Starring Ellen Wong, Kathleen Munroe, Kenneth Welsh, Aaron Poole
Directed by Jeremy Gillespie & Steven Kostanski
Screened at Mayhem 2016
Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski break away from the Astron-6 fold to concentrate on serious, relentless horror with The Void. Think H.P. Lovecraft meets John Carpenter with a dash of Stuart Gordon and Lucio Fulci, and you’re some way toward knowing what to expect from this duo’s slime-coated monster mash.
Small-town cop Daniel Carter (Poole) finds himself having the night from hell when an injured man crawls into the road near his police cruiser. Taking the man to the nearby hospital – which is running only on a skeleton crew due to its imminent closure – Carter is forced to interact with his estranged wife, Allison (Munroe), and a pair of jumped-up, gun toting locals who demand Carter hand over his new ward.
But this, as it turns out, is the least of this crew’s worries. Outside, a cult has amassed – white-robed with peculiar hoods depicting a black triangle, these knife-wielding cultists attack anyone who sets foot outside. Hoping to last until daylight, Carter and co. barricade themselves in the hospital… but the people there are changing… mutating into horrific, slimy creatures intent on devouring or infecting every human within the building.
There are, of course, larger plans afoot here – a Lovecraftian sort of dimension-hopping, world-ending evil taking place within the bowels of the hospital… and this is where The Void’s single greatest failing lies. Attempting to mould their antagonists’ motivations into a palpable sense of eternal, esoteric darkness, Gillespie and Kostanski only succeed in generating an unnecessary expulsion of word soup that does very little to bring things together and tie the visual intensity to the narrative. In the end, it’s still nightmarishly cool, but decidedly nonsensical and lacking in weight.
But let’s set that to the side for now – because while The Void may drop the ball when it comes to the core story, it smacks it straight out of the park with regards to generation of sheer terror. On the basis of individual scenes, The Void’s intensity levels are right off the charts – imagine Assault on Precinct 13, were the police station also home to Sutter Cane’s demented creations from In the Mouth of Madness.
It doesn’t take long for the film to set its hooks, and once the tentacles are coiling and the blood and slime flying everywhere things become progressively more dark, desperate and dangerous within the confines of this godforsaken hospital. Well rounded characters and an earnest, convincing cast provide the fuel for a genuinely scary, unforgiving experience. Gillespie and Kostanski rarely pull punches, putting their characters through as many mental trials as they do physical… and, oh boy, the physicality…
Putting fellow crowd-funded creature feature Harbinger Down to utter, utter shame, Kostanski’s practical creations for The Void are nightmares come to life. Flawlessly executed, the creature scenes by themselves are almost enough to cement The Void as an instant classic in the monster movie arena.
The Void is dark, nasty and truly frightening – but it’s a pity that, when it comes to the resolution, it can’t quite keep up the quality with which it begins; a sad fact that sees it finish with a bitter parting kiss that, however unreflective it may be of the superb horror experiences served up throughout, unfortunately sticks in the mind.