Studio: Screen Media Films
Director: Jeremy Gillespie, Steven Kostanski
Writer: Jeremy Gillespie, Steven Kostanski
Producer: Casey Walker, Jonathan Bronfman
Stars: Aaron Poole, Daniel Fathers, Kathleen Munroe, Ellen Wong, Mik Byskov, Art Hindle, Stephanie Belding, James Millington, Evan Stern, Grace Munro, Kenneth Welsh
A hospital’s skeleton staff confronts cosmic chaos when a deputy unknowingly leads an apocalyptic cult to their door.
When a frantic man crawls out of a house of horrors and into a remote road, Deputy Daniel Carter finds his formerly quiet night accelerating fast down a path toward cosmic chaos. Daniel would prefer to avoid Marsh County Memorial, partly because a recent fire has it operating on a skeleton crew, and partly because his estranged wife Alison works there. Nevertheless, limited options force Daniel to race the mystery man to medical aid as quickly as he can.
In silently stalking pursuit is a cult in white hoods and robes with black triangles over their faces. They surround the building, sealing its scant staff and few patients inside with the threat of what might happen if anyone steps into the night.
What Daniel, Alison, and the others discover is that the terrors lurking within the hospital’s walls may be far more frightening. A doorway is opening to another dimension. That portal has the power to transform corpses into creatures in open defiance of death itself. A hellish dreamscape now takes physical form as everyone is thrust into a confrontation with otherworldly evil whose secrets expose a centuries-old conspiracy.
For “The Void,” co-writers/co-directors Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski step outside the comedic confines of their Astron-6 filmmaking collective to take a direct route into undiluted eldritch eeriness. Evoking elements of “Halloween II,” “Assault on Precinct 13,” “Prince of Darkness,” “The Thing,” and “In the Mouth of Madness,” the film’s darkly demonic, understated intensity makes it the best John Carpenter movie not actually made by John Carpenter.
That’s a reductive way of encapsulating the film’s feel for the benefit of a pull quote without rightly representing the full scope of what “The Void” achieves. It’s actually less hyperbolic to say “The Void” features everything any horror film fan can ask for. Psychological dread. Body horror. Gruesome gore. Lovecraftian nightmares. A disturbing cult. “The Void” delivers a full-bodied fright film experience that is visceral as well as cerebral, and executes on both fronts with calculated precision that is devilishly entertaining.
Even though monster effects are practical and certain scenes nod obviously at everything from Clive Barker’s “Hellraiser” to Lucio Fulci’s “The Beyond,” I wouldn’t use the term ‘throwback’ or describe the movie as some sort of 80s tribute. “The Void” doesn’t hollowly echo its influences or shoot for a retro sheen. Gillespie and Kostanski simply take shades of siege action, creature feature, supernatural slasher, and satanic suspense, and shape them into a uniquely enthralling entity that is a beast of its own design.
You’ve seen each piece somewhere else before. But you haven’t seen them blended together this creatively or this cohesively, without the result being hodge podge homage.
Where the movie misses a step is in a midsection mired in more dingy dungeon exploration than can be kept compelling. “The Void” opens immediately on action and rarely relents from that point forward as everyone races from encounters with cultists and creatures to standoffs at gunpoint and unexpected reveals. So when Daniel and company find themselves creeping quietly through flashlight beams in dimly lit rooms, momentum follows suit and slows down.
Some quick cuts and dark shots also make monsters difficult to discern. I understand the “less is more” idea of allowing imagination to fill in blanks and not lingering long enough to see puppet strings. But with all of the fantastic physical work put into designing and realizing these tentacled monstrosities, it might be a boon to have a better look.
Certain story turns don’t come as surprises (you know at least one person isn’t outing his/her full identity upfront). Yet backstory developments concerning grief over dead children bond characters thematically while deepening drama underneath. There is a lot happening at every level in “The Void.” Everyone from Aaron Poole as the Everyman at its center to familiar Canadian faces Art Hindle and Kenneth Welsh around the edges grounds this far out fiction in an unsettling world where maddened minds meet a relatable reality.
“The Void” innovates using established ideas. It captivates by keeping you creeped out. It’s a movie you see in your mind’s eye when it’s over and then again on your TV when you willingly watch it once more. That’s how effective “The Void” is as a film whose frights make it a top choice for terror.
Review Score: 85