The Void: Abyssus Abyssum Invocat

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That title: totally not a Behemoth reference. At least not directly. SOMETHING colossal and otherworldly awaits you in The Void, if you dare follow it.

If you’re an indie horror film fan who paid even the slightest attention to the blogosphere over the last few weeks, you’ve probably read a few other reviews that already sang the praise for The Void (in a cacophony of cultist chanting no doubt). The most-highly praising ones tend to come from Horror Blogs that absolutely ‘get’ what Steven Kostanski and Jeremy Gillespie were going for. On that particular note, you’re not going to find this particular review any different. You may have even read a few non-horror-specific blogs’ reviews that just didn’t get it, and granted low scores that attest more to their own lack of investment being that they’re not the target audience.

This definitely isn’t one of those reviews.

In either case those other reviews dutifully noted the cinematographic, thematic, and narrative similarities between The Void and 80’s Cosmic and earth-bound Horror precursors like works of John Carpenter (Assault on Precinct 13, Halloween, Prince of Darkness and The Thing) and of Lucio Fulci (The Beyond and House By The Cemetery in particular) and with body-horrors of David Cronenberg (though no short list here would do his influence justice).

If you’re already sold just based on those names and titles, great. You’re exactly where I was the day I first heard of the film’s production. If you need more persuasion, though, read on for more thorough discussion of those influences.

You’ve probably seen some of the Carpenter influence already if, instead of going into the film blind, you watched one or more of the varying length trailers. They evoke Assault on Precinct 13, frequently, corresponding to the early scenes of the soon-to-be-abandoned Hospital besieged by a silent but gathering external threat (which doubles as a reference to Carpenter’s Halloween, as each cloaked cultist is a silent blade-wielding menace).

Void Cultists

There’s also a ‘The Shape as Bed-sheet Ghost’ reference to the costumes.

 

The key difference, though: they’re not so much trying to get in as keep everyone from getting out, a fact not lost on the trapped cast. Though it’s well past halfway through the film before it’s articulated out loud by anyone: explanatory dialogue is generally sparse except when from the primary antagonist. The Void has very little unnecessary exposition, and honestly when you’re dealing with a film with mysterious cultists at the gates and unspeakable horrors stalking the halls, the less of a regular info-dump there is the better. Trying to explain that which is pretty much supposed to feel inexplicable might drag you right out of the willing suspension of disbelief. And then what?

Plot homages to Carpenter’s The Thing become evident right after the appearance of the first Void creature (also seen in the trailer). Here, The Void evokes Cronenberg’s version of The Fly, as well, in its practical design of the horrors stalking the hospital rooms and halls. There’s a more obvious thematic parallel to earlier works of Cronenberg, though, if not an especially as visually evocative one as to the previously noted Fly: his contributions to the body-horror canon through medical monstrosities, both of spontaneous mutation (Rabid) and of psychological deviance leading to mutilation (Dead Ringers). Exploring exactly how referential these works are, though, could lead to a big spoiler. So, too, would explaining too much of the influence that works of Lucio Fulci had on The Void, except to point to tropes that it and Fulci’s City of the Living Dead & The Beyond have in common with the wider Lovecraftian variety of cosmic horrors. I honestly wonder how long it will take before its own The Book of the Void (so named in promotional materials) winds up being referenced in some young Lovecraftian author’s list of Eldritch Tomes alongside the Liber Ivonis, Culte des Goules, De Vermis Mysteriis or Necronomicon.

That’s not the last clear film reference, but the very last deserves to be discovered without risking any obvious spoilers of the climax and film’s conclusion.

Qualitatively, The Void stands right alongside all of its influences rather than on their shoulders – it’s as good as the sum of its parts but to be brutally frank not much more. Your mileage on the film and potential for repeat viewings will depend almost exactly on how much of a fan you are of the films it directly or indirectly recalls: I most definitely am a fan of the lot, so that should explain to you the high score below (feel free to disagree though). It certainly helps a lot that the multiple styles of horror film – siege, body, cosmic – are quite seamlessly interwoven and contribute to one another organically. And being something of a patchwork of its influences is probably the most ‘meta’ recommendation The Void could possibly get. It works because it is many things at once, no part of which is designed to hold your hand and explain itself in relation to the wider narrative. Whatever the loose ends there are will be tied together by your own imagination. Ultimately, I think, you get from The Void what you put into it. No more, no less.

