Horror flicks these days have cottoned on that that a 70’s and 80’s style of prolonged dread makes for a better film than merely a scatter shot spray of cheap jump scares. Old school masters such as John Carpenter, Wes Craven and David Cronenberg are cited as major influences in both visuals and tone and fright flicks are more cerebral these days.
The Void is the latest of these throwbacks to slither down the pipe, a stripped back, single location, no bullshit example of survival horror that bristles with practical special effects and features more creepy triangles than an Illuminati fundraiser.
The plot is simplicity itself. A group of people are trapped at a closing hospital when a group of white robed cultists lay siege. At the same time some the people trapped inside start showing odd symptoms, like spontaneously stabbing patients in the eye and then rudely transforming into goopy, lumpy monsters. As the night progresses it becomes apparent that H.P. Lovecraft style shenanigans are going down and the hospital and everything in it is ground zero for another dimension to come knocking.
Before I bring up a sizable gripe about this movie that, to be honest, probably annoyed only me, this is a fine modern horror movie that is wonderfully gruesome, nicely tense and suprisingly well acted (any questionable or fool hardy actions any of the characters pull is adequately explained by smart back story or simply by the fact they all look simply scared shitless), the directing duo of Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski are certainly talents to watch and fill the screen with awesome images that impress and creep in equal measure (an upside-down, back to front thing crawling around in the basement is an easy contender for creature of the year).
So why the hell did I only give it 3 stars?
Chalk this up to the strange fact that as a lifelong horror fan, I noticed that some of the “influences” are, in fact, outright theft.
Now, to the uninitiated this isn’t a problem. More people will sit there blissfully aware that the climax rips off (almost shot for shot) both Lucio Fulci’s The Beyond and Carpenter’s Prince Of Darkness, but those more familiar with those name checked classics will feel more than a slight twinge of deja vu . Come to think of it Clive Barker’s Hellraiser gets pretty thoroughly ransacked too. This isn’t a major problem and more like a personal niggle but it did take the wind out of my enthusiasm a bit and I can’t help but feel that if the film makers were a bit less “fan happy” this would have been an easy four star home run and an instant cult classic. Still, it’s kinda tough for me to complain about any American film maker riffing on the Italian grue of Lucio Fulci of all people and is DEFINITELY worth hunting down for it’s home release (the screening I caught was a one night only kinda deal).
It’s just weird that the more about horror I knew, the less original I found it (my wife however, a horror novice, was very impressed).
Nice start Gillespie and Kostanski, but next time, please bring some originality to fill this void.