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This movie will totally prey on your irrational fear of triangles.

The Void is a movie where it is best to go in without knowing too much. However, to make sure the right people see this I will say up front that if you like cosmic horror (Lovecraft and/or Stephen King) and John Carpenter’s horror classic The Thing you are primed to love this. It was made for you.

Beyond its horror pedigree and fairly game achievement of its ambitions, it is interesting to note that The Void is a partially cowdfunded film. That’s pretty cool to think about since not only are practical-effects driven movies like this one fairly rare nowadays, crowdfunding proves there’s both an appetite for them and the potential for more to be made.

Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski wrote and directed the hell out of this film. It has a fairly simple, straightforward premise that unfolds into truly eerie territory. One of the best things about it is that it gets at ya fast and often, spending only the minimal time on set up before getting into the good stuff. If you’re tired of horror movies that wait too long to show some monsters or tip the hand of weird shit going on, you’ll like the way this one is structured.

THERE ARE SPOILERS… IN THE VOID.

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Iconic imagery sometimes?

Oh man. This is starting to get old. 2015 is the year of genre movies that people begin sharpening pitchforks over months in advance, then eviscerate on release… whether they deserve it or not. The most egregious example of this was Jupiter Ascending because that one is pretty much a great movie, where as Chappie was seriously flawed. Which, by the way, so is Fantastic Four. Why it has dethroned Jupiter Ascending as the most egregious example of anticipatory hate unleashed without due diligence is simple. I think it’s obvious that the main thrust of the premature negativity for this movie, which followed it from inception, is basically “how dare anyone but Marvel make a Marvel movie?”. And this did not happen in a vacuum. Fox’s cynical attempts to maintain the right to these characters and stories are well known and lends a lot of skepticism to any attempts they may have made to do an honest to fuck movie with it. If Fox fails to produce stuff, the rights default back to Marvel and there’s a strong and mostly right-minded current of interest in all the Marvel going home sooner rather than later. But caught in the crossfire between the social context the movie was made and released in, and the hatchet-holders at Fox who obviously mangled it before release, is a budding filmmaker named Josh Trank who once made one of the best “original” (as in, not tied directly to any existing source material) superhero movies ever: Chronicle. This is only Trank’s second movie, and it has possibly crippled or killed his career to make it.

What makes this all the worse, though, is that this movie has many of the same problems that a lot of Marvel’s movies have… particularly an underdeveloped villain and cynically bombastic third act “superhero’s doing super shit” sequence. If this had been a Marvel movie, all would have been forgiven. I strongly believe that because, well, look at Ant-Man.

But anyway, that’s enough of the context. I’ll focus on the movie we got as much as possible from here on. The first thing to say is that Fantastic Four is nowhere near as bad as people are saying. Not even close. In fact, the first 2/3 of the movie work exceptionally well and even the last 1/3, which pretty well everyone agrees is half-baked garbage, has a few glimmers of something better in it. Some of my reaction can be attributed to genuinely lowered expectations, not only because it’s hard to remain optimistic (I don’t care about the Fantastic Four as an IP, but I did/do care about Trank and all the lead actors) in a release environment as bloodthirsty as this movie’s, but also because the reviews I did read made many salient points about where Fantastic Four goes off the rails in spectacular fashion… and I still agree with many of those.

And yet… and yet… this is still the best Fantastic Four movie. The one thing the old ones had, and I didn’t hate those, was a level of camaraderie and charm brought mostly to the table by Chris Evans and Michael Chiklis (Ioann Gruffud was a potato then and always, Jessica Alba was terribly miscast). That element is also a big part of why the Marvel movies are forgivable even when they are lazy, compromised, or make shortcuts (which is less all the time). Fantastic Four has some of that, and probably more that was cut, but the attitude behind it is very different. Where the old movies were closer to Raimi’s glitzy family-friendly aesthetic, 2015’s Fantastic Four has a very dark heart where the humour and wit of the characters has little in common either with Marvel’s pseudo-comedy approach or DC’s ultra-dour approach. This is something else, which again… works very well until it doesn’t. Read the rest of this entry »

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