Jeremy Gillespie and Steve Kostanski’s The Void is a low budget B horror film that stars Aaron Poole as Daniel Carter, a local police officer. Carter is on duty one dark night when, right in front of his police cruiser, a disheveled man comes stumbling out of the woods. Bloodied, disheveled and mumbling incoherently, Carter assumes the stranger is on drugs and takes him to the closest hospital for treatment. This particular hospital is on the verge of closing, hence it only has a skeleton crew for the night shift. Not long after, mysterious hooded figures appear outside of the hospital. Dozens and dozens of them wielding knives and hoods with a triangle on the front. Not much longer after that horrific mutations start to befall the people in the hospital.
Up to this point, I was immensely interested in The Void. It seemed to have its ducks all lined up in a row; isolated, little weapons or ammo and no idea what any of this means. The Void establishes a great mood and tone early on in the film. It manages to maintain it through to the last act and then it hits a brick wall. Gillespie and Kostanksi have seen their fair share of horror flicks and there is nothing wrong with that. I counted no less than about four or five homages or slight hat-tips to other directors and their films. Most notable is John Carpenter. You could say The Void is part Halloween 2, part John Carpenter’s The Thing with a dash of Assault on Precinct 13 (actually these three are all John Carpenter films in one form or fashion) and a heaping helping of Clive Barker’s Hellraiser, especially towards the end of the film and a pinch of Event Horizon.
I did not even mind the cheesy acting and ultra low budget. It is all put to good use, but the problem with The Void is that once it establishes the characters and the plot, the story slips into neutral and goes nowhere. The ending is a bit odd and really by film’s end, the characters are pretty much where they started. There is one maddening scene in which the police officer and two others run to his cruiser to get the shotgun, more ammo and supplies. To my knowledge the car still is operational. If they can run out there and have enough time to grab supplies why not take the time to make a break for it. Why not shove everyone in the police cruiser and just get out of there? Sure it would be cramped but better cramping with a charley horse than getting mutilated by a nut with a knife. Now, if little old me can point this out, how did it get by the filmmakers?
Gillespie and Kostanski who have been primarily art directors through most of their careers, do a great job of giving The Void a gritty and unpolished look so when the carnage begins it gives the film some bite. But when The Void has a group of people go off into the hospital looking for one of the staff that has gone missing, the film lost me. The story progresses no further and basically stops. There is the added subplots of one of the doctors who has lost his daughter and another staffer who lost her daughter, as well. None of it is really explained in much detail and I did pick up that both losses of children was somehow connected, but the story does not connect the dots. We are expected to just “go with it”, I guess. The acting, as I said is a bit cheesy with only veteran actor Kenneth Walsh as the only recognizable face, for me. No one embarrasses themselves and they fulfill the requirements for their roles, but overall, the acting is a bit on the dull side. I did dig the score which has been credited to four different entities Blitz//Berlin, Joseph Murray, Menalon Music and Lodewijk Vos. It definitely has a John Carpenter and Alan Howarth vibe to it and the score works.
The Void has some great elements, no doubt. I appreciated the abundant use of practical special effects and the fact that very little CGI that was used. The filmmakers know how a horror film is supposed to look and it did hold my interest for about half of the run time. But, in their effort to pay respect to John Carpenter and Clive Barker, Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski have made a film that looks and sounds good, but story wise it collapses and that is something that John Carpenter rarely ever did. The Void is a mixed bag.
The Void – **3/4 out of 5
The Void – Rated R for language, graphic violence, gore and scenes of terror
The Void – Run Time is 90 minutes
The Void is playing in select cities, On Demand and subscription services. Check your local listings for times, locations and availability.