Arctic Void (2022) Review

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Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale,
A tale of a fateful trip
That started from this Arctic port
Aboard this tiny ship.

And within the first few minutes, Arctic Void has us on a small Norwegian tourist vessel along with, among others, Ray (Michael Weaver, Ouija: Origin of Evil, Ravage) and Alan (Tim Griffin, The Gift, The Collection) who are shooting an episode of their travel show. They’re joined by Sean (Justin Huen, Angel of Death, The People I’ve Slept With) a last minute replacement for their usual cameraman who, for reasons unknown, was denied a visa.

Captain Jim (Rune Temte, Heavy Trip, Captain Marvel) fires up the engines and heads out to show everyone the wonders of nature. But they’re not long out of port before they begin noticing something strange is happening to the local wildlife. A bird that seems to have had its eyes removed, a mother walrus attacking it’s calf, etc. But the real strangeness occurs later, when everyone except Ray, Sean and Alan disappear into thin air.

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Director Darren Mann (This Cold Life) co-wrote Arctic Void’s script with Michael Weaver and William Paul Jones. And it’s obvious it was written with the film’s miniscule budget in mind, apart from the CGI animals there are no effects or action set pieces. Instead it relies on dialogue to help establish the characters and drop a few hints about the situation.

This approach, and the Twilight Zone type of feeling it creates only increases in the second act as the trio spot a town in the distance and use the ship’s raft to go looking for help. Needless to say it is also deserted. This was shot at Pyramiden, a mining outpost built by the Swedes and sold to the Soviets before being abandoned in 1998. The area’s permanent deep freeze has preserved most of the buildings in the state they were when it was abandoned. A few others have been restored as tourist attractions.

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Not only is this the perfect setting for a film like Arctic Void, nothing raises the paranoia quotient of a film’s plot like a mysterious relic from the Cold War. And the film uses it to build a good deal of suspense through the second act as the characters try to figure out what has happened and cope with a situation that would drive many people over the edge.

And, to a certain degree that is what seems to be happening to Alan. But it’s not just his mental state that’s crumbling. His body is showing signs of the same kinds of trauma that the animals are. Is that somehow related to the issues that plagued him before he found God and became a husband and father?

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Unfortunately it’s when it gets to the point where we need those answers that Arctic Void starts to crumble as well. There are some hints scattered through the first hour if you’re paying attention. But even if you miss them it’s not too hard to connect a few of the dots and get a general idea of what happened. I’m not sure if the weak final act was the result of poor writing or the lack of money to film something better but it’s a big disappointment after what comes before it. Instead of ending with a punch in the gut Arctic Void just limps along to a weak non ending.

If Arctic Void had taken not just its setting from the Cold War but some plot tips from some of that era’s more paranoid thrillers it would have been a lot better off. Instead it’s a frustrating watch that crashes just short of the finish line. The cast and crew show a lot of promise, hopefully they’ll get a better chance to show it off.

Arctic Void id available on Digital platforms from Level 33 Entertainment. You can check their website or Facebook page for more details.

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Our Score

10 thoughts on “Arctic Void (2022) Review”

  1. Watched this one too after checking out with Patasola. Your review says it all, although I may have ended up appreciating it slightly more than you did. But the ending, while I can perfectly live with ambiguity, certainly feels tacked on. Like they suddenly ran out of time, ideas and money all at the same time. I can also live with make-do special effects., but I’m not sure how the notion got lost that solid writing is a good movie’s sine qua non. Especially indie filmmakers who write their own movies and who’re not positioned to jj-abrams a bad script away should be alert to this.

    The movie takes place and was shot on location in the archipelago of Svalbard, formerly named Spitsbergen, a Norwegian territory (visa-free, also for American citizens) north of the polar circle, purportedly discovered by my fellow-countryman Willem Barentsz (the one the sea near Novaya Zemlya is named after) way back when. Had a job offer from there (with customs in Longyearbyen) couple years ago but it I ultimately decided it was too impactful for my family.

    1. It wasn’t just the ambiguity at the end, although that didn’t help. There was just something missing, even in the scenes between Alan and Ray in the last few minutes, they should have carried a lot more emotion than they did.

      It looks beautiful up there but even more remote than where I am out on the Canadian prairie`, I can’t imagine living there.

    2. Watched this last night. A good premise, got the whole “used sound/vibrations to experiment on ppl” kind of like LRAD, H.A.A.R.P. (Weather modification” Cia experimenting on ppl etc but are we to believe that sonic frequency can make only some ppl disappear while leaving others? And that the covert military guy slipped in to be camera guy revealed too much and therefore was killed? Or killed because the experiment did what it did? And what of the lone survivor and the phone call? Toomany questionsat the end but shows that when we deal with real life forces we don’t understand and strange awful things happen, we really don’t know what to do and are totally unprepared for the consequences of our actions. If you have an hour and a half to kill, check it out, won’t kill ya…….

  2. The beginning sounds similar to Sea Fever from 2020 and i like the idea of transitioning from a boat to an old town which gives the movie more room to explore its ideas. I’ll check this out.

    1. I’m sympathetic towards the effort Arctic Void is trying to make, but for me Sea Fever is the far superior movie.

  3. Mitchell Bronston

    Thanks for correcting the ‘Swedish’ goof mentioned in the review. Yes, this is Norway. The young German girls mentioned they were students at the University of Tromso. I know a math prof there, and the language on the ship was Norwegian. Also, yes this a ‘J.J. Abrams’ non-ending type film, thoroughly compelling and then disappointingly confusing. No quarrel with dialogue driven scenes, well done by the actors. But this needed a stronger closure than a ‘Lost’ type finale without clarification.

    1. I originally thought it was Swedish when I read about the outpost’s origins. Then I thought I fixed it when I saw the filming locations listed on IMDB and read a little more about it.

    1. I’d never heard of Fortitude before your comment but I’m not much for shows. It looks like it might be worth a watch though.

  4. People these days are spoiled brats. They have to have multi-million dollar movies with a renowned cast and the best CGI money can buy else they say the movie sucked.
    This movie was very good, the acting was well done, and the story was decent. No, it is not a triple-A movie but is much better than a B movie. Definitely worth the watch if you like Sci-fi/Suspense.
    If you consider this movie was made by only 15 people during the midst of the Covid pandemic it deserves much more credit than these other fools give it.

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