Produced by Casey Walker, Jonathan Bronfman
Written and Directed by
Steven Kostanski, Jeremy Gillespie
Starring Aaron Poole, Kathleen Munroe,
Ellen Wong, Kenneth Welsh, Evan Stern
The Void is a horror film that wears its influences on its sleeve. Its premise is an amalgam of two John Carpenter classics, Assault on Precinct 13 and The Thing.
It also owes a great deal to H.P. Lovecraft, Lucio Fulci and 70s cult classic Race With The Devil.
Some fans love this kind of nostalgic mash-up, others loathe it. I straddle the fence, taking these things on a case-by-case basis. And I greatly enjoyed The Void (caveats ahead).
While there are occasional moments wherein I felt the homage became lazy and veered into rip-off territory, I found the film to be its own entity.
Original it ain’t, but it doesn’t merely cash in on fanboy nostalgia as many other recent horror films have done.
The Void starts off with a bang and doesn’t let up for a full hour (more on that later). A small-town cop, about to sign off for the night, happens upon a wounded, dazed young man stumbling out of the woods.
He’s forced to take the guy to the nearest hospital, one that is nearing closure after a bad fire, with only a skeleton crew on staff.
Soon enough, the proverbial shit hits the fan, as the cop, the small staff and an older man and his pregnant granddaughter are under siege by a mysterious group in bizarre robes. Oh, and peeps start turning into freakish monsters…
The Void was written and directed by Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski, two members of the filmmaking collective Astron-6, who’ve specialized in genre homages, such as Father’s Day and Manborg.
Those earlier efforts had tongue firmly in cheek; here, they play this material straight, aiming for terror, dread and suspense, and for a good while, succeeding incredibly well.
The lead, Aaron Poole, is engaging, if a bit of an asshole on paper. That said, the more we spend time with him, the more likable he becomes. And, refreshingly for an indie horror film of late, his comic relief moments are genuinely funny.
The creature and gore effects are mostly superb and overwhelmingly practical, which is a treat. The filmmakers take great care to actually make the film scary, suspenseful and even exciting.
Alas, they don’t quite sustain the excitement to the end credits. The film loses its footing a bit in the final half hour, and the pacing lags. It never grinds to a halt or becomes dull by any means, but there is a noticeable dip in quality.
Basically, the reveal isn’t nearly as exciting as the build-up. Still, The Void is so good for such a great while that, while disappointing, the home stretch doesn’t detract from the good will the film has engendered up to that point as much as one might guess.
With a killer score to boot, The Void is real treat for horror nuts. Unless you despise nostalgic homages outright, if you dig monster movies, you’re apt to find a lot to like here.