We live in a time in which it’s all been done. There’s not a horror film to be made that would pose a new threat to its audience. We’ve survived hordes of the undead countless times over again. Defeated ancient curses and the tombs that encompass such. Serial Killers have been reduced to petty thugs and monsters tamed before our unscathed eyes. Well, as revelation would have us realize, it’s never been about the new experience, but the successful rendition. This is 2016, a year in which Green Room proved to be one of the most frightening experiences I’ve been lucky enough to sit through. Why though? Well, if I were to pinpoint anything on the matter, it’d be the reality of such a situation. I’ve always been uneasy around violent people and the cultures they’re endlessly devoted to. A chamber thriller in which the heroes are outnumbered against a small army of well-armed neo-nazis is about as scary as it gets. Switch it out with a werewolf pack or vampire clan and fantasy takes hold and secretes the alternative aroma of “fun” as opposed to “fear”.
Why am I talking about Green Room though? “Hey Spork Guy, I thought this was a review of The Void!?” Yes, you’re correct about that sir. I’m just so happy that I’m able to compare the way I felt about Green Room to this film in particular. The Void is a horror film directed by Jeremy Gillespie & Steven Kostanski. There names are most recognizable through there work as part of the synonymous film crew, Astron 6. This however, is easily a major departure from their previous & more humorous outings. The plot pits a rag tag group hold up in a dingy rural hospital again far too many threats to properly count. In other words, it does a great job at including something for everyone’s personal taste, without feeling over-bloated at all(a murderous cult being my own mainstay without question). Starting out as a routine cop thriller, Officer Daniel Carter(Aaron Poole)brings a wounded man found in the woods to a local hospital. As the staff of this hospital are introduced(most notably Dr. Richard Powell played by Kenneth Welsh), we learn that the moral of the film revolves around the loss of Officer Carter’s young daughter. Normally, the narrative would delve a little deeper into this subplot, but sadly, the hospital is now surrounded by a frightening, masked, knife-wielding cult. Thus, we have 2016’s third great entry into the chamber thriller genre(along with The Invitation and Green Room).
It is here that the story quickly establishes the inclusion of Body Horror and Home Invasion Thriller elements into the mix. A seemingly mad duo break into the hospital, desperately trying to kill the wounded man from earlier, as if they know something about him that the nursing staff does not. With shotgun in tow, the viewer now must decide if the cult or these possible serial killers are the bigger threat. The answer may just as well be neither, as the spirit of H.P. Lovecraft soon takes hold of the movie itself. The corpses of the film’s deceased soon reanimate, not as zombies, but as hulking Cronenbergian beasts of marvelous proportions. It is here that no viewer cannot sit in awe of The Void’s wonderful use of practical effects. I can’t even fathom the breath of fresh air it truly displays, having been surrounded by CGI laden productions for sometime now. It’s not only the horrific organisms that deserve praise, but the set design as well. As our protagonists venture further into the depths of the hospital’s basement, we see that it has undergone a hellish transformation of its own. Once a creepy-enough-as-it-is underground medical space, now a neon colored glimpse into Hades incarnate. Sadly, the film all boils down to a massive all-out bloodbath that never comes to fruition. However, what we lose in flash, we earn double in a dim sense of hopelessness.
The film’s visual and auditory executions are wonderful, sporting a fittingly fantastic soundtrack by a rather large roster of composers. However, some story elements would be a little less than exemplary. For instance, introducing and establishing new characters with the sole purpose of killing them off right away has never been most people’s favorite approach to advancing the plot. Though it does make for a good chance to brutally tear someone apart without much narrative collateral, that – in the end – is all it’s good for. Some editing also feels a little choppy at times(in a scene involving a sheriff being dragged away by a monster). This is mainly because it forces the audience to wonder if it was an untraditional creative choice or if a couple pick-up shots were left un-obtained. I know this, because of the many audience members who agreed to feeling the same way after the screening. Some of the film’s primary scenes tend to also be major homages to the horror genre. Many attending viewers got the vibe of a rip-off of multiple films of the same genre, but I beg to differ. This was not a cinematic heist, but a tribute to the many film’s to have potentially inspired it(Dead & Buried, The Thing, Event Horizon, Prince of Darkness, just being a few of them I noticed). Although Jim Jarmusch said it best, I still like to reiterate the technique of utilizing whatever attributions that make your own idea greater than it already was to begin with. Especially if it ends up looking this good!
The Void is a film very much worth renting ASAP, once VOD markets have it fully loaded. If you’re a fan of old school practical effects and true nightmare fueled imagery, this is a necessity for you as a consumer to support. For it is through films like this that we will not only see an influx in the techniques used here, but we will keep said techniques alive in general through the amazing act of influence. Considering this film was a crowdfunded effort, I have my hopes that we truly are on the right track. I guess there’s just nothing wrong with advocating the importance of true horror filmmaking either way.
– The Spork Guy