“There is a Hell. This is worse.”
THE VOID. It’s not a sequel. It’s not a remake or reboot. It’s an original horror flick by Jeremy Gillespie & Steven Kostanski, two-fifths of Canada’s Astron-6 ( FATHER’S DAY, MANBORG, THE EDITOR ) . It’s screened at multiple festivals around the world to glowing reviews. And you’re going to love it. Now you might be saying, “that’s a pretty bold claim you’re making. How do YOU know that I’ll like it?”
Well, kids, allow me to educate you. The official synopsis is as follows:
“When police officer Carter [Aaron Poole] discovers a bloodsoaked man limping down a deserted road, he rushes him to a local hospital with a bare-bones night shift staff. As cloaked, cult-like figures surround the building, the patients and staff inside start to turn ravenously insane. Trying to protect the survivors, Carter leads them into the depths of the hospital where they discover a gateway to immense evil.”
Not enough? Alright, then. Feast your eyes on this:
Have I got your attention now? I would bloody well hope so but I want things to be ironclad here, and video is not enough. So, in no particular order, here are some reasons THE VOID needs to be on your must-see list. Three, to be precise.
More than an homage: a lot of reviews and articles have called THE VOID an “80s throwback”, a pastiche of homages and shout-outs to that most influential of decades and at first glance, it’s an easy comparison to make. But instead of “nudge-nudge, see what we did there?” fan service or post-modern deconstruction of horror cinema tropes, THE VOID takes these influences, puts them in a contemporary setting and plays them straight. No muss, no fuss. Familiar at first glance – Kostanski and Gillespie proudly wear their influences on their sleeves, with traces of Barker, Carpenter and Fulci mingling in the film’s genetic structure – but there’s something fresh and inventive wriggling underneath the skin that elevates it beyond this “best 80s homage ever” labeling. Put simply, it’s a good tale told well and that applies to any decade, not just the 80s.
Practical effects: For years now, we have been bemoaning the genre’s tendency to go CGI when it comes to putting monsters on the screen and, more often than not, they’re right. With THE VOID, it’s a return to latex, bladders, blood pumps and all manner of fluids. The creature work is phenomenal & the gore visceral and unsettling because of that tangibility. It’s solid work, and it should be – Kostanski and Gillespie have years of practical experience under their belts – Kostanski in practical and digital SFX, Gillespie in graphic design and art direction. Working on films such as PACIFIC RIM, CRIMSON PEAK and the remakes of ROBOCOP and TOTAL RECALL, they know the intricacies involved in making it look good – and getting the most bang for their buck. And it shows in THE VOID.
Lovecraft done right: The term “Lovecraftian” gets thrown around a lot. More often than not, it’s used as a lazy shorthand for “gooey, with lots of tentacles”. In fact, Lovecraft’s brand of fiction was short on gore or shock value and dealt with more metaphysical concerns – notably, man’s insignificance compared to the vast, unknowable reaches of the beyond. And yes, while THE VOID does have its share of slimy and slithery appendages, it’s firmly rooted in Lovecraft’s ethos: “We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far.” Decisions are made that breach the barrier between our world and…well, somewhere else… that have dire consequences for this side of the veil. It also manages to convey one of Lovecraft’s harder tactics: less is more. We see just enough of the otherworldly horrors brought forth from the other side without a grand-full-frame reveal, which only ends up making things more unsettling. We’re also left with no exposition dump on just what exactly is waiting in The Void, building the mystery with nightmare flashes, making the viewer fill in the blanks with their own worst fears. And that is NOT easy to pull off in a visual medium, folks, but they find that sweet spot . Kostanski and Gillespie have made a film that’s worthy of the “Lovecraftian” label. And true to form, shit gets pretty bleak.
THE VOID is trippy, relentlessly entertaining and mean as hell. A “video nasty” with modern sensibilities and flair. More often than not, horror fans are very quick to point out what’s wrong with the genre. So here’s one that gets it right. Get out there and see it. Remember, you don’t get what you want if you don’t speak up and trust me, you want this.
THE VOID is now available on VOD, with a limited theatrical run – check the listing to see if its playing near you. Home video release dates are pending, so keep your eye on Facebook, Twitter , Instagram & the official website for updates.