Hopefully there will be a non-UK Blu Ray in the not-too-far future. I for one expect plenty of repeat late-night viewings. The Void met and exceeded my expectations, and confirmed yet again why I think it’s so important to support independent films through their crowdfunding campaigns; whether pre-production, in production or post-production.

Void Poster

Every Tentacle has its Day (Apologies to LucasArts & Queen Liz via Shakespeare)

Also, if you happen to be somewhere The Void is playing on its Midnight Movie style circuit of limited engagements (literally one night only each), I can’t recommend enough that you go.


(Cover Image via) (Image1 via) (Image2 via)

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  • Señor Jefe El Rossover

    This is a movie that I would very much like to see.

  • “The Void has very little unnecessary exposition, and honestly when you’re dealing with a film with mysterious cultists at the gates and unspeakable horrors stalking the halls, the less of a regular info-dump there is the better.”
    This is extremely appealing. The Cure for Wellness sucked butt because it explained itself to death and back. Want 2 peep this movie.

    • Rain Poncho W.

      That’s incredibly annoying in horror films. I think part of the reason I enjoyed the obviously abstruse plot of Phantasm is because it doesn’t really explain anything. I watched some dumb movie on Netflix one night that had Cillian Murphy in it; at the end of the film, he actually explains the entire plot of the film to you in a monologue. It was a frankly insulting end to an already pretty bad movie.

      • That’s so damn frustrating. I think one of the reasons David Lynch films, for example, are so frightening is because they refuse to offer an explanation for the things you’re seeing. Fear is unexplainable.

        • Señor Jefe El Rossover

          Fear is also the mindkiller

        • frozengoatsheadupanunsarse

          That and the realistic (so to speak) nightmare imagery in Lynch films. I had nightmares with the sort of stuff in Inland Empire years before I actually saw it.

          • It’s the distorted faces. Very primal human fear.

          • Rain Poncho W.

            I read an interesting article about that in connection to Jacob’s ladder, I believe. I could be wrong, but I think that was the first film (or one of the first) to use the filming technique where the head is filmed shaking at a higher speed than the body, creating the effect of a person’s face distorting. It’s done very intentionally to cause unease, tapping into some uncanny valley stuff.

          • Rain Poncho W.

            Edit: I got it wrong; the head is filmed at a low frame rate.

            “All of the film’s special effect sequences were filmed in camera, with no use of post production effects. In several scenes of Jacob’s Ladder, Lyne used a body horror technique in which an actor is recorded waving his head around at a low frame rate, resulting in horrifically fast motion when played back. In the Special Edition’s commentary track, Lyne said he was inspired by the art of the painter Francis Bacon when developing the effect.[16] In his screenplay, Rubin used traditional imagery of demons and hell. However, Lyne decided to use images similar to thalidomide deformities to achieve a greater shock effect.[14] After many heated arguments,[2] Lyne managed to convert Rubin to his vision. Lyne and Rubin used the works of the artist H. R. Giger and the photographers Diane Arbus and Joel-Peter Witkin for inspiration; another influence came from the Brothers Quay’s 1986 stop motion short film Street of Crocodiles.”

          • Sid Vicious Promos

            I watched Jacob’s Ladder once. Great movie.

          • frozengoatsheadupanunsarse

            I found the essential look of the digital photography effective too. That whole bright, sharp, but off and unreal as well thing. I thought it looked a lot like the outside world looked when I’d been doing last minute uni work for 24/48/whatever hours straight and wasn’t really in the real world any more.

          • KJM, Doom Scientist

            I really hope Lynch is gonna go full Inland Empire with Twin Peaks season 3. We need it after waiting this long.

          • frozengoatsheadupanunsarse

            I hope he doesn’t hold back on whatever he’s been considering, certainly. On the other hand Inland Empire is maybe the most personally unsettling film I’ve ever seen so I might not enjoy something too much like that over a whole season.

          • KJM, Doom Scientist

            Not only does he not have to deal with ABC sabotaging him, Showtime even gave him a bigger budget when he threatened to walk. It’s safe to say what we see next month is 100% Lynch & Frost.

          • frozengoatsheadupanunsarse

            Very good sign!

          • GoatForest

            I got a buddy that has been trying to get me to watch that. I need to do so.

          • frozengoatsheadupanunsarse

            I certainly rate it highly. Real divisive one though, quite a bit more than other Lynch films. I’ve come across plenty who found it a real struggle.

          • GoatForest

            I’ll keep that in mind.

