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The Void (2016)

The Void (2016)

Rating: ***1/2

I wonder if the ending of "The Blair Witch Project" permanently spooked horror directors into showing too much in their third acts. "The Void" perfectly matches the tone of low-budget, indie horror flicks from days gone by for two-thirds of the film, the third act loses the tension that makes the first two acts so damn scary. 

That doesn't ruin the movie, as it's gross and spooky enough to keep things interesting, but let's be honest: we've seen disgusting, cult movies before. Unfortunately, "The Void's" take on mad science meeting the supernatural isn't enough to make the prolonged third act all that intriguing. This isn't a unique problem: it seems almost common these days for a horror film to fumble around in the dark for an ending, it's just especially disappointing when the beginning is so good.

So let's focus on the beginning, because boy it's a good one. The pacing of "The Void" is spectacular, and the writing is solid as well. Everything  about the first two acts of the film feels effortless. Characters are introduced, backstory is developed and, naturally, shit starts to hit the fan.

A nice collection of character actors, led by Aaron Poole (but highlighted by the fabulous Kenneth Welsh) brings you into the fold in the Canadian horror picture directed by Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski. They use a nice collection of creature effects inside of a great set (you can't go wrong with an abandoned hospital) to set a killer tone for the film right off the bat. 

They do all this with a less-is-more approach. The dialogue moves the plot along without becoming a distraction, the characters don't have breathtaking depth but aren't caricatures either and the antagonists look suitably creepy. "The Void" has a lot of stuff working for it; it's not a perfect movie, but it's a great way to kill 90 minutes. 

Or, at least 60 minutes. While the first hour features a group of survivors fighting through an abandoned hospital, the final 30 tries to explain the supernatural side of the film's mythos. What "The Void," and other films like it, fail to recognize is we don't really need everything explained in such grand fashion. I'm all about a little scenery chewing, but in a movie that uses tension so effectively, it's a shame to see a horror film turn into an action flick in the final 20 minutes.

It's a relatively small quibble, and merely something that keeps a good movie from turning into a very good one. If you're looking for something to give you a jolt this weekend, "The Void" is as solid a choice as you're going to find. 

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