John’s Horror Corner: The Void (2016), the indie horror where The Thing’s (1982) practical effects meet Lovecraft and Barker!
MY CALL: This indie horror film performs wonders with a small budget, honors your favorite concepts of 80s horror and practical effects, and honors Clive Barker, John Carpenter and H. P. Lovecraft to end. MORE MOVIES LIKE The Void: The Thing (1982), the prequel/remake of The Thing (2011), Harbinger Down (2015)…but also The Fly (1986), Hellraiser (1987) and Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988). I’d focus more on the four 80s suggestions, even if you’re young and think “older horror” isn’t your style.
I’ve been waiting for this film for a loooong time—ever since I wrote Trailer Talk: The Void, an unfinished Lovecraftian horror labor of love that needs your help.
Small town sheriff Daniel (Aaron Poole; The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh) brings an apparently drunk, injured man to a hospital. Preparing to relocate, the hospital is running on bare essential supplies and minimal staff including Dr. Powell (Kenneth Welsh; The Exorcism of Emily Rose, TimeCop, Of Unknown Origin), nurse Allison (Kathleen Munroe; Alphas) and trainee nurse Kim (Ellen Wong; Silent Night).
Shortly after admitting the patient things get weird…fast! A nurse kills a patient and mutilates herself, the phones and even police radio go out, murderous cultists surround the hospital, the electricity goes out, and you know the Lovecraftian sh** has hit the fan when patient zero has bloody whipping tentacles emerging from his face!
The dialogue is really just passable with equally unimpressive writing (but a great premise), but I’m going to call this a great horror film anyway! Written and directed by Steven Kostanski (Manborg, The ABCs of Death 2 segment W is for Wish) and Jeremy Gillespie (Father’s Day)—two men reared on the creative and effects side of the camera—I am dying to see what they can do with a little more experience (now under their belt) and a bigger budget on their next project. And there better be a next project because, and I think I speak for all of us, we want more of this! Why? Because the effects were OUTSTANDING!!!!! Their premise was also a story I’d like to see further developed—but I can’t explain that without huge spoilers.
We graduate from some flailing face tentacles to a hulking, disfigured amalgam of human body parts and tentacles. It’s all practical effects and it’s all glorious. Even if clearly birthed from a humble budget, this is exactly what gorehounds want! When the creature kills, it pumps its tentacles down its victims’ eye sockets and other orifices so as to absorb more helpless cadaver into the monster’s mass. A head even emerges tearing its way out of the mutated body—much as The Thing (1982)—and we see lifeless, shambling mounds of reanimated undead flesh with melted mozzarella-gooiness.
The violence and gore includes loads of blood, wounds and flesh rending. There’s even something of a metamorphosis through a messy birth scene. But far more gratifying than the slimy masses of tentacles that await is the 80s homage to practical effects and iconic horror influences worn on its sleeve. Not just the conceptual aspects of Lovecraft’s madness or Clive Barker’s Labyrinth (here the Abyss) and even a touch of Evil Dead (1981), but we find special effects honoraria to The Fly (1986), Hellraiser (1987) and Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988)!
This film offers a lot…but it may not be what you expected. If you want to see something that will unnerve you and frequently make you jump—watch Life (2017). Want something with a slower tension built up through an atmosphere of uncomfortable mystery and dread? That’s The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016). No…this…this atmosphere is pure weird unsease…and it’s gross! As I hinted before on the writing, this is a passable movie…but a passable movie with outstanding special effects and an excellent premise that honors (not rips-off, but honors) all the things we love and miss about 80s horror. The ideas brought forth by these filmmakers are exceptional and I must see more projects spawned the Abyss.