    • GoatForest

      That’s really dissapointing to hear about A Cure for Wellness. I have an infant, so theatres are a no go for me, and I was looking forward to seeing it when it came to dvd. Oh, well.

  • Holy shit, hi JWEG!! Excellent, excellent review. And a great movie too.

  • Rain Poncho W.

    Ayyyy, this was excellent. I’ve only heard a wee bit of chatter about this but will definitely be looking into viewing it.

  • frozengoatsheadupanunsarse

    Excellent review JWG79! I don’t often get excited about new horror movies these days (though I still faithfully go to Frightfest each year), but this has me real keen.

  • KJM, Doom Scientist

    This is a perfect B-grade midnight movie. If you like mid 1980s style supernatural horror, you’ll enjoy it just fine.
    The only thing it’s missing is the spooky Fabio Frizzi/John Carpenter style soundtrack.

    • Sid Vicious Promos

      They should have had Goblin do the soundtrack.

      • KJM, Doom Scientist

        They made this movie for relative pocket change. Any big name musician would have to refuse payment. That’s another amazing thing about this film. They made about $100K look like $1-2 Million.

        • Sid Vicious Promos

          That’s amazing. Hopefully this becomes a success.

          • KJM, Doom Scientist

            It already has, really. I’m curious to see how much it’s made so far though.

          • Sid Vicious Promos

            Well that’s good. I still wish any of the 3 bands formed out of members of Goblin would have done the soundtrack. Even Cherry Five would have sufficed because it’s the band Goblin formed out of.

  • Sid Vicious Promos

    I hope there’s a sequel to this.

    • KJM, Doom Scientist

      Fortunately imo, there really isn’t much in the way of room for one.

      • Sid Vicious Promos

        I haven’t been able to see it but if I get the chance I’ll watch it

        • KJM, Doom Scientist

          You can see it on Google Play, Amazon, YouTube, iTunes, lots of places.

      • JWG79

        I think some sort of spiritual cousin could work, where the Book of the Void pops up in a less direct way; but that’s as far as I’d go toward creating a larger mythos.

        A direct sequel seems like it would go against the spirit of the films it reflects (especially the very last one).

  • KJM, Doom Scientist

    Brookline even had it for Friday AND Saturday. Too bad the MBTA starts dying at 1230, even on the weekend.

    • JWG79

      Victoria Regional Transit is a bit like that, worse for certain cross-municipality runs than others: downtown to most (and vice versa) goes to 1 or 2 AM depending on the Season; but Oak Bay to downtown cuts off at like 9 and (direct) Downtown to south Oak Bay where i live at 11:30.

      • KJM, Doom Scientist

        For many parts of the Metro Boston area, bus service stops as early as 10 PM. Even if just Boston and it’s immediate border cities had service that went until 2 AM, that would make a huge impact.

  • KJM, Doom Scientist

    Watch The Void NOW.(scroll down for ways to watch via VOD)
    http://screenmediafilms.net/productions/details/2025/The-Void

  • JWG79

    Thanks for reading.

    I just noticed I left in the “score below” comment then forgot to add the line about the score I’d give it. Was supposed to be 4/5.

    • JWG79

      Also, I didn’t add much about style and visual aesthetic (apart from creature design), mostly because cinematography was well covered in the link from which I got the cover image. Read that too.

  • Waynecro

    Excellent review, JWG79! Thanks!

  • sweetooth0

    There is a North American bluray release coming out in may exclusively from Diabolik DVD. However, I kept my UK bluray pre-order in place because it’s a fair bit cheaper for me (total 19 CAD including shipping and the Diabolik release is 22 US before shipping).

    • JWG79

      https://68.media.tumblr.com/60cb181f9b68773459dac02966ed3baf/tumblr_ob9vlqKTVe1tugsgco1_500.gif

      I don’t have a region free player, and can’t justify getting a whole new device when I’m only tempted by UK versions once or twice per year for films that will come out here eventually thanks to one or another label. Even the niche ones do.

      What it then comes down to is “could I watch this enough times to justify the extra cost” (using the New Item rental fee at the one remaining video store per view).

      • sweetooth0

        totally, I just happened to recently aquire a region free player.

        • sweetooth0

          super cheap Seiki 4K upscaling model for 88bucks. Apparently it got rave reviews from a lot of the AV magazines, and I’ve been happy with it so far (except every region B release I’ve ordered to test it with so far ended up region free). Apparently you set DVD permanently to region free, and switch bluray regions using a remote code.

  • Great review, man. I will def check this out.