The Void (2016): The battle between SFX and storybuilding (no spoilers)

I recall film critics’ initial reactions when The Void first premiered at the festivals around 2016. This reaction was that of an overwhelming support and enthusiasm. It seemed as if The Void was going to follow the success of movies such as It Follows (2014), The Babadook (2014) or even The Neon Demon (2016). Although each of these movies had its weaknesses, they were captivating endeavours with their own fresh approaches. It Follows took some inspiration from the horror and young adult films of the 80s and 90s, The Neon Demon reminded viewers of beautiful color schemes and movies of Dario Argento.  Nevertheless, the films did not simply recycle what was created before; they came up with their own approach to the stories; they used and enriched the old with their novel vision.

Void 01The Void is also reminiscent of the horror movies of the 80s, such as The Fly (1986, or any other David Cronenberg movie), Hellraiser (1987); or even the movies that premiered at the very end of the seventh decade of the last century, for example, Alien or Phantasm (both 1979). The Void is a child of Steven Kostanski and Jeremy Gillespie. Watching the extras on the blue ray edition of The Void convinced me even more about the already evident talent of the two creators. The practical special effects are absolutely stunning and their passion is evident and present in the movie from the beginning to the end. The behind the scenes extras reveal multiple troubles (mostly time and money) that complicated their work, however, non of this is felt by the audience when it comes to SFX (Gillespie and the rest of the SFX and art team won’t let you forget their stunning  and threatening creations).

Sadly, the storyline suffers from a lack of attention that has been almost exclusively directed at the special effects. The pacing is one of the main problems. From my perspective, the sequence ordering was too out of place and it prevented me from feeling any deeper concern for most of the characters (and what was going on with the fictional world in general). In other words, my brain objectively understood the story, but my heart was not involved; I did not FEEL it. There are simply too many things going on (too many secrets, too many opened doors…) which do not lead anywhere. Cliche lines and transparent motifs (motherhood) that are presented in an obvious and unsurprising manner do not help the movie. First part of the movie is probably my favourite one (in its entirety), although there are various favourite moments throughout the entire film; however, these are scattered here and there and the second and the third act does not work as a whole. While I am generally OK with movies ending with unanswered questions, the movie does not even articulate which question(s) lacks the answer.

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Luckily, the team of actors did an amazing job and gave a lot of depth to the individual characters (casting by Van Echeverri and Casey Walker). The actors are the second strongest aspect of the movie.

To conclude, the visual practical effects and the team of actors are the strongest elements, however, the movie is mostly an homage to its predecessors and barely brings anything novel. Nevertheless, it proves that practical visual effects can be believable, spectacular, and threatening, even in the time of HD cameras (I am looking at you major blockbusters). It confirmed to me that most major production companies and studious are simply too lazy or unwilling to invest into quality work. Lastly, the movie also demonstrates that visual part of the film alone does not a great movie make. The movie was crowdfunded on Indiegogo, which was a good choice and I hope when the pair makes another movie I will find their Indiegogo on time and will be able to make a contribution myself (I had no idea about The Void Indiegogo campaign when it was still ongoing). I hope that Kostanski and Gillespie will produce more amazing visual movies but also amazing story telling movies. I enjoyed The Void and I hope you can too, despite its shortcomings.

-TheUncannyGirl

the-void

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