I didn’t imagine I would enjoy The Void as much as I did. Being that the Lovecraft-inspired indie horror flick was created strictly through crowdfunding and worked off a poor script and mediocre budget, I went in with relatively low expectations. What I got in return was quality, concise film that kept me way more engaged than I ever thought possible. What’s more, The Void‘s reliance on practical effects, as well as a pace and setting reminiscent to the John Carpenter’s classic The Thing, made me fall in love with it all the more. In fact, The Void should stand as a reminder of what good horror truly looks like, and why we need a revival in the genre.
As a kid, I consumed horror films like a famished dog, settling my cravings of classics like Halloween, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Hellraiser, and Texas Chainsaw Massacre. These movies shaped my love for the horror genre, and as such gave me a solid foundation for my study of such films. In recent years, horror movies have hit somewhat of a rough patch; every other film hitting the theater is either a sequel, remake, or cut copy of another popular stand-in. It’s gotten to the point where you can predict with almost perfect accuracy how every horror title will play out, and frankly, I’m tired of watching a white, 20-something girl get chased around by malevolent forces for an hour and a half. I miss the time when horror movies made you care about the characters before they were killed off, and gave you a reason to cheer for them.
Obviously there are some outliers when it comes to this monotonous trend. Standout hits like Don’t Breathe, IT, and of course, The Void, all act as foils to this system, providing quality horror experiences with genuine thought and effort put into their plots. However, what makes The Void stand out from the others is its ability to rekindle the feeling of absolute paranoia and cabin fever that classic horror movies used to rely on. As mentioned before, The Void relies heavily on themes and plot elements from The Thing. The main characters are trapped in an isolated location, the monster isn’t able to be initially tracked or identified, there is a clear leader, and the forces working against the protagonist are much stronger and more dangerous. These elements create a claustrophobic environment that preys on the characters as they try to find out who’s the real threat.
In The Void‘s case, the elder gods-inspired demons that infect the trapped hospital personnel are gruesome and vicious, which adds further weight to every decision the cast makes. Several other tense moments come whenever the characters have to venture outside the hospital, which has been surrounded by cultists veiled in white sheets. The knife-wielding worshipers of the main antagonist are silent and dreadfully creepy, and add an extra layer of fear to the entire experience. It also helps that 95% of the effects used in the film are practical, which gives it a more real and believable look and feel. The transformed humans and grotesque, demonic monstrosities are uncomfortable to look at, and move with a disjointed, eerie speed that could make even the most hardened of horror veteran’s skin crawl.
The main reason why The Void works as well as it does is because it doesn’t rely on its scares alone to make it a decent horror movie. Some of the most terrifying moments come not from jump scares, but rather the disgusting dialogue or, in the case of one of the characters, the birth of an unspeakable evil. This tell and show mentality elevates The Void above the standard horror fare of today, and proves that movies of this caliber can still prevail.
While The Void‘s initial impact wasn’t great, I feel that in the coming years directors will look to it as a source of inspiration, and hopefully will incorporate some of its nuances into their work. I look forward to a time where horror can once again move out of the traditional haunted house or serial killer motif, and branch back into previously treaded waters such as sci-fi or heavily supernatural scares. The world needs more mummies and aliens scaring them half to death, and it’ll take a creative mind with an emboldened spirit to make it happen. Luckily, The Void leads the charge, and gives the next generation a solid palette to work with.