By: Heather Seebach
Canadian filmmaking collective Astron-6 is best known for their throwback horror-comedies like Manborg and Father's Day but two of its members - Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski - have deviated from that schlock trend with their cosmic horror, The Void. This much-anticipated movie received nearly $83,000 in crowdfunding just to enhance its creature effects - and it shows! While the script is lacking and it wears its influences a bit too obviously at times, the film succeeds in being a creepy, satisfying re-visit to 1980s horror tropes with some visual flare all its own.
Police offer Daniel Carter (Aaron Poole) comes across a wounded stranger in the road and takes him to the nearest hospital. Due to a recent fire, the hospital is in the process of relocating and has only a small staff of nurses and one doctor. After the mysterious new patient arrives, so too does an even more mysterious assembly of figures in white hooded cloaks surrounding the hospital. Still, the knife-wielding creeps outside are not even as bad as what emerges from inside the building. Carter and the others face danger from all sides as a sinister secret unfolds.
Without giving away too much, I will say that The Void is clearly inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft, dealing with themes of death, insanity, and cosmic entities. Visually, the film borrows most heavily from Carpenter and Fulci, with a touch of Hellraiser. The creature effects were no doubt inspired by Rob Bottin's stellar work on The Thing (1982) but one must give credit where credit is due: The Void's monster FX are outstanding and unarguably its strongest attribute. Sometimes the film is just too poorly lit, or quickly cut, to enjoy the creatures in their full glory but when you see them, I dare you not to be impressed. For practical FX fans, there is plenty to get excited about here. Films with this level of practical creature FX are far too rare these days. In fact, James Gunn's Slither is the only recent example I can think of.
On the other hand, some of the film's influences are a bit too blunt. One moment in particular is lifted directly from Fulci's The Beyond. It was no doubt meant as homage but it is just too on-the-nose. The movie is also hurt by a weak script that has lapses in logic and is downright confusing at times. Characters are poorly developed and unsympathetic. One is so annoying that I wanted to turn into an cosmic creature and kill her myself! The best contributor of the cast is without a doubt screen veteran Kenneth Welsh, who is fantastically creepy. His voice alone sends shivers down the spine.
It has been said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but there is a limit on how much a horror film should flatter its predecessors. The Void toes that line precariously. It may wear its influences proudly but at least it does not shamelessly ape its predecessors - well, except for that Fulci scene. In addition to the satisfying creature FX, the film brings to the table some truly stunning cinematography and unique, nightmarish moments. Gillespie and Kostanski are talented art directors, but if the script had been handled by a more experienced screenwriter (preferably one well-versed in Lovecraft), this movie could have been something really amazing. Still, it hits the spot for anyone craving a slimy, stylish creature movie.
out of 5