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The Void (2016) Review

The Void was co-directed and co-written by Jeremy Gillespie (Father’s Day, Manborg) and Steven Kostanski (Psycho Goreman, Leprechaun Returns) and stars Aaron Poole (The Empty Man, Tainted), Mik Byskov (the 100), Daniel Fathers (Pontypool, Project Ithaca), Kathleen Munroe (The Car: Road to Revenge, Knuckleball) Ellen Wong (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Silent Night) Evan Stern (Letterkenny), Grace Munro, and Kenneth Welsh (Campton Manor, Awakening the Zodiac). It’s about the occupants of a hospital attempting to survive the otherworldly entities and cultists that have surrounded and come into the building.

The Plot: The plot isn’t much more than an outline for the horror. Normally sacrificing story in a medium that requires it would end terribly, but with the Lovecraftian nature of the antagonists and swift pacing, it works. Officer Carter (Poole) picks up the wounded James (Stern) from the side of the road. They go to the closest hospital and meet with Doctor Powell (Welsh) and the rest of the occupants, including Allison (Munroe), the pregnant Maggie (Munro) and Kim (Wong) among others.

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There’s little time for questioning, however, as Vincent (Fathers) and Simon (Byskov) barge in, causing complications. Soon, hooded figures surround the hospital and some of the people inside go nuts, and Allison goes into labour. Carter, Vincent, and Simon seek out medicine, but the night becomes a fight for survival as Powell unleashes creatures into the building. That’s really it for the story, but thankfully the writers include tidbits of character and some clues to piece things together to satisfy the most basic story requirements.

The Characters: Since the runtime of The Void is so short (80-odd minutes excluding credits), only a few of the characters get more than a brief introduction, but there aren’t many survivors by the conclusion, and seeing how the less developed characters go out is brutal enough to inspire empathy anyway. Carter and Allison get the most between them. The two of them used to be married and Allison (a nurse at the hospital) had a miscarriage which split them.

With Maggie going into labour, the ex-couple are split once again on how to react, and there’s a good dynamic between them. Carter tries to do right by Maggie, which comes across as genuine. Vincent and Simon have some severe trust issues after prior events and get down to brutal business to understand the situation, making cooperation difficult. Powell lost his kid too and has resorted to something or other to get her back. It’s an inversion of Carter that works well, as do all the characters; in large part thanks to the solid actors doing solid work.

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The Horror: Gillespie and Kostanski must be huge fans of 80s horror. What’s impressive is their understanding of what worked and what didn’t and their election to use a myriad of factors and pace them out is what makes The Void work. Opening with the murder and burning of a body and the sight of hooded figures in the distance is a terrific way to set the tone, and room is given for the audience and the characters a chance to breathe.

Escalation of the scares adds to the tension, too, with characters starting to unravel and become less trusting in each other. Also, those creature effects (by Gillespie and Kostanski as well) are horrifyingly detailed and mix cosmic horror and more conventional creatures with aplomb. Some spatial logic gets ignored on purpose though, with halls, rooms, and entire floors disappearing that seems more like a convenient way to cut down on locations and loosen the story even more. Still, just the monsters and makeup are better than most bigger-budget affairs.

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The Technics: The most notable technical detail of The Void is clearly the effects and the makeup. They’re great overall, even though there are some occasions where they’re too well-lit or too much is shown, and the veneer begins to fade. Thankfully, those happenings are rare. Sometimes the writer/directors fall into the biggest pits that plagued the films that inspired their own too. Dialogue can run in circles at times, having the same characters make similar arguments a handful of times over, and a couple of the characters (mostly just Kim) are squarely unlikeable. For a no-budget cosmic horror movie with plenty of effects, The Void is a huge success that can occasionally feel a bit of slight in its direction, writing, and lighting.

For a throwback movie, The Void hits most of the right spots. The actors sell their roles, the effects and makeup are fantastic, and the hospital makes for an interesting setting. Some slipups are present, the story/antagonist’s powers needed more meat on the bones, and logic can get hazy, but most boxes are checked for an enjoyable creature feature.

The Void is available to stream via Screen Media Films.


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3 thoughts on “The Void (2016) Review”

  1. Remember seeing this one back when it came out, and had a good time with it. What stuck with me most of all through the years is the John Carpenter kind of vibe it exuded for me, but I also remember I looked it up but couldn’t find anything from Gillespie and Kostanski to back that up. Thanks for the review, it warrants a rewatch to see how it holds up.

    1. Glad you liked it, it’s from our new writer Lukas.

      I remember the comparisons to Carpenter when the film came out, it’s so noticeable I can’t believe he wasn’t an influence. I last watched it a couple of years ago and it held up well for me.

    2. From the behind the scenes stuff I watched I did get the impression that the directors were huge fans of Carpenter, or at least of his rendition of The Thing, but who isn’t? I’d say the Void holds up pretty well, and those effects are gonna age like wine. Glad you liked the review!

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