The Void Written & Directed by Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski
Cast: Aaron Poole, Kathleen Munroe, Ellen Wong, Kenneth Walsh, Evan Stern, Daniel Fathers, and Grace Munro
Distributor: Screen Media Films
Runtime: 90 min
Release date: April 7th, 2017
Back in 2007, a group of young aspiring Canadian filmmakers started a production company called Astron-6. The group became known for their 80s-style low budget horror comedies such as Manborg, and Father’s Day (both 2011). Two of the Astron-6 filmmakers are Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski and their latest film, The Void, opens this Friday in theaters and on VOD. Written and directed by the pair, the film pays homage to 80s gore-fests, specifically the films of horror master John Carpenter. While not always set on what type of horror film it is, The Void certainly will not bore you, and barely gives you a second to come up for air. It is balls to the wall gore and scares for all 90-minutes, and will certainly leave fans of 80s horror very happy.
The Void opens in a house in the middle of the secluded woods. A young couple tries to flee but are stalked by two men with guns. The man runs off, but the woman is shot and killed in brutal fashion. Meanwhile, sleepy cop Danny Carter (Aaron Poole) is hanging in his cruiser waiting for the shift to end, when the guy crawls out of the woods covered in blood. The only hospital nearby is Marsh County which, due to a fire, is in the process of closing, and staffed with a skeleton crew and few patients, one a very pregnant Maggie (Grace Munro). We learn through conversation that Danny has a sad past with head nurse Allison (Kathleen Munroe) involving losing a child, and Dr. Richard Powell (Kenneth Welsh) is empathetic to them. The dialogue feels genuine rather than expository, as everyone knows everyone else in these small towns.
It does NOT take long for the shit to hit the fan in Marsh County. First, Officer Carter has to shoot a nurse who mutilated herself and killed a patient. He goes to wash up but has visions of a barren landscape ,while something bubbles and festers below the surface. Things go from bad to worse in a hurry. He’s attacked in the parking lot by what appears to be a cult of white robed knife wielding maniacs, and tentacles are reaching out of the dead nurses mouth. It all feels very Lovecraftian and the fact that everything takes place in the singular location of the hospital, instantly creates a feeling of dread and claustrophobia, both for the characters and the viewers.
Soon, the two gun-toting men from the beginning scene show up looking for the runaway guy. There’s a tense standoff, which is interrupted by a monstrosity that feels like a blend of Stuart Gordon’s From Beyond (1986) and The Thing (1982). Soon, the group is left trying to survive, digging deeper and deeper into the bowels of the hospital, until you’re not sure where the sublevels end and Hell begins.
The Void is a visceral horror experience that proves you can make a great horror film the old fashioned way. There is no CGI (at least nothing noticeable), and the creature effects are practical and gloriously gross with flailing tentacles, pulsating gelatinous blobs, bloody zombie-like beings, you name it. Add to that a slow, but eerie score, and costumes that are so simple, yet so creepy. The black triangle on white cult robes make for a fantastic contrast, and were the first things I noticed in the trailer that made me say, “Whoa!”
The Void is not shy on paying homage to the classics, and if there is one issue I had with the film, it was that the filmmakers couldn’t seem to contain themselves, and ended up losing focus a bit in the final act. I wrote down a list of films that The Void reminded me of or drew inspiration from. I was immediately reminded of Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13 (1976), which also featured a public service facility (police station rather than hospital) awaiting closure, becoming the place where the heroes make their stand. Then we move through the Carpenter catalog from The Thing to Prince of Darkness (1987) to Carpenter’s own Lovecraftian nightmare, In the Mouth of Madness (1995). As a lifelong Carpenter fan who counts Halloween as his favorite horror movie ever made, I was shockingly okay with all this, because while paying homage to these classics, The Void creates something wholly original up to it’s final jaw-dropping scene. The screenplay by Gillespie and Kostanski manages to permeate some real emotion through all the blood and gore. There is a sad and moving story of loss and grief amidst the carnage.
In the revitalized world of modern horror, The Void was a revelation. Forget the jump scares and music cues you’re used to. This is down, dirty, and in your face horror fresh out of the glory days of Video Nasties and video store horror aisles. If you grew up a horror fan in the 80s, this was made for you! The Void has found success on the festival circuit including Fantastic Fest, the London Film Festival, Toronto After Dark, and more.
The Void comes out in theaters and on VOD this Friday, April 7th.
When police officer Carter (Aaron Poole) discovers a blood-soaked man limping down a deserted road, he rushes him to a local hospital with a barebones, night shift staff. As cloaked, cult-like figures surround the building, the patients and staff inside start to turn ravenously insane. Trying to protect the survivors, Carter leads them into the depths of the hospital where they discover a gateway to immense evil.