Review: The Void (2016)

Crimson Quill’s Appraisal #736

Number of Views: One
Release Date: September 22, 2016
Sub-Genre: Survival Horror
Country of Origin: Canada
Running Time: 90 minutes
Directors: Jeremy Gillespie, Steven Kostanski
Producers: Jonathan Bronfman, Casey Walker
Screenplay: Jeremy Gillespie, Steven Kostanski
Special Effects: Patrick Baxter, Nicola Bendrey, Jeff Derushie, Zane Knisely, Michael J. Walsh
Visual Effects: Geoff D.E. Scott, Casey Walker
Cinematography: Samy Inayeh
Score: Blitz//Berlin, Joseph Murray, Menalon Music, Lodewijk Vos
Editing: Cam McLauchlin
Studios: Cave Painting Pictures, JoBro Productions & Film Finance
Distributor: D Films
Stars: Aaron Poole, Kenneth Welsh, Daniel Fathers, Kathleen Munroe, Ellen Wong, Mik Byskov, Grace Munro, Evan Stern, James Millington, Art Hindle, Stephanie Belding, Matt Kennedy

Suggested Audio Jukebox

[1] Noir Deco “A Cruise With Crockett”

[2] Glenn Miller “Moonlight Serenade”

[3] Megadeth “Evil That’s Within”

It’s no coincidence that many of my favorite horror movies were made in the eighties. The fifties were too wacky, sixties too polite, and seventies too grungy, whereas the eighties were almost too much fun. The likes of David Cronenberg, John Carpenter and Stuart Gordon began letting their freaks off the leash and, with prosthetics taking tremendous leaps forward and the emphasis increasingly on grossing out audiences, dull moments were few and far between. Gordon in particular (and his partner-in-slime Brian Yuzna) got right up to his cuticles in neon sludge and the twisted creations of SFX maestro Screaming Mad George paraded our screens with no end of contorted majesty.

Now we all love a good throwback and, like any other fashion, cinema tends to travel in ever-looping circles. Applying the tried-and-trusted thirty year rule, it’s only natural that we are going to witness a number of eighties homages, just as the fifties received a fresh coat of gloss during the Reagan-era. The reason for this is elementary – many filmmakers were teenagers when the cycle last perpetuated itself and, by the time we reach middle age, creative minds have ordinarily sussed out that we’re not cut out for 9-5. Should we be fortunate enough to be granted the opportunity of carving our own little slices of history, then the first thought in our minds is to honor those who made our own adolescence so memorable.

It comes as no surprise to learn that up-and-coming directorial double team, Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski, were both coming of age during’s horror’s last true flush period as their flavorsome freak show, The Void, is as affectionate a love letter to the epoch as you’re likely to see all year. We’re talking raucous rednecks, shotgun-toting sheriffs, shady cults, slimy tendrils, and botched medical experiments – precisely what we’d expect from the guys both involved with 2011 exploitation number, Father’s Day, another unashamedly eighties throwback. The pair evidently hold the decade in great esteem and their sophomore film makes it clear in abundance that they’ve not been slacking on the homework.

Canadians Gillespie and Kostanski had sleeves full of tricks when they began crafting the void and ran a successful Indiegogo campaign to assist with fashioning the most memorable monsters feasible. This labor of love paid off in style as The Void premiered to a packed Fantastic Fest crowd on September 22, 2016, earning just the kind of rapturous response they would have hoped for.

Of course, you’ve still got the small manner of marketing this beast and, while word travels fast nowadays thanks to good old fibre-optic broadband, it can still be a painfully laborious process getting your shit recognized. Having recently taken a brisk and eventful ramble to the dark side of their ominous glowing triangle and returned relatively unscathed, I’m only too happy to grab my bugle on their behalf. Fuck it, I’ll even throw in synchronized hand jobs if they thrash out a sequel.

