The Void Review
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by: Jerry Smith
After tackling the exploitation film FATHER'S DAY, the low-budget but very imaginative MANBORG and the homage to al things giallo, THE EDITOR, one would think the guys in Astron-6 would coast on the brand of horror/comedy they've got quite the unique stamp on. The Canadian collective are some of the most unique filmmakers around and maybe that's why THE VOID, the new film co-written and directed by two of its members, Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski does the oppsite of what fans of their work will expect. It's the unique approach to genre storytelling that offers something reminsicent of what they're influenced by but also gives viewers something very original and one of a kind. With that approach front and center, THE VOID is not only a highly enjoyable film, but mark my words, DCP readers, it's also one of the greatest genre films of the last decade.
Combining elements similar in tone to John Carpenter's PRINCE OF DARKNESS and THE THING with traces of Fulci's THE BEYOND and ever some HELLRAISER thrown in for good measure, THE VOID follows Daniel Carter (Aaron Poole in easily the best genre performance of the year thus far), a young cop who finds an injured man in a field and has no choice but to take him to a nearby, soon to be closed hospital. Short on staff due to its impending shut down, the hospital in ihabited by a soft spoken and somewhat mysterious doctor (played excellently by Twin Peaks star Kenneth Welsh), a young nurse's aid (SCOTT PILGRIM's Ellen Wong), a pregnant woman and her grandfather, and adding some really interesting exposition and backstory, Allison, Daniel's estranged wife who lost their baby not too long before the film began. We're given such great backstories and fleshing out for each of the film's characters, that we really like each one of them very much by the time any turmoil or conflict comes to them, in the form of a mysterious, robe-wearing cult, creatures from god knows where and a couple of angry men aiming to find and kill the drifter that Daniel has brought to the hospital.
Practical effects are front and center in THE VOID and though there is some of the best CGI I've ever seen on display, it's those practical scenes of monsters and demonic entities that terrorize the trapped hospital residents that makes for one terrifying experience. We're asked to go on journies with each character and unlike a lot of films like THE VOID, we're given so much to work with on each character, that when the numbers begin to dwindle, it stings. It's a film about loss and how far one would go to get back what they lost, a film about confronting demons (in a literal and metaphorical sense) and a film about survival. The lengths and extremes that each character must go through in THE VOID keeps you on the edge of your seat and as the hospital begins to inject each member into their own personal hell, your heart sinks little by little until the imaginative, blood soaked finale.
WIth its mind-blowing special effects, ominous musical cues and WAY outside of the box approach, THE VOID would have already been one for the books, but the real standouts of the film lie within the performances from its actors. Aaron Poole's performance as Daniel is so interesting to watch, the young cop gets put through hell all throughout the film but refuses to give up and there's a passion in Poole's performance that really helps you latch onto the character and the emotional turmoil he goes through while trying to come to terms with the loss of a child, all while doing his best to get the group out alive. Also giving great performances, are the film's supporting roles, one of which is from THE BROOD's Art Hingle as a trooper who makes his way to the hospital to help out. It's great to see HIngle do more genre work and he's just one of the many reasons that THE VOID offers such a wide range of shocks, scares and double take moments.
Without any laughs and a very dark and serious tone, THE VOID shows how unique Gillespie and Kostanski are as filmmakers and really helps solidify their place in genre filmmaking. While Carpenter might be taking a sabbatical from filmmaking, THE VOID does an excellent job of picking up that ominous torch and giving one of the scariest and most exhilirating horror films of the past decade.