Main cast: Aaron Poole (Daniel Carter), Kenneth Welsh (Dr Richard Powell), Daniel Fathers (Vincent), Kathleen Munroe (Allison Fraser), Ellen Wong (Kim), Mik Byskov (Simon), Grace Munro (Maggie), Evan Stern (James), James Millington (Ben), Art Hindle (Mitchell), Stephanie Belding (Beverly), Matt Kennedy (Cliff Robertson)
Directors: Steven Kostanski and Jeremy Gillespie
One lovely night, a man barely escapes with his life, fleeing from a house as his female companion gets shot down and set on fire by Vincent and his son Simon. This man, James, is eventually found by Deputy Daniel Carter, who sends him to the nearest hospital. This hospital was recently damaged in a fire, and almost everything that survived the fire is being moved over to a new premise. Hence, there is only a skeleton staff tonight, keeping things afloat while waiting for the new hospital to be fully operational.
Dr Richard Powell and the head nurse Allison Fraser oversee the place that night, and Allison is Daniel’s ex. Those two separated after their child came into the world stillborn, and it’s a cordial, if somewhat uncomfortable, reunion for the them. However, affairs of the heart will have to wait, as a shocking and apparently inexplicable murder takes place shortly after James’s arrival. Worse, what seems like cult members begin surrounding the building, and then there are ghastly monsters – with tentacles, naturally – stalking the hospital. What is happening, and will the people in the hospital survive the night? Oh, and Vincent and Simon soon show up. Are they friends or foe? Does the answer even matter?
The Void is a charming crowdfunded movie that works beautifully in many ways, combining the claustrophobic tension and terror of being trapped in an enclosed space with nowhere to run, body horror, and Lovecraftian cosmic horror. There is a lovely 1980s horror movie vibe to the whole thing, and while the practical effects occasionally betray the limited budget of this movie, they are gory and ghastly enough to demonstrate that these effects trump fake, lazily done CGIs any time. There are no lazy jump scares too, which is always a plus in this day and age of putrid, formulaic, banged-out-for-dough genre crap.
Daniel Carter makes an appealing and sympathetic only sane man of the cast, and this brings me to my next point. Sadly, The Void doesn’t manage to escape a common pitfall of horror movies: characters that behave in grotesquely stupid ways just to create a crisis.
Oh, you are unarmed and you find yourself confronted by a ghastly monster? Well, the sensible thing to do is to attack the only man with a gun and hence is your best protection against that monster!
What, you need important supplies from the dark and spooky storeroom, and you have just witnessed a monster brutally kill a man before your eyes? Who cares, let’s just make your way to the storeroom, alone and unarmed!
Yikes, you are trapped in a hospital with monsters and evil cult members? It’s time to antagonize the other guy who can capably use a gun even when you have no good reason to!
Aside from characters behaving stupid, this movie also occasionally relies on annoying stroboscope-style flashing lights during monster attack scenes – something that always annoys me because trying to figure out what is taking place in such a scene always gives me a headache.
On the whole, though, The Void is a no-nonsense, straight-to-business tale of horror, gore, and death by tentacles that works. The pacing is good, and the movie is neither too long nor too short – it ends exactly when it should. I also like the way the script intertwines cosmic horror with the theme of loss and guilt – while that is nothing too groundbreaking, it adds a layer of pathos over the sordid gore in this film. If you love cosmic horror that is a throwback to the 1980s era of horror, try to catch this not-so-well-known little gem.