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Review: The Void – Chattanooga Film Festival 2017

7.5

It’s a non-sequiteur to point out that modern horror films (The Guest, It Follows, Evolution to name but a few) owe a huge debt to the pioneers in the field like John Carpenter and David Cronenberg. Nowhere is that more apparent than in The Void, the new sci-fi horror film from writer/director Jeremy Gillespie.

A group of locals find themselves trapped in a damaged hospital that’s being closed due to a recent fire. There’s a threat outside (that I won’t spoil), and there’s a threat inside (that I won’t spoil) that may be even worse. As the narrative unfolds, there’s a mutating creature (The Thing), involuntary surgical experimentation (Deadringers), and creepy pregnancies that yield results that are less than human (The Brood).

Wearing your cinematic influences on your sleeve is not necessarily a bad thing. However, you need to bring something new to the dance if you lean so heavily on the tropes that horror audiences have seen time and time again. And that’s where The Void stumbles. Although it does many things very well, we’ve seen it all before.

I found myself wishing The Void was two films instead of one. The “outside” threat is straight up one of the creepiest set-ups I’ve seen in quite some time, but it’s mostly squandered when the film shifts gears to the “inside” threat and stays there. When all is said and done, the “outside” threat is little more than a McGuffin, a plot device to keep the characters trapped in the hospital. And, due to the presence of two distinct threats to our characters, The Void has a few too many plotlines that lead to too many climaxes during the third act of the film. Some of the storylines resolve satisfactorily and some fall flat.

That said, The Void is technically accomplished and very well executed from a filmmaking standpoint. There are some good scares, numerous moments of genuine suspense and the practical creature effects are top-notch. Lack of originality aside, it’s an above-average sci-if horror film that will keep fans of the genre entertained. While The Void may have fallen short in my opinion, writer/director Jeremy Gillespie clearly has talent, and I look forward to seeing what he does next.




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