The Void REVIEW
Release: OUT NOW
Writers/directors: Jeremie Gillespie,Steven Kostanski
Starring: Aaron Poole, Evan Stern, Kathleen Munroe, Daniel Fathers, Ellen Wong, Kenneth Welsh, Amy Groening, Stephanie Belding, Art Hindle, Grace Monroe
Daniel Carter (Aaron Poole) is marking time until the end of his shift. All that changes when James (Evan Stern) stumbles out of the woods. Terrified and bleeding, James passes out and Daniel rushes him to the nearest hospital. But that’s where his estranged wife Allison (Kathleen Munroe) works. It’s the last place Daniel wants to go, and by the end of the night, it may be the last place he ever sees…
Written and directed by Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski, The Void is an old-school horror movie with a very modern bite and tone to it. The premise is equal parts Assault On Precinct 13 and The Thing, with Daniel, Allison and a small group of almost certainly doomed characters trapped in the partially abandoned hospital and surrounded by cultists. Their world, and the world of the movie, is claustrophobically small and Gillespie and Kostanski do a great job of using that to ramp up the tension. One of the most gripping scenes is nothing more than a run to a car. One of the best jokes is nothing more than a gurney being shoved out of a door. One of the best scares is the discovery of a stairway where they could not possibly be one. These people are trapped in a tiny corner of a malicious universe and their slow realisation of how much trouble they’re in is great fun to watch.
That tension is cleverly tied to the puzzle box element of the plot too. Without giving anything away, several of the characters you meet in the opening minutes do not have the loyalties they seem to. Gillespie and Kostanski again do a great job of building this multi-layered tonal mystery that combines crime, action and Lovecraftian horror to create a film which feels like a brush against something massive and alien and unknowable. The third act in particular has some great visual subtlety to it as sets changes depending on the point of view we’re following. Better still, character backstory is revealed via implication and action rather than exposition. This is especially true of Vincent, played by Daniel Fathers. He’s spiky and professional and clearly utterly terrified. The way his story is unpacked is the film’s strongest point and he’s the character that stays with you after the credits roll.
The Void does have problems, though. There are a couple of moments where the admirably practical effects not only fall down but the film tries, and fails, to cover that. It also embraces a few of the ’80s body horror tropes too enthusiastically with all but one of the female characters reduced to either agency-less victims or wombs with dialogue. In some ways that’s a feature not a bug for this story. In every way that matters, it shouldn’t be.
Despite that, The Void is absolutely worth your time. It’s incredibly gory, cheerfully unpleasant and manages to tell a story that’s complete even as it hints at something much bigger. If you want a satisfying horror experience, and you have the stomach for it, then this is absolutely for you. Just, trust us, do NOT go into the basement.
Review by Alasdair Stuart
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