Monster movies aren’t hard to come by in the horror world, they’re surprisingly quite the dominator within the genre, however, that doesn’t mean they’re leading with example. When we look at horror, most of its origins are drenched in swamp-clad, moon howling, blood thirsty and skin grafted creatures of the night that play on our internal fear of encountering something that cannot be explained by logic. The Universal monsters always make their way back around in some form or another, because for many filmmakers it’s far easier to put an innovative twist on an already existent monster, than it is to imagine something so fresh and unique that it will horrify viewers. That’s where we come to The Void, which is undoubtedly one of the most terrifying monster movies to slither and engorge every creature feature that has been released in recent years.
Officer Daniel Carter begins his evening in a careless manner, waiting for something to happen in the sleepy town that would only usually present a police officer with something as mere as an unruly swan on the lose. When he finds a bedraggled and disturbed young man crawling in the middle of the road, looking like he’s just taken a short visit inside the mind of the most perturbed serial killer, Officer Carter realises he needs immediate medical attention. Dispatch explains the only closest hospital open is fairly unequipped and shortly staffed as in the coming days they will be relocating due to the building’s unstable condition. With no where else to take the dying man, Officer Carter runs with it and rushes him to the below par medical centre. Although slightly unsettling and a little dingy, the hospital staff, including the Officer’s estranged wife, take in the man without refusal. Situations rapidly spiral out of control as it becomes clear that something truly hellish is surfacing within them and around them
If there was a definition for the phrase “Well, that escalated quickly…” then you’ve just found it. There’s nothing more tedious than having to wait an hour, filled with pure drivel and nonsensical dialogue and plots, (Note: not relevant to films that gradually build tension and atmosphere through unnerving situations and language), until something worthwhile happens. The Void takes this advice and uses every piece of force it has to plough us into pure psychological, physical and experimental terror as Officer Carter is plunged into a real flesh and bone nightmare. The opening scene sets the tone for the entirety of the film as we see a distressed woman sprinting away from a house, only to be shot down by two men. As she exhales every breath through a set of bloodcurdling screams they begin to dowse her in petrol, which sets both hers and our expectations up for brutality. It’s not hard to guess what happens next, as she’s engulfed with flames that gradually and painfully burn away her skin, soul and screams into ashes. When the opener is as shocking as this, you know you’re heading to a dark place that you might not come back from.
As previously mentioned, monster movies are either awful or fucking amazing. Having watched this with my other half, who isn’t a horror fan whatsoever, it’s always worrying showing him something that I have a feeling could go either ways in terms of quality. We decided The Void was the film for our late night viewing (I couldn’t convince him that Be My Cat: A Film For Anne, would be something we could watch together…), and there’s something to be said when a very opinionated sci-fi fan who doesn’t really like horror films says that the film was “really fucking awesome”. When it comes to combining the elements of science fiction with horror, everything needs to be done explicitly well otherwise we’re left with something that tries too hard to meet up to the likes of classics and fails substantially. Inspiration from The Thing and Event Horizon have clearly been drawn to create this isolated lucid hospital Hell, drenched in transfigured and sickening body parts that are no longer recognisable, cult cladded dialogue that will chill you to the bone and some of the most unsettling cloaked figures that you could ever imagine. Just imagine if the KuKlux Klan had taken a voyage into the cosmos and returned with support and funding from some form of inter dimensional being, who informed them they’ll be enlightened for their irrational and inhumane cause.
It has been an exceptionally long time since I’ve watched a film that left me agape, reeling in moments that I never thought possible from that particular film. When watching something from CAT III, I already have a certain predisposed knowledge that the scenes I’ll witness will be completely vulgar, barbaric and will most likely ingrain in my mind forever. Maybe I went into The Void a little naive, having only seen the trailer once and just hearing generally good things, but the continuity and level of violence was shocking. It isn’t just the monsters themselves – love children between a back alley abortion from a women who conceived with Cthulu and Predator’s distant cousin, removed twice for being a little less than stealthy – that are grossly gory, but it’s also the bludgeonings that regularly occur. Rather than going down the traditional USA route and taking everything out with a gun, they utilise the sheer velocity of violence that comes with having to hack apart a squirming, pulsating, mass of tissue, bone and unidentifiable organic material with a half blunt axe. I must admit that there was pure, unadulterated happiness spread across my face and heart when the brutal massacre of this creature began with gore pouring and splattering from every orifice imaginable. Everything piece of cellular tissues that writhes in front of the audience was born from the hard graft and love of the special effects team, that are due a very big congratulations for keeping realism alive.
Although heavily saturated with gore and unflinching slaughter, The Void manages to scare the audience at the same time. Whilst we have all this nastiness coming at us like a blundering ball of fists from unsettling anger inside the hospital, on the outside, the atmosphere is dense with fear, anticipation and pure evil. Sometimes it’s not the madman with the axe running at you that’s the most terrifying type of adrenaline, it’s the shadowed figure stalking you from behind the tree line, that doesn’t make clear it’s intentions but offers an air of dread so powerful you know you’re sat waiting for something ultimately worse than death. As more and more of the ominous cloaked figures appear silently with only an atmosphere and tension offered by Hell itself, you’ll begin to feel your fingers gripping tighter and tighter to your security blanket (which happened to be a leg for me).
With not much left to say without giving anything away, which I would prefer to avoid, one thing I can say is that The Void is by far one of the most fearsome, gross, gory and enjoyable films of the last five years. With tones reminiscing the 80s sci-fi and horror movies, special effects that you’ll praise for years to come and a truly frightening outlook, this film will have you ripping your face off in delight.