a farmhouse into the nearby woods, while Vincent (Daniel Fathers) and his son Simon (Mik Byskov) shoots and burns another fleeing woman before going after James.  Police deputy Daniel Carter (Aaron Poole) finds the fatigued, blood-covered James and takes him to a small hospital where his estranged wife Alison Fraser (Kathleen Munroe) is working as a nurse.  Soon, hellishly disturbing things begin to occur in the hospital, as a group of creepy white-cloaked cultists suddenly appear to surround it, preventing those inside from escaping the place.  It’s now up to Daniel, Vincent, and Simon to unearth the demonic secrets that lurk the depths of the hospital, and lead the hospital staff and patients in surviving the night.

The Void is obviously crafted to channel the low-budget body horror films that were popular during the 1980’s.  The CGI is very minimal, if any, as it relies primarily on gory practical effects, as it was done in the old days.  The sound design, the setup, narrative structure and execution, and setting all add up to a nigh-perfect nostalgic impression.  This movie has nailed the atmosphere and aesthetics of the 80’s horror flicks of directors like David Cronenberg, John Carpenter, and Sam Raimi.
But beyond being a fun throwback film, The Void isn’t necessarily superb.  The script isn’t as smart and original as it could have been, and I was a bit bored at times.  The characters aren’t as likable and well-developed enough to make me care about them.  And the ending is kind of weak and underwhelmingly ambiguous.

So, as a whole, though it succeeds in capturing the feel of movies like The Fly, The Thing, or Evil Dead, it isn’t as rewarding as them.

As far as “modern movie that emulates the 80’s style body horror genre” is concerned, James Gunn’s 2006 film Slither is my benchmark of a masterpiece.  The Void is a good, solid movie on its own, but is simply not as enjoyable as Slither.

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