Before we proceed any further, has anyone else noticed the uncanny resemblance between our leading man Aaron Poole and Aaron Paul from Breaking Bad? Sorry to go off-topic but it really is rather otherworldly. Anyhoots, small town deputy Daniel Carter (that’s Poole not Paul) is having something of a wretched evening by all accounts and it’s about to get a whole lot more sucky. After happening across an asphalt-crawling drug fiend while out on sole patrol, he does what any decent human being with a set of greased wheels would and transports the wounded soldier directly to the nearest emergency room. What a super trooper.

I hate to be a party pooper Daniel son but the wife’s on-call tonight and I’d say it’s inevitable you two estranged love birds will run into one another at some point. Thankfully, Alison (Kathleen Munroe) won’t have time to remind you what a shit you are as the hospital’s crew are operating pretty skeletal tonight. Kindly Dr. Richard Powell (Kenneth Welsh) and that awfully nice Nurse Kim (Ellen Wong) will gladly lend a hand but their training may not have adequately prepared them for this particular intake.

The waiting room is growing ever more chaotic, what with the arrival of father and son Vincent (Daniel Fathers) and Simon (Mik Byskov), who appear to know something nobody else does about our injured party and aren’t in the mood for dropping in a bouquet and a get well soon card. However, if you think they’re unruly then cop a load of this shady mob of car-park stragglers.

With Satan’s Al-Qaeda mincing about in the shadows and staff no longer brave enough to check our rapidly declining patient’s vital signs, it looks like it’s going to be a long night in this ER although considerably shorter for anyone caught in the crossfire when all merry hell eventually breaks loose.

Fuses are short, allegiances strained, and trigger fingers itchy – not the ideal trio of ingredients when faced with a threat that seems able to launch from any conceivable angle and darkened doorway. Don’t even get me started on the moody-looking basement as, by this point, I’m reasonably certain the void doesn’t in fact lead directly to an idyllic holiday resort in the Seychelles, unless abbreviated.

To reveal any more would likely get me lynched by the hoodies but, needless to say, your expectations for demonic debauchery are quite likely to be exceeded here. You see, The Void is one big melting pot of gooey retro-savvy goodness. From William Girdler’s The Manitou, to John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13, The Thing and Prince of Darkness, Lucio Fulci’s The Beyond, Stuart Gordon’s From Beyond and a peppering of Paul W. S. Anderson’s Event Horizon; the influences are there for all to see and our tag-team terrorizers are never once bidding to disguise that.

When a filmmaker is having so much cotton-picking fun, said hijinks are bound to become the audience’s too and, bearing in mind there are two of them, Gillespie and Kostanski’s double-barreled glee offers excitement to the power of deux, not to mention dual-revulsion.

Samy Inayeh’s suitably stifling photography positively bleeds atmosphere, often in that very color and papers over any cracks in the relatively paper-thin screenplay. Observing our cloaked disciples as they congregate before a forest green backdrop, illuminated by a police car’s blue-and-red siren delivers us straight back to horror’s last change of guard and, while long waits are par for the course in hospitals, The Void barely even checks in at front desk before unleashing its most unnamable writhing nasties.

As a self-confessed whore for all things eighties, movies like this warm my innermost cockles. Their rabbit hole may not be quite as deep as is hinted, but Gillespie and Kostanski ensure the feeling of wonderment is never far away like the pair of Mad Hatters they quite clearly are. What enthuses me most is that The Void merely scratches the surface layer of their boundless imaginations and, with the buzz for this delightful midnite movie now gathering the pace, who knows what they’ll conjure up next. I know one thing – I’ll be right there front of line in the waiting room next time they scrub.

Crimson Quill’s Judgement: 8/10

Grue Factor: 4/5

For the Grue-Guzzlers: Prepare yourself fellow feasters as The Void lays on quite the buffet. The synthetic monstrosities are downright Lovecraftian, and the gore both profuse and bone-splintering; with great lengths gone to in order to let the audience in on every last messy demise. Thanks to that winning Indiegogo campaign, Astron-6’s conceptual delights are never far from front and centre and all this without a solitary whiff of CGI. Now that’s what I call homage.

Read From Beyond Appraisal
Read The Thing (1982) Appraisal
Read The Nest Appraisal
Read Event Horizon Appraisal

Richard Charles Stevens

Keeper of The Crimson Quill

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