Jessica's July Pick
When Kelly and I decided to give ourselves a free month to do whatever we wanted for our one year anniversary of the Spinsters of Horror, I was really excited because there was an opportunity for me to choose whatever I wanted to talk about for my monthly pick. And that goblins and ghouls are 2016’s The Void.
I love this film! I think it is brilliant, engaging, visually appealing and, damn, just so Lovecraftian! Anyone who knows me knows I am a fan of H.P. Lovecraft and anything inspired by him. I talk a lot about this in episode nine of I Spit on Your Podcast when we discussed Comic Horror and Insanity in reference to John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness and At The Mouth of Madness. While yes, he was a problematic individual and I certainly do not share any of his societal beliefs, his imagination created a terrifying world of cultists, Elder Gods and cosmic horror. So take this Lovecraftian element, mix it with work inspired by Cliver Barker’s Hellraiser and John Carpenter's The Thing and you get The Void.
For those of you not aware of this film, it was written and directed by Steven Kotanski and Jeremy Gillespie who are a part of the Canadian film and production company Astron - 6. Astron-6 is well-known among the Canadian horror community for producing low-budget, 80’s-centric independent films that combine horror with comedy such as Manborg, Father’s Day, and The Editor. The Void was a break from their traditional style by adding in a serious supernatural horror film that follows a small group of people trapped in a rural hospital by gathering hooded cultists and grotesque creatures. It premiered at the 2016 Fantastic Fest, then had a limited theatrical release in the United States and Canada. This crowdfunded film (an alternative source of funding used via the internet by small to large groups of people) received positive reviews from critics while being compared to many well-known horror films of the 1980s.
I saw The Void at the Mayfair Theatre here in Ottawa when it was released in 2016. I was just at the beginning of diving into my horror journey and starting my old podcast The Dark Spectrum. I had read about the film online and in Rue Morgue Magazine and the moment I heard it was being compared to Lovecraftian horror, I knew I had to see it. I was also completely engrossed in reading Lovecraft at the time for a monthly book club, so it just seemed like perfect timing. I was drawn into the film from it's acting, score, atmosphere, and practical effects. This movie doesn't shy away from using such practical effects reminiscent of body horror masters like John Carpenter and David Cronenberg. No special camera effects were used to obscure anything - the horror is front and center and you just can’t look away. Critics and some horror fans have given this film low ratings and reviews because they are either confused by the plot or feel that the characters and relationships are not developed enough. I then like to ask, “Are you familiar with tH.P. Lovecraft?”. If so, then you will know that is what adds to his brand of cosmic horror. The focus of his work is less on the characters and more about the elements of being surrounded by an overarching, unstoppable horror either presented in his monstrous creations or cultists who frequent his stories. His writing leaves the rest of the story up to the reader’s imagination influenced by the terrific imagery he creates. It is what draws me to read his work and seek out films like The Void and other Lovecraftian inspired horror movies such as Event Horizon, At The Mouth of Madness, Re-Animator, Dagon and more.
I know fans are clamouring for a sequel but honestly, I am happy with it being the stand-alone film as it is. The film ends in a way that leaves it up to the imagination of the viewer, which to me can be much scarier then what can be displayed on the screen.