Spotlight: 'The Void'

The Void, a new horror film from directors Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski, is much more ambitious in scope than a standard horror flick; unfortunately, those high ambitions cause the film to miss a few of the targets it aims at.

The film uses a familiar horror setup: After police officer Carter (Aaron Poole) finds a bloodied man on a deserted road, Carter transports him to a run-down hospital. Soon thereafter, creepy hooded figures surround the hospital, locking the strangers inside together. They have two choices: work together to survive the night, or die.

Once the film moves past the cliches it has set up, it begins to build tension and becomes engaging on its own terms. When the film moves into its last act, however, the narrative tension deflates until the film transforms into a full-blown gore-fest. Fans of the genre won't mind, but casual viewers might be confused or turned off by the shift.

The Void's main horror plot revolves around a Cthulu-esque cult obsessed with transcending death, but the film never really explains anything about them. In a way, it's sort of bold; the film doesn't feel the need to rationalize the horror, which will please some viewers but frustrate those who want the film to answer its own questions.

Overall, The Void hits the mark in some places but misses it in others. For an indie film, the acting is better than expected, and the direction and cinematography are subdued enough not to distract from the movie's main focus. The practical special effects are also a nice touch; it's easy to see that the filmmakers have a soft spot for the visceral horror films from the '70s and '80s.

On the flip side, the writing can feel flat at times, leaving the characters as nothing more than tropes. The film also doesn't have as much of a narrative pull as other art-house horror flicks that have come out recently like Goodnight Mommy or The Witch.

The film's biggest issue is that it doesn't do much to differentiate itself from influences like The Thing, The Fly, Hellraiser and others. While entertaining, it doesn't seem to be interested in blazing new trails for the genre. By the time it becomes a showcase for the painstakingly crafted monsters, it's clear that The Void isn't more than an homage to the films that birthed it.

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