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.


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.




Can you learn to love horror?

“STEM” by Austen Mengler

I have had a few people in my life ask me about my love for horror in arts. I am not going to write about people who share my interest but about those who have seen or read a few horror stories but did not like them (or even resented them). Some of them have this idea that there must be something wrong with me enjoying stories that they find repulsing and unpleasant. Then, out of curiosity or real interest, they ask me to recommend them a good horror movie (or a story) that would help them understand why I think horror is such a great genre. I feel like this is such a tricky question as I have to ask myself if someone who does not naturally incline towards art horror can learn to truly enjoy it. Sure, one can probably learn to appreciate some aspects of horror movies or literature, for example, well written characters or a storyline. But can they truly learn to appreciate and love the emotion that such images of horror provoke?

I find this to be less than believable. I think that one has to be simply born with it. It seems that people who ask for such recommendations expect to suddenly fall in love with the genre, they expect to become enlightened, or have some sort of epiphany about the essence of the genre.

This does not mean that in my opinion people who cannot appreciate the genre are readers or audiences of lesser value. I do not hold this opinion despite many people accusing the horror genre of being overridden with cliches and predictable plots and its audiences of being weirdos who cannot appreciate “true” art forms.

There are horror books/movies/paintings that are better executed than others but I do not believe that there is anything inherent to the genre that would make it less sophisticated than other genres. However, I do think that the emotion can be too much for some people to handle. In the end, the images and strategies of the horror genre aim to incite feelings of discomfort and disgust. A tolerance for such emotions, the ability of being comfortable with them and a motivation to seek them out so they can be experienced again and on different levels cannot be obtained by force.


COLDER: Toss the Bones (2015) and soothing madman (no spoilers review)

Today I visited my favorite shop in town: Comics City (Olomouc, Czech Republic). I needed to take my mind off some matters and decided buying a few comics (and a Harley Quinn keychain) would help with that. Buying make up was my retail therapy for past 12 years, but things changed since the beginning of 2016. I am not complaining. I have rediscovered my passion for reading and it has made me feel more like myself again. But now to the point…
12523874_10208567832184109_8345527500993126821_nRight now, my purchase strategy is as following: I go straight to the “cheap comics” and “new” sections. I check all comics they have there and when I see something I like but I am unfamiliar with I go online and search for reviews. This is why I bought Colder: Toss the Bones (2015) and Outcast (2014–). I liked the cover of VWars (2014), the reviews seemed OK and because I am into vampires I decided to buy it. It cost me cca 1,50Euro so why the hell not. I also bought Mars Attacks: Greatest hits (?) because I liked the movie and absolutely adore the design of the aliens. Again, 1,50Euro.

I already read all of them, each one being issue 1, and I absolutely fell in love with Colder: Toss the Bones by Paul Tobin. First, I was already sold when I saw the cover page and art by Juan Ferreyra. I have to admit that it reminded me of the Joker in Death of the Family but this lunatic on the cover of Colder: Toss the Bones was charming on his own and I was curious, very curious, to know his story. Toss the Bones is a follow up story of the original Colder (2012) series and Colder: The Bad Seed (2014). So far, I have only read Toss the Bones, and as I am writing this blog post I know I will be going back to the beginning and read the first two series EDIT: I have read them all now, and COLDER series is one of the best things I have ever read (I am high on COLDER and I will write more articles with in-depth reviews and analysis). No, I absolutely do not mind the reversed order.

Colder: Toss the Bones has 5 issues and reads well. I have to admit, I only bought the first issue and read the rest of them online. There are two reasons for that. First, they did not have other issues in the store. Second, I would not be able to afford it if I also wanted to buy multiple different comics. That is why I usually buy first issues only and finish the rest at home, on my computer. However, if I like a comic, I will eventually get all issues. I just cannot get them all at once.
The antagonist of the story is called Nimble Jack and he is a gourmand with a particular taste. Eating humans is not exactly what makes him happy; it is a particular characteristic that humans possess that he cannot resist and must feed upon.

His playful and innocent personality paired with all characteristics of a lunatic make him a very likable madman character if you are into those (I am). He also does not play favorites nor makes exceptions. I also found I could not exactly predict his next move. All I knew was that it would be funny in a twisted but enjoyable way. However, I am not sure if I would want him as a roommate (this is a reference to the story).

If you like madmen characters who are charming and deadly then you definitely need to read the series. The protagonist, Declan, is also very well written. I understood his motivation and felt happy when he was happy and felt sad when he knew he might lose everything in order to defeat Nimble Jack, who moves from one realm to another.

The solution and conclusion was well done and thought out and left me feeling satisfied. I could actually read more! Next Colder story please! I want to spend more time in the world with Nimble Jack, a gourmand performer. At times, it felt like the perfect one man horror show. I do not want to give away too much, but I applaud the creator of Nimble Jack for coming up with so many different ways to kill a person and make the reader laugh with Nimble Jack. The humor is genius. The comic is not about killing only, though. It is about our sanity and I dare to say it will make you rethink your own tastebuds. What makes your hunger go away?

The art should also persuade you to read this comic if somehow the story itself would not be enough. I mean, look at this:

24_02     Colder - Toss the Bones 001-022.jpg

All and all, Colder: Toss the Bones receives 5/5, 100 out of 100 and all points all houses from Harry Potter would ever receive. I love these characters who are set in a universe which compliments their uniqueness.