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A Pair of Afterlife Trailers: “The Discovery” and “The Void”

A pair of off-the-radar film released trailers recently, and both of them appear to offer something interesting for the fan of genre film.  Each also, in their own way, use concepts revolving around the afterlife as major plot elements.  These films are The Discovery and The Void.  This will be a short piece introducing each of these films and their trailers, and offering a few stray observations about what we’re seeing (and what other people have been saying).  Here we go!

The Discovery (Netflix, Release Date:  March 31st)

The Discovery premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, and stars Rooney Mara, Jason Segel, Robert Redford, and Jessie Plemmons.  As becomes clear in the trailer, the film is about a doctor (Redford) who discovers that the afterlife is real, and upon returning back to our reality finds that droves of people are committing suicide in order to reach the afterlife sooner.  Segel plays the son of this doctor, who falls in love with a woman with a tortured past (Mara).

The trailer shows off some quality acting from Redford, which we should all expect.  By contrast, Segel and Mara don’t get much to do here, so I am a little worried that their on-screen chemistry may be a little lacking if the trailer is this sparse.  Early reviews from Sundance have claimed that this relationship is one of the weaker points of the film.

There seems to be a number of peculiarities in this film, as things run backwards or repeat, and I guess it isn’t really ever clear if we’re looking at the living world or the afterlife in any particular shot.  After watching the trailer, I’m not quite sure if we’re getting a sci-fi romance closer to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, or Passengers, but I am interested in checking this flick out, especially since I can do so on Netflix.

The Void (Cave Painting Pictures, Release Date: April 7th)

Okay, so maybe it was cheating a little bit to say that The Void deals with the afterlife.  But it seems pretty clear to me that there is some ghost/demon/zombie type shit going on in this bizarre The Thing-inspired body horror film.  The writer-directors (Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski) are both art department people with very few directing credits to their names, but they aren’t absolute novices, either.  Horror (or genre in general) is a great first-film anyway, as we’re reminded that The VVitch was Robert Eggers’s first feature.

Back to The Void.  When a movie is compare to The Thing, you sit up and pay attention.  Even in this quick little teaser, it is quite evident that such a comparison is warranted, at least from a visual effects standpoint.  Whatever monsters are at work here, and whatever horrible things they do to these hapless fools, there is that Carpenter vibe to them.  I’m also quite intrigued by the weird cloak people, who are sure to be an solid cheap Halloween costume this year.  I get the general feeling that this film could go in a million different directions, and that’s pretty cool.

Could The Void end up in jump-scare doldrums?  Certainly, anything is possible at this point.  But from the looks of this trailer, high in atmosphere and weirdness, it seems much more likely that it will be the perfect kind of creepy.  Early reviews suggest the latter, as the film boasts a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes (though, with only six reviews so far, so temper those expectations a bit).  Regardless, this is a film to keep your eyes on.

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Derek Jacobs

Chicago,IL 60606

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