‘There is a Hell. This is worse.’
The Void is a 2016 Canadian science fiction horror film written and directed by Steven Kostanski and Jeremy Gillespie. Best known for their work as part of the Astron-6 collective (The Editor; Manborg, Father’s Day), they are also design and FX veterans of major Hollywood productions (Pacific Rim, Robocop, NBC’s Hannibal).
The movie stars Ellen Wong, Kathleen Munroe (Survival of the Dead), Aaron Poole (The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh), Kenneth Welsh (The Lizzie Borden Chronicles; Survival of the Dead; The Covenant), Art Hindle (Sicilian Vampire; Monster Brawl; The Brood), Daniel Fathers (Pontypool), Stephanie Belding, Amy Groening, Trish Rainone, Evan Stern, Mik Byskov, James Millington, Grace Munro, David Scott, Jason Detheridge.
In the middle of a routine patrol, police officer Daniel Carter happens upon a blood-soaked figure limping down a deserted stretch of road. He rushes the young man to a nearby rural hospital staffed by a skeleton crew, only to discover that patients and personnel are transforming into something inhuman.
As the horror intensifies, Carter leads the other survivors on a hellish voyage into the subterranean depths of the hospital in a desperate bid to end the nightmare before it’s too late…
Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski are perhaps best known as part of the Astron-6 collective, responsible for 1980s-themed genre satires like Manborg, Father’s Day and The Editor. So The Void comes as a real surprise – a retro-themed horror movie, yes, but one played with a straight face – and all the better for it.
Riffing on elements of H.P. Lovecraft, John Carpenter (including, unexpectedly, Assault on Precinct 13) and Lucio Fulci, the film opens with a police officer finding an injured man beside a desert road, and taking him to a local hospital that is barely staffed with a night shift crew. Things get weird as a group of cloaked, masked figures surround the hospital – but just as you think you are in for a cult-themed siege movie, things start to get increasingly weird inside the hospital, with shape-shifting, tentacle creatures, people who are not what they seem and a gateway to Hell being opened up, as the disparate band of characters including vigilantes, junkies and a pregnant woman battle for survival
All this is done with some panache – practical effects junkies will be thrilled with the throwback creatures that are effectively done, while lovers of bizarre cinema will love the constant plot turns. In fact, if we are to find fault with the film, then it is with the increasingly incoherent storyline.
While the film manages to keep going thanks to its sheer weirdness and relentless action, it must be noted that the plot is rather under-developed, with lurches into the strange and unexpected twists that make very little sense. If the directors had shown a little more concern about storytelling and a little less about recreating 1980s excess, then the film would have been genuinely great. As it is, The Void is heavily flawed, but still quite the rollercoaster ride, and for those looking for nothing more than gory surrealism, non-stop action and impressive visuals, then it will be a very satisfying experience.
David Flint, MOVIES and MANIA
Buy Blu-ray: Amazon.co.uk
“…it never feels like the filmmakers themselves are unaware of the finer aspects of the mythology they’ve built. The film commits, wholeheartedly, to that mythology. It builds a dense, convincing vision of hell on earth with style and ease.” Fangoria
” …thankfully the film’s pace zooms so fast that there’s not enough time to worry about connecting the dots because another person is already getting stabbed in the neck with a scalpel, pulling off pieces of their own face, or hallucinating Tree of Life–esque spacescapes. It’s a relentless film whose volume is permanently stuck at 11…” The Austin Chronicle
“Although it starts slow, it suddenly warms up and then pounds the pedal to the metal at all times. Threats and otherworldly things seem to surface with frequency, each time representing a new challenge. These sequences, however, build just slightly from one shot to the next, which prevents the repetitive booby trap that so many other action-oriented pictures fall into.” Addicted to Horror Movies
“You get your money’s worth with each gasp, eye-widening creature movement and tense reaction with The Void. Does this film fit every audience?, probably not. It does, however, fit more for gorehounds, practical FX and makeup disciples as well as fans of the early eras, where the visual aspect was the center of each world. Hats off to the sound and score work done for the film as well…” Icons of Fright
“Admittedly you can spot the genre references through and through from Carpenter’s aforementioned classics mentioned before to Hellraiser, with a splattering of The Beyond especially in the films final sequence as well. But as genre films go you cannot fault its ambition and drive and the directors have a love and an appreciation of the horror film.” UK Horror Scene
” …it pulls no punches as it marches toward its hellish, non-stop third act. However, it does take a little while to rev its engines and the characters … The Void may not be an instant classic like the movies it was obviously inspired by, but it scratches the same itch as Hellraiser and The Beyond…” /Film.com
“The Void works incredibly well for numerous reasons, but the special effects in the film are by far the project’s biggest asset, and Kostanski’s work in the special effects world demonstrates his keen ability to make the most out of very little (meaning: budget). Some of the creatures were absolutely astounding to watch…” Daily Dead
“The practical special effects really steal the show from the characters as the story evolves from a bad night into all hell literally breaking loose. The set pieces and gags are simply fantastic and it’s fun to see what happens next as the next funhouse door yawns open.” Screen Anarchy
“Though it evokes extreme filmmakers like Lucio Fulci (The Beyond), Stuart Gordon (From Beyond) and Clive Barker (Hellraiser), The Void offers slightly less perverse monster effects, holding back on the queasy, confrontationally sexualised charge of the video nasty era. It is, however, creepy, suspenseful and nerve-wracking – and marks Gillespie and Kostanski as genre auteurs in the making.” Screen Daily
“If you’re looking for a one-off splatter fest then you’ll probably enjoy The Void’s 90-minutes of casual mayhem because outside of its passion for practical effects, there isn’t much holding Gillespie and Kostanski’s ambitious feature together. I really wanted to love this movie and I’m a sucker for slimy practical effects, but this is one is mostly disappointing.” The Missing Reel
“Dialogue moves gracefully between humour and general “what the f*ckery” via more transcendental matters. And at times The Void is surprisingly very touching. At the heart of the story are parents who have lost their children, and after all the unrelenting horror there’s a message that although the abyss is terrifying, perhaps it’s a little less terrifying when you’re facing it with someone.” Methods Unsound
“It starts with a hospital under siege much like the police station in Assault on Precinct 13 and then it throws a bunch of unlikely characters together like The Fog (including genre legend Art Hindle of The Brood) and then it starts slapping you in the face with mind-bending surrealism like In the Mouth of Madness, concentrated cosmic horror like Prince of Darkness and flesh-twisty gore a’ la The Thing.” Kindertrauma
The Void was released by Screen Media Films in the US on April 7, 2017. In the UK, a Signature Entertainment Blu-ray and DVD was released on 24 April 2017.
Sault Ste Marie, Ontario, Canada