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The Void (2016)

Movie poster for The Void

“You’d be surprised at the things you find when you go looking…”

WARNING: Spoilers ahead

This movie is one that I have been meaning to watch ever since it came out but, for a variety of reasons, never did—mostly just life getting in the way and leaving me with few big blocks of time when I can sit down and watch horror movies.

So I finally got around to watching The Void, and holy shit am I glad I did. I loved this movie!

A rural sherif picks up an injured stranger who has escaped from a couple of people trying to kill him. The closest hospital is about to be closed down but still has a skeleton crew—a doctor, a few nurses, a resentful intern, and a pregnant teenager and her grandfather. The people chasing the injured stranger show up and so does a creepy cult that is chasing them, and then all hell breaks loose. Literally.

This movie is like In the Mouth Of Madness combined with Aliens, with a bit of The Thing tossed in for good measure. I found it to be deeply creepy and pretty intense, but without the bleakness that pervades so much of contemporary horror cinema. The situation is dire and none of the characters handles it very well, but there is enough gonzo mayhem and creature-feature gore thrown in that it all plays against the tropes of grittier, more realistic contemporary horror. It is clear from fairly early on in The Void that things are not going to end well for most everyone involved, but I never felt gross or depressed for watching it.

I found the pacing of this movie to be just about right; I was never bored, but I also never felt like the movie was rushing ahead of itself. The 90(ish)-minute runtime is worth noting. With so many films these days running two hours and longer, I’m coming to think that ninety minutes is just about the perfect length for a movie; longer than that, and I often find myself thinking “This scene could have been shorter” or “Yeah, they could have left this whole part out.”1 It is definitely the right length for this movie, and I am glad they did not make it any longer.

If I had to point to any complaints I have about The Void, I suppose I found a few of the performances to be a bit over the top, especially the intern at the hospital who leans hard into the “I shouldn’t even be here!” vibe. I also thought that it did not make much sense that Vincent (one of the two mysterious characters who show up at the hospital around the time the mayhem begins) did not just tell everyone what was going on from the start but instead went with the “I can’t trust anyone and I’m just gonna keep glaring and pointing a rifle” approach. That felt a bit like it was fulfilling the needs of the plot rather than being something the character would actually do.

I’ll also say that this film runs into the same problem near the end that any Lovecraftian story does in a visual medium; when the horror comes from the mind-bending inconceivability of the Things From Out There, it falls apart a bit when you actually have to show them. I think The Void does quite well for the indie/modest budget production it is, but the final monster at the end is kind of ridiculous. I’m willing to give it something of a pass on that, though, given 1) how even big movies struggle with this problem and 2) the fact that otherwise, the practical effects and monster visuals are done really well.

Overall, The Void is a lot of fun (in a gross, squirmy, everyone’s-gonna-die sort of way, of course) and I recommend it.

  1. I generally feel the same way about most directors’ cuts and “extended editions” of films. There are exceptions, of course, but almost every time I watch an extended cut of a movie and the additional footage kicks in, it is pretty clear why it was left on the cutting room floor for the original theatrical release. James Cameron’s Aliens is the perfect example of this phenomenon; most of the added stuff in the extended version of that movie add almost nothing to the story—the possible exception being the bits about Ripley having had a daughter—and is mainly available because fans of the movie wanted MORE MORE MORE. ↩︎

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