GHOSTS OF THE VOID Review: Sitting in Cars with Masked Boys

Tedra Millan and Michael Reagan star in the horror thriller, directed by Jason Miller.

Contributing Writer
GHOSTS OF THE VOID Review: Sitting in Cars with Masked Boys

A young married couple, Jen (Tedra Millan) and Tyler (Michael Reagan), park their car at the end of the street in a remote residential area, where, as they surmise, the only issue they might encounter is a wrath of a random neighborhood Karen.

The actual problem though, is the fact they are forced to spend the night in said car since they are currently living off it after long financial troubles and eventual eviction.

There is also an underlying issue of the boiling resentment between the pair, as Jen is constantly on the verge of a panic attack and Tyler tries to keep an optimistic façade while secretly sipping from his flask; the passive-aggressive tension is high. Tomorrow is supposed to be better and brighter as Jen and Tyler intend to come up with a plan to sort everything out – but tomorrow isn’t guaranteed when there is a group of assailants wearing Purge-style masks that lurks in the woods.

Ghosts of the Void is the debut feature of the writer and director Jason Miller who, thanks to his shorts, is no stranger to the horror/ thriller genres. His directorial debut seems to fit perfectly with the golden standard of the invasion movie canon that usually explores both the fragility of a body and of interhuman relations. It's right there with the above-mentioned The Purge, The Strangers and Vacancy – but with one conceptually important caveat.

Unlike the typical protagonists who get attacked in the sanctuary of their homes or hotel rooms they paid for, Jen and Tyler are sort of the strangers themselves. Their home ripped away from them, they feel like the outsiders ejected from the “normalcy” of the world, equally scared of the people in some seriously terrifying masks and the police, whom they decidedly refuse to call.

The opening quotation from George Carlin, ripping into the concept of the American Dream, is a giveaway of what’s to come, and Miller creatively rhymes the physical attack with the pressures of societal demands. Then again, there are those fragile human relationships.

Like so many horror films these days, Ghosts of the Void splits its time between the present and the past. Multiple flashbacks showcase both the happy times between the couple and the gradual unraveling of their relationship, with Tyler being preoccupied with struggling to make it as a writer and Jen preoccupied with everything else, trying to pay the everyday expenses and showing her husband unconditional support.

We mostly stick with Jen’s perspective, and it’s one of a person exhausted from having to constantly make decisions they are in no way equipped for. The topic of making choices (especially uninformed or enforced ones) is explored rather interestingly throughout the film, including a memorable episode where a character finally decides to demonstrate some agency, only to do it with incredibly lousy timing and unpleasant consequences.

With all its psychological and social undertones, Miller’s debut is definitely a slow burn, but it manages its running time graciously and effectively. Even before the action fully takes off, the masked creeps make strategic (and visually captivating) appearances, much like financial obligations, collectors or the fractures in a once loving relationship, they are simply there, lurking and looming.

Tension and anticipation often come off as more impressive and frightening then the actual payoff, but Ghosts of the Void does deliver a powerful resolution: while playing with various genre conventions and twisting them, this horror thriller confirms a longstanding suspicion: the scariest parts are always the ones that come straight from reality.

The film is available On Demand + On Digital as of Tuesday, November 7, 2023. 

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Jason MillerMichael ReaganTedra Millan

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