Review: The Void (2016)

Written and Directed by Jeremy Gillespie & Steven Konstanski

UK Release Date: 31st March 2017

Feature Running Time: 90 minutes

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Given to me as a gift while volunteering for the first time at this year’s FrightFest, The Void is a film that I watched no trailers or clips for (something I have a terrible habit of doing with most films) and knew little to nothing of what happens plot wise. All I had to go on with this is hearing just how good it was via word of mouth, and you know what? Sometimes that’s the best way to go with films and it most definitely applies to this one.

While on a late night car patrol, police officer Daniel Carter (Aaron Poole) stumbles across an injured young man on the side of the highway who is in urgent need of medical assistance. Panicking, Carter transports him to the nearest hospital he knows but unluckily for him, its low on medical resources due to having to relocate in the after event of a fire. As soon as they arrive, Carter knows there’s something not right with the hospital, with patients and personnel staff transforming into something grotesque and not of this world…

Having made its premiere at last year’s London Film Festival (which I missed), this film is shot on a low budget with a relatively unknown cast to me and directed by two film-makers instead of the traditional one, both of whom previously worked in the art and make-up departments for such films like Suicide Squad, Crimson Peak and Pacific Rim.  Here, they both work together using what they know in relation to practical special effects by delivering another 80s throwback horror. Drawing plenty of influences that horror fans will get straight away from the body horror work of Carpenter and Cronenberg, this is a labyrinthine nightmare confined within a single location setting where a group of local townspeople must put their problems and differences aside if they ever hope to work together to survive throughout the night and uncover just what the hell is happening before it’s too late. The inspired films that The Void takes its love from in particular are Assault on Precinct 13, The Thing, Shivers, Invasion of The Body Snatchers and just about every other Sci-Fi body horror movie you can ever think of. I like how this movie goes into all sorts of directions, retaining so much mystery for the viewer to keep guessing right up until it’s anti-climatic ending (which I thought was brilliant by the way). You know there are sinister plans at work here as these survivors, led by Carter, go deeper into the subterranean depths of the hospital; you just don’t know what they are and what will happen as a result.

I really liked one of the quotes that was made by a critic upon describing the film by saying ‘it’s like Stranger Things got drunk and made out with Event Horizon’, I thought that was a pretty accurate description of what you get with this film, if the third act and final conclusion of the story is anything to go by. I got the underlying sense that there was also a lot of love taken from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein as well, as ultimately the main premise of the story-line concerns itself with the loss of family and bereavement. As I mentioned earlier, this is the best example of a film to go into blind and not seeing any trailers or clips beforehand really worked with my first viewing of The Void, it’s a film that retains a lot of mystery throughout, an aspect that I really loved about this as I had no idea where the story was going or where it would take me but it’s the kind of surreal, crazy and really fucked up body horror movie that I really dug and completely surrendered to when allowing to let it take me on this journey into the unknown.

The best horror films are the ones where you’re itching for it to give you answers to burning questions that form in your mind as the plot unravels. In the case of this film, it was trying to find out why patients and staff alike were turning into great big ass ugly monsters that don’t look all that different to the giant alien bugs visualised in Paul Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers. Or just who the hell those knife wielding maniacs were in white hoods as they surround the hospital, preventing our protagonist survivors from ever escaping.

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As the pacing of the story quickly moves along, we get to find out more and more about these characters trapped in the hospital and what their main motives are. Not all of them are what they seem and it was fun working out how they all came together to be in this blood and gore drenched Lovecraftian nightmare in the first place. A couple of the characters were sadly underdeveloped, could be due to its short running time of only 90 minutes and in all honesty, I would have loved for this to be an extra half an hour longer. I really had fun with this film and just did not want it to end. Filled with some really wacky and insane ideas, this will please any fans of nostalgic gruesome horrors of the 70s and 80s.

★★★★ 1/2

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