The Void (2016)

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I guess in the world of modern film it must, inevitably, become increasingly difficult to come up with fresh ideas. Many things which you see at the cinema now are mere variations of what has gone before: add a few tweaks – a new character, a different location – but the same basic premise has, if you search around, been seen before in some form or other. Nowhere is this truer than with films which fall within the horror genre. After all you can only do so much with a mad axeman or some grainy film footage found on a discarded video camera, before you get the feeling you’ve been here before – many times. And so is the case with The Void.  When analysed closely the new, no-holds barred, horror extravaganza written and directed by Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski contains many elements from classic horror, even if they have been cleverly and subtly changed to give the impression of something edgy and different.

Finding a young man called James (Evan Stern) half coherent and badly hurt stumbling along a lonely highway, police officer Daniel Carter (Aaron Poole) picks him up and takes him to a nearby hospital.  However it soon appears that James has been witness to something despicable and evil which took place in the local vicinity, the perpetrators of which are now after him.  Unfortunately, unknown to both James and Daniel, the centre from which the evil is emanating is focused on the hospital, and they have now entered into a realm of unimaginable terror from which there will be no escape.

If, as they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then those behind The Void must be trying to suck up to someone big time.  The nods here towards horror genre classics (particularly from the 1980s) are so profuse you soon loose count – The Beyond (1981), Dead and Buried (1981), Halloween (1981) and Hellraiser (1987) to name but a few.  However, where many films fail when succumbing to the same pitfall, The Void surprisingly seems to work.  Is it the degree of professionalism and believability which the cast – including stalwarts like Aaron Poole, Kenneth Welsh and Kathleen Munroe – bring to the film’s admittedly outlandish premise.  Perhaps it’s that the whole proceedings are carried of such professionalism for a film by two filmmakers relatively new to the process of feature directing.  Or maybe that the viewer is simply overcome by the alarming realism and violence with which the screen is quickly awash – there are no cutaways here, when metal hits flesh.  Whatever the reasons, there is no denying that this is a film which carries the viewer along with its sheer verve, leaving you drained yet smiling by the film’s admittedly open ended finale – they do have to leave the opportunity for a sequel.

As is often the case with films like this, what there is of a plot is pretty basic – after all who wants a storyline to get in the way of good, old-fashioned carnage: here we have eye gouging, axe splitting, scalpel wielding horror on a grand scale, to the point that even those with the most cast iron constitutions will be hard put not to look away at some stage.  The setting is also rather limited, most of the action being restricted to the confines of a virtually empty hospital and a warren of gloomy service corridors which run beneath it.  However speed is of the essence here – at a mere 90 minutes the film doesn’t have time to outstay its welcome – and the onslaught of mayhem is kept moving so swiftly that it’s over before you, or many of the cast, realise whats hit them.

All-in-all The Void is like a quick shot of adrenaline to the arm, which jolts you into consciousness and leaves you on a high from which there are unlikely to be any long lasting side effects – either good or bad.

The Void was released on DVD and Blu-ray on 24th April, 2017.  A host of extras include a director’s commentary, proof of concept trailer and various looks behind the scenes.

Directors: Steven Kostanski, Jeremy Gillespie
Writers: Steven Kostanski, Jeremy Gillespie
Stars: Aaron Poole, Kenneth Welsh, Daniel Fathers,
Kathleen Munroe, Ellen Wong
Runtime: 90 mins
Country: Canada

Film Rating: ★★★☆☆

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