After a massacre at an isolated farmhouse, a disparate group of 80’s stereotypes (the reluctant hero cop with “issues”, his ex-wife, an arsey student nurse, a pregnant girl and her protective grandfather, the country doctor, the massacre’s shifty junkie survivor and it’s two taciturn perpetrators) find themselves trapped in a deserted, soon-to-be-decommissioned hospital, besieged by an army of white-robed cult members with a triangle fetish who surround the building, while inside an undead, icky, tentacley Lovecraftian critter roams the halls infecting the trapped unfortunates, causing madness and eventually transforming them into…well, undead, icky, tentacley things.

As our heroes form an uneasy truce, banding together and battling to survive the night, it soon becomes clear that not just their lives and sanity are at stake but the fate of the world as an ancient rite nears completion in the hospital’s abandoned morgue. There are fates worse than death, places worse than hell…

The ‘80s were shit, let’s just get that out of the way right now. I don’t care how nostalgic you are for Spangles, He-Man cartoons and white dog shit; they sucked and your memories are shit and hollow lies. Not wearing socks with your espadrilles didn’t make you Sonny Crockett, ZX Spectrums were a pain in the arse and nothing makes up for that shell suit you wore, that mullet you sported or those stonewashed 501s you coveted. And, if you’re honest, you weren’t listening to arty Kraut synth rock on that Walkman, it was Kylie, Jason and Stock, Aitken & Waterman. Or worse 5 Star. And lets not forget the Cold War was still raging, Ethiopia was in the grip of a Biblical famine, the IRA were still blowing up parades, greed was good and we had Yuppies, Filofaxes, shoulder pads, AIDS, striking miners and Thatcher. And Rolf Harris and Jimmy Savile were the stars of children’s TV. The ‘80s were a bleak, terrible time to grow up and that’s why so many of us spent the ‘90s swallowing fistfuls of love drugs and flailing in a field while listening to shit music.

The sole bright spot of the whole decade was the video store. Long before Netflix and chill it was a hallowed brothel of cinematic delights, racks of glossy containers, Top Gun rubbing shoulders with Iron Eagle, E.T. and Mac And Me, no one put Baby in the corner, Ferris Bueller was way cool and ‘80s action stars like Stallone and Schwarzenegger had bigger tits than their female co-stars. But best of all were the horror movies. Video nasties and lurid splatterpunk. The gorier, the sleazier, the ickier, the better. Movies like The Thing and From Beyond. The Stuff and Basket Case. Killer Klowns From Outer Space. C.H.U.D. Phantasm. The Evil Dead. Hellraiser. Street Trash. Society. Lifeforce. Pumpkinhead. Italian cannibal and zombie flicks. The stories were tight, the atmosphere unsettling, the effects reassuringly icky and tactile and John Carpenter, Stuart Gordon, Lucio Fulci and Don Coscarelli were gods to be worshipped as regularly as your pocket money would allow. And now there’s a whole generation of filmmakers just like you who are reliving their childhoods through movies like Turbo Kid and The Guest, Under The Bed and The House Of The Devil, Bad Milo and Cold In July and of course the pinnacle of ‘80s hipster nostalgia, the TV bastard child of Stephen King and The Goonies, Stranger Things.

Written and directed by Canadian visual effects maestros Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski, The Void feels almost like a greatest hits of half-remembered ‘80s horror, a fever dream homage to Carpenter and H.P. Lovecraft that’s relentless pace and atmosphere of sheer wrongness makes up for its occasional lapses in coherence, particularly in its intense, bone-crunching, gore-splashed final act, as the film’s heroes are forced to descend into a murky, vaginal, neon-lit nightmare space, hacking and slashing their way through an army of gooey reanimated corpses and gruesome, lovingly handmade practical effects. Essentially a splatterpunk recycling of Assault On Precinct 13 with a stirring of The Beyond, The Void never lets up, dragging you to the edge of your seat and pinning you there for 30 minutes, plucking at your nerves and turning your stomach, and while the performances are decent, particularly from reluctant hero Aaron Poole and driven vigilante Daniel Fathers, it’s the effects that are The Void’s true stars Rob Bottin and Tom Savini-inspired explosions of blood and guts, whipping tentacles and moist squelching rubber and latex.

A creepy, tense, violent wallow in ’80s horror nostalgia, The Void may be more suited to being viewed on an unmarked bootleg VHS than your local multiplex but it’s the thrilling, grotty adrenaline hit you’ve secretly been craving.

Movie Review: The Void
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