Everyone loves a good zombie flick, especially at this time of year. Zombies are maybe the best cinematic device ever created to explore themes of survival, body horror and fear of the other. Zombies are grotesque and scary precisely because they are human beings with all their humanity functionally removed. A zombie movie can be a total bloodbath without making the protagonist seem cruel or vicious. The only way to survive a zombie apocalypse, after all, is with righteous slaughter. In The Void, her new film produced in partnership with New Form Digital, YouTube’s own Strawburry17, Meghan Camarena and writer Brandon Keckler, have found a way to turn that basic assumption on its head with a single question: What if the slaughter isn’t so righteous?
Camarena stars as Malia Sharp, a zombie survivor fighting to keep her young sisters alive in a post-human world. The twist is that Malia possesses a special gift, the ability to see a person’s single darkest memory simply by touching them. A simple brush of her hand can show her if the ravenous zombie clutching for her throat was once a murderer or a loving mother. Her unique talent forces her to consider not just her own survival, but the lost humanity of the zombies she must mow down to achieve it. She even raises the question of whether zombies might somehow be restored; a question rarely posed in a genre that leans heavily on kill shots and jumps scares.
Zombies are all the rage, especially at this time of year, and seeing a novel take on the genre is definitely a treat. Meghan tackles her role as a capable but conflicted zombie slayer deftly with an assist from Alexa Sutherland and Hanna Shelter as younger sisters Jessa and Clio. If this film has a flaw it’s only that I would love to see more of this world in which zombies might be more than just vicious animals, but human beings worthy of redemption or rescue. It clocks in at just under seven minutes but you should expect to find yourself re-watching.