The Void (2016, dir. Jeremy Gillespie, Steven Kostanski)
Deputy Daniel Carter is enjoying a quiet night in his squad car on the side of the road when it’s interrupted by a crazed man stumbling out of the woods. Carter quickly delivers the man to the hospital which is being staffed by his estranged wife, two other nurses, and Dr. Powell, a beloved town physician. Things get weird when one nurse seemed to be possessed by an evil presence, and strange hooded figures appear en masse outside the hospital. Everything’s coming up Lovecraft in this homage to everything from cosmic horror to Lucio Fulci.
If you are a fan of pulpy cosmic horror, then The Void has been made for you. It hits every trope you can think of Crazed Cultists? Yup. Portal to the other realm? Got it. Body horror/gore? It’s all here. There’s even some nods to John Carpenter’s The Thing but also Assault on Precinct 13 and even the underrated Prince of Darkness. In fact, The Void as a whole is a massive homage to low-budget 1980s horror films.
The practical effects are pretty top notch. Almost no CG is used, and the craftsmanship of puppets and makeup effects is very impressive. The gore is very much that Kayro syrup style lost to the popularity and expediency of computer effects. Physical gore in a horror film of this genre is so much more effective in making the audience feel the revulsion.
While The Void is an homage, it is still an original story on its own. It plays some clever tricks on our perceptions by starting with a scene where we are intentionally not told all the facts. The story is very simplistic with a few twists along the way, but it keeps you entertained as you go. Moments seem unimportant at first, and then later they end up being critical to the plot.
Where the film began to lose in was in some of the less than stellar cinematography. It starts out great, but somewhere in the middle of the movie it becomes very sloppy and hard to follow in some of the action sequences. The story is also such a great build up only to fizzle when we learn the villain’s master plan. For all the dread that was developed it left me with just an “oh, that’s it?” The Void ends up being one of those films that are a fantastic showcase for the physical effects crew but falls prey to a weak story.