MOVIE REVIEW: The Void
A good horror film can put shivers up your spine, occasionally even make your skin crawl, but what you don’t normally expect is a warm, gushy feeling of nostalgia. The Void does both. Disturbing and, for us oldies, a pillow to hug at night.
Made a few years ago, it is well worth a revisit. The film made a bit of a splash upon release, mostly for the pleasingly old skool practical fx that brought to mind Carpenter’s The Thing. It’s another of the horror master’s oeuvres that is brought to mind upon another go around though; Prince of Darkness. Admittedly, this has long been thought to be a minor work, and this reviewer fell into that trap too. Upon reflection, however, a more recent viewing was a discovery of surprises. The Void could not be accused of being 100 percent original, that is not its intention. Much like Carpenter’s earlier work, it follows a path of older films before it. You can cite Hellraiser and other Barker efforts in the case of this film. Prince of Darkness has been said, by its creator, to be greatly influenced by the Quatermass mythos, and Nigel Kneale’s work in general. The meeting point between these two would be ‘weird fiction’, the speculative branch of writing which lead to cosmic horror, including H.P. Lovecraft and the lesser-known works by William Hope Hodgson, for example.
On its own strengths, The Void is a miracle in low-budget indie horror, a fact revealed by the directors when they talk about how this gorefest got made. Or the reality being that it nearly didn’t, again and again. Initially set up as a go project based on its enticing and attention-grabbing trailer, the financing was pulled after a third of the budget was already spent, yet not a shot had been filmed. Then again at a later stage, when all locations had been swapped over and instead of a summer shoot it was by this point December in Northern Ontario, an unforgiving landscape faced them with conditions worsening by the day. The hospital setting being filled in by a local school, but onward they marched. Against all the odds, and money supplied by crowdfunding, this is an example of a film that wanted to be made, against the will of everything else. Much like the hell that spreads through the location, as creatures from another dimension challenge survival of the protagonists.
Stunningly set up, with plucky performances by a clearly engaged cast, the fx are marvellous of course, yet there is more to this winner. There are moments of genuine unease, and the esoteric nature of what is invading our world is played out nicely, with convincing visuals. A nightmare to make, a nightmare spreading into our world, but a total pleasure to watch. Worth a go.