Review by Derrick Carter
Running Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Directed by: Jeremy Gillespie & Steven Kostanski
Written by: Jeremy Gillespie & Steven Kostanski
Starring: Aaron Poole, Kenneth Welsh, Daniel Fathers, Kathleen Munroe, Ellen Wong, Mik Byskov & Grace Munro
While paying attention to genre films on the festival circuit, you tend to hear early hype about certain titles. Time passes and those movies usually become a tad overhyped by the time they’re released. THE VOID is a film that I’ve been hearing about for months now and I was very excited to see it. Having recently been let-down with the good-but-not-great RAW, I braced myself for a similar experience with this film. I’m ecstatic to say that THE VOID actually exceeds pre-release hype. This is a cinematic nightmare of otherworldly entities, disturbing developments, and mind-bending gore. To be perfectly blunt, it’s fucking awesome!
On a seemingly quiet night, Deputy Daniel Carter (Aaron Poole) comes across a bloodied, disoriented stranger (Evan Stern) on the side of the road. After rushing the man to a nearby understaffed hospital, things seem to be winding down…until a deranged nurse carves off her own face with a scalpel. Daniel and the small group of hospital inhabitants soon find themselves thrust into a waking nightmare as hooded cultists surround the building and something monstrous manifests itself. To say anymore, would spoil some of the fun.
THE VOID immediately struck me as something special when it opened with a literal bang and then smartly set up its characters. Exposition can be delivered in one of two ways. There’s the obvious dump of information (that usually feels forced) or natural dialogue between characters (which usually seems believable). THE VOID opts for the latter approach as it skillfully introduces its cast of survivors and victims. The film builds these characters up for a total of about 10 minutes (at most) before letting all hell break loose and becoming more chaotic with each passing second. The story’s breakneck pace was something that I wasn’t expecting at all and ultimately felt like a super freaky rollercoaster ride. There’s never a dull moment in this film.
The small group of characters are brought to life by mostly unknown actors. I don’t want to dive into specific performances, but I will say that nobody puts in a bad performance. I cared about each of these people, which made every death and “remarkable” transformation even more effective. My only problem with this near-perfect horror film comes in a handful of cheesy lines that may elicit some chuckles. These bits of questionable dialogue don’t put much of a damper on the plot’s nightmarish proceedings. In true Lovecraftian fashion, the ultimate threat is vague enough to remain mysteriously frightening and detailed enough to satiate enough of the viewer’s curiosity.
For a low-budget horror flick, THE VOID is surprisingly beautiful to look at. The cinematography is slick and the moody atmosphere lends to the Lovecraftian vibe that the film was clearly aiming for. The effects are mostly practical and look amazing to behold. This film’s many monstrosities are the direct results of what can be accomplished with some latex, make-up, and puppetry combined with a demented imagination. With reportedly over 80 gallons of fake blood used during filming, THE VOID also functions as a supernatural gorefest that should satisfy fans of films like THE THING and HELLRAISER. One specific character design seems to be ripped straight out of that latter film too and it is so friggin’ cool to look at.
THE VOID feels like the terrifying offspring of an orgy between H.P. Lovecraft, John Carpenter, Lucio Fulci and Clive Barker. Aside from a few questionable lines of dialogue, THE VOID is one hell of a horror movie! It might not work for everyone, but this film is likely to blow the minds of many 80s horror fans (especially if they love H.P. Lovecraft’s stories). I will definitely be keeping an eye out for what this director/writer duo produce next and I cannot wait to watch this flick again! THE VOID is an 80s horror throwback that proudly wears its influences on its sleeve, while also transcending into its own cinematic nightmare.