Directed by: Jeremy Gillespie & Steven Kostanski
Starring: Aaron Poole, Kathleen Munroe, Ellen Wong, Kenneth Welsh
During the opening of The Void there’s a credit for “creature effects”. This is a brief insight into the deranged, audacious world you are about to set foot in. Set in a backwater hospital running on a skeletal crew, policeman Daniel Carter (Aaron Poole) turns up with a meth addict in his backseat. After the assailant is handcuffed to a bed, sedated, Carter gets ready to call it a night but out of the darkness a group of cloaked white figures with mysterious black triangles emblazoned on their hoods. With no escape, things go from bad to horrific when they discover something is lurking in the hospital corridors.
It only takes one gruesome moment for The Void to rapidly find its fifth gear and from then on it never lets up. It’s a twisted nightmare playing out like the ugly lovechild of H.P. Lovecraft, Hellraiser and John Carpenter, evoking 80’s horror at every turn. It borrows handsomely from the genre it belongs to, while never feeling like a facsimile of its predecessor. Instead, feeling like a love letter to the genre. Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski (members of the Astron-6 collective) draw a lot from their VHS collections, instilling The Void with an unavoidable sense of nostalgia while managing to cram in a refreshing amount of originality. Sadly, there is the odd horror cliché scattered around, flickering lights and a handful of jump scares, yet these are so few and far between it’s forgivable.The practical creature effects are gruesome, grotesque works of art that resembles the efforts of Rick Baker and Clive Barker and proves to be the film’s biggest asset. When the film’s big bad rears his (really) ugly head, he is not as ambitiously crafted as the other terrifyingly constructed bads that harass the cast but still manages to pull off the film’s scarier scenes. It’s a not-so-gentle reminder of the power of practical effects, an element severely lacking in modern horror cinema.
For all its genuine scares, The Void’s saving grace is its examination of loss. Facing off with a disgusting creature is scary, yet perhaps the film’s message is nothing is scarier than losing a child. It’s a message that slowly reveals itself as the film unfolds, depicting the length people will go for their children. It’s an element that blends seamlessly into the narrative, as well as paralleling the film’s impressive visuals.
With its blood-soaked axe, The Void swings for the fences and while it doesn’t accomplish everything it sets out to, it proves to be an ambitiously gruesome, creatively grim horror that balances scares and subtext with ease, proving Gillespie and Kostanki are ones to watch.