Basing your movie on Lovecraftian horror is not an easy feat, making a successful one is even trickier, but two Canadian filmmakers found themselves inspired by Guillermo del Toro’s repeatedly failed attempts to get his own Lovecraftian film, At the Mountains of Madness, into theaters, so with a little money — i.e. crowdfunded — writer/directors Steven Kostanski and Jeremy Gillespie brought forth a film called The Void, one that nicely follows in the footsteps of Roger Corman’s The Dunwich Horror and John Carpenter’s In the Mouth of Madness.
On a dark country road Patrolman Dan Carter (Aaron Poole) encounters a young man named James (Evan Stern) staggering out of the woods. James is obviously hurt, so Carter brings him to the nearest available hospital, but this turns out to be a bad idea on multiple levels. The hospital has recently suffered a major fire and is running on a skeleton crew — basically one doctor and three nurses — and one of those nurses turns out to be Dan’s estranged wife Allison (Kathleen Munroe). It is made apparent that their marriage is tense because of the recent loss of their unborn child — the dangers of childbirth will become a major recurring event in this film — and then to make matters worse the hospital is soon besieged by a group of hooded cultists.
Rounding out our cast of besieged characters is the kindly Doc Powell (Kenneth Welsh), who recently lost a child of his own, Nurse Beverly (Stephanie Belding) as our early horror canon fodder, Kim (Ellen Wong), a jaded and inept intern, State Trooper Mitchell (Art Hindle), a pregnant teenager (Grace Munro) and her grandfather (James Millington), and finally there is Vincent (Daniel Fathers) and Simon (Mik Byskov), a father/son team that arrive hunting James. Now those familiar with John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness will find familiar ground with The Void, as one by one our cast of characters are picked off and die horribly. The use of practical effects and gore is also very reminiscent of John Carpenter’s Thing, as nasty tentacles menace our heroes as one after another we see bodies transformed into horrifying monstrosities.
The film has some fantastic set pieces with the key one being the subbasement of the hospital — which didn’t actually exist before that night — as our small group of heroes prowl down flare-lit hallways and face off against nightmarish creatures that are right out of Dante’s IInferno.We also get glimpses of the dark, foreboding landscape that looks to be the home of The Old Gods themselves. In the area of cinematography, The Void utilizes red lighting and shadows to both create an unearthly atmosphere of dread, but also to help hide some of the film’s budgetary shortcomings, and it is all handled relatively well. The directors (also Steven Kostanski and Jeremy Gillespie) carefully dole out information and plot twists at a steady rate, keeping the viewer always a little off guard as to who is on whose side, and as is very typical of the genre, many questions are raised but much is left unanswered.
If you are either a fan of cult films such as Stuart Gordon’s From Beyond or the “body horror” films of David Cronenberg, then there is a lot on offer here for you, and it’s certainly a good enough lovecraftian entry to hold us over until we eventually — very hopefully — get Guillermo del Toro’s At the Mountains of Madness. Kostanski and Gillespie have assembled a fine group of actors to populate their tale of dark horror, and the amount of violence and splattered viscera should keep any gore hounds quite happy, but most of all, this is a nicely twisted little film that will keep you on the edge of your seat, and one I can highly recommend.
The Void (2016)
There aren’t a whole lot of Lovecraftian horror movies out there so when a new one pops up on the radar it’s quite the relief when it turns out to be pretty decent, and it’s obvious Kostanski and Gillespie are clearly fans of the genre as they heavily borrow from the greats.