Something wonderful is happening in horror. From all around the world and right here on our own front doorstep, people are making amazing new horror films just like they did in the 70’s and 80’s. I’m not talking about remakes like the perpetual slew of updated (or outright exploited) classics like Nightmare on Elm Street or Halloween. I’m talking about actual well written, beautifully directed, stylized gore splattering horror featuring actual monsters, not CGI constructs drawn over a green screen. Nothing hails this new monster movie renaissance quite like The Void. The Void is a beautifully written and directed Lovecraftian cosmic horror set in a run down, fire-scarred hospital in the middle of a small county in the rural anywhere of America. The story follows a group brought unknowingly brought together by a doctor who has dove head first into the depths of lunacy to summon ancient gods in hopes of retrieving his dead daughter from the grips of death. The movie is drenched in homages to Cronenberg, Carpenter, Craven and all the other masters of horror from what is arguably the golden age of gory horror in the 1980’s. There are tributes to The Thing, Hellraiser, and Prince of Darkness hidden in the editing and dressing of the movie while telling a completely unique and haunting tale. But you didn’t come here to get my armchair cinematographer’s opinion, did you? No, you’re here for the monsters. Well, I do aim to please. Practical effects were the order in The Void with only a handful of scenes being shot with green screen animations. Every last drop of blood, tentacle slime, and brain matter was created by creature and makeup effects artists plying their craft in the most amazing ways imaginable. Usually, I’d take a few paragraphs to talk about my favorite monster but, with this movie, I’m going to have to go over every last one because they all warrant some valuable attention. The first ones that come to mind, naturally, are the zombies in the morgue. I call them zombies for the sake of understanding. They are, in effect, reanimated corpses devoid of any sentient thought beyond murder under the control of the insane Doctor Powell. While they are only a momentary foe for the protagonists, they’re definitely memorable. In the burned out remains of the morgue cast in a mixture of red road flare haze and shotgun mounted flashlight they wear a deep, bloody tint that only fades momentarily as the white beam of the torch on the end of the rifle shines across them. The introduction is made with a violent, wet sucking noise repeated thumping into our ears before the white beam cuts through the room to see a sutured together corpse, it’s face completely caved in, bashing itself into a broken water pipe. What follows are an assortment of horrors from obese, bloated creatures with blistered, flapping jowls and drooping faces to a blood-soaked, dead-eyed fiend with some sort of tube apparatus wired from its chest into its face. The final zombie to be featured was a broken body lying on the floor, the legs and arms pretzeled around behind it. The thing stands up, crab walking, and twists its head right side up (proportionate to its body) to come after our heroes. That in and of itself is enough to give you some pants wetting nightmares but that’s not even the scariest of beasts. The first monster we’re introduced to comes in the form of a nurse who slices off her own face before attacking a cop. A .40 caliber lobotomy leaves her down but not out as tendrils of some otherworldly monster begin to break through her face and gradually convert her body into what would best be described to Lovecraft fans as a shoggoth. With only her bare body and a ruptured face remaining of the woman she had been, worn like an ill-fitting apron over the bulbous bulk of the new form, she begins to murder and consume anyone within tentacle reach. Needless to say, she won’t be the last such monster we meet. Allison, the estranged wife of main character Daniel becomes host to another of Powell’s horrific experiments as he taunts her over the death of her infant son. The child, he points out, strangled on the umbilical cord as she gave birth, the lifeline between the mother and child being the unfortunate cause of death. He decides that she has earned a second chance at motherhood and as such creates another tentacle-armed spawn that will eventually erupt from her torso, strangle her, and spread it’s mucous dripping arms out to fill the room in some vile afterbirth. Still, though, not the worst instance of matricide in the film. No, worst maternal death goes to the deranged Maggie, a teenage girl brainwashed and impregnated by Powell whose unborn child is “blessed” with the spirit of the mad doctor’s dead daughter. In the scene, flashes of a gore-soaked and inhuman skull forcefully floating through an ocean of meat and red fill Maggie’s mind and prove to her, too late, that she’s made a terrible decision. Looking to the fallen Daniel, the cop who has been trying to keep everyone alive through the entire movie whom she only moments before stabbed in the back with a ceremonial dagger, she wordlessly pleads for help. In a shower of blood and erupting flesh, Maggie and Powell’s love child bursts into the world, a hideous, lumbering creature with a semi-human skull for a face on a deformed, cattle sized body covered is horrific apertures and tendrils. As it takes its first steps, the afterbirth still lingering to its body drag its dead mother across the floor behind it. Finally, let’s look at the man himself Doctor Richard Powell. Despite the exaggerated and over the top monsters he birthed throughout the movie, his look is hauntingly understated. Honestly, between the setting at his altar in the hidden room of the morgue and his overall presence, I’m reminded again and again of the revived Frank from Hellraiser. His skinless body is black with muscles and sinew painfully familiar yet alien at the same time. The lighting and setting makes it difficult to truly focus for long on his definite appearance and that seems to be by design. He reminds our protagonist Daniel that this flesh is only the beginning, that through death and his surrender to the abyss that he will be reborn. “A caterpillar becoming a moth,” he tells the dying Allison as the tendril monster that she has been impregnated with presses desperately at her stomach. The almost human appearance given the cruel and horrific nature of what he’s done makes him seem all the more terrifying and powerful. It honestly made me think of the way I felt the first time I saw Doug Bradley as Pinhead in Hellraiser. There’s a power in the simplicity. Fans of cosmic horror, gore, and monsters, this is what we’ve been waiting for. A movie that shot for shot harkens us back to the days of entertaining and accessible horror movies with tangible creatures terrorizing us around every corner. The movie is available to stream now so go check it out. Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.