I’m not entirely sure what I just watched but I’d watch it all over again because the effects. Oh, dear sweet, wonderful effects. Practical effects. Real, beautiful, gory, horrific effects that make my little heart sing. Creature designs were incredible and detailed. They looked like something that would crawl up from the depths of your very worst nightmares but I honestly didn’t care because it was all done so well. The movement actors underneath it all brought a sickening reality to how they walked with one particular mention going to a horrific creature which spider walks. The time and energy and passion which went into designing these creatures and effects is absolutely breathtaking, especially when the complete lack of budget is considered.Whilst the actual storytelling, cast and everything else require discussion as well, they almost don’t matter to me. Almost.
Today’s horror was The Void a 2016 offering from Steven Kostanski and Jeremy Gillespie. Intended as a more serious departure from their early, more comedic creations, The Void is a dark, trippy tale full of twists, turns and a lot of tentacles. A LOT of a tentacles. There’s a lot of psychological horror here, a lot of unknown, a lot of monstrosities and so much gore. So much gore. Oh god I actually loved this. You see its not just because of the practical effects (and they’re ALL practical, save for a green screen right at the end which can be forgiven as it looks alright) but there’s kisses blown to Lovecraft, Egyptian mythology, classic body horror and 80s nostalgia.
The people who wrote this and made this are nuts and I actually want to meet them and tell them that they’re geniuses. I don’t know why they are – but they are. This film was made with very little money, but they don’t scrimp. Near entirely made in an old high school, the set design is great, the cast is great, the effects are great, the writing is…mostly pretty good.
This is not a film that you can just sit and watch and go ‘hey that was a nice, well rounded story, I can walk away from this with no questions whatsoever’, because The Void tells you the absolute minimum and revels in the unknown. You’re allowed to draw your own conclusions and whilst that’s frustrating for some, I really enjoyed that. Going in I believed it would just be a supernatural horror, but very quickly it turns into much more. It’s an existential horror, it’s a psychological horror and it’s full of body horror. It’s icky, its sickly, its sad and its tricky. Some rhymes there for you.
Let’s talk plot; Deputy Sheriff Daniel Carter finds a bloody young man on the road and takes him to the local hospital. It’s running on a skeleton crew and largely abandoned due to a mysterious fire. Putting him into the care of his estranged wife Allison and Dr Powell, Carter very quickly starts to realise that strange thing are afoot in the hospital. After a violent encounter with a member of the hospital staff, we’re introduced to something dark and something very, very evil roaming the halls. From there, this film gently walks to the edge of a very, very tall cliff and swan dives off without taking a single look back. It all goes absolutely bat shit in the craziest, most wonderful ways as we move from the surface (literally and metaphysically) deep into the underbelly of the hospital, the characters themselves and maybe even hell. Who knows. The movie certainly doesn’t.
And that’s pretty much all I can tell you without spoiling anything. I’m serious. Literally anything else would take away from the intensity of this film. It occasionally stops to breathe in the first act but after that its all go. The pacing is consistent and its edited well considering the short amount of time they had, though there were occasional moments where it was genuinely a bit too dark to tell what was happening. The sound editing is actually great – the score is minimalistic, but the dialogue is clear and audio cues and creature sounds were spot on.
Let’s talk cast. Led by Aaron Poole as Deputy Carter, we’re given some great performances. Poole is a good lead, taking this vulnerable, emotionally damaged character and giving him strength and drive. The character takes a real beating throughout the film but you genuinely believed he could get up and keep going just by the look in Poole’s eyes. Other standout characters include Ellen Wong as intern nurse Kim who gives us a genuine performance through the eyes of someone really not ready for the challenges she’s facing. But the best characters for me were Vincent and Simon, played wonderfully by Daniel Fathers and Vik Byskov. These two were great. Fathers gives a brooding, unhinged performance whilst Byskov, whose character can’t speak, has to portray so much through his eyes and facial expressions its hard not to be impressed with him.
After watching I decided to view the behind the scenes and boy did they have a rough time making this film. From having financiers pull out, to having virtually no budget, to poor weather conditions, script revisions and ending production seasons later than planned, The Void is one of those films that its kind of a miracle it got made. But I’m so happy it was. I’m genuinely tempted to watch it again straight away from start to finish.
A shorter review tonight (but I really could go on about this and trust me, there’s a huge amount to be discussed here) but I think this is one I would like to revisit at a later date. I had a great time with it and as the most horror orientated film so far in the horror-thon, I’m genuinely surprised to find that its probably my favourite. It has a couple of problems here and there but my sheer enjoyment of it kind of removes any real qualms I have.
Thank you for reading and tomorrow I’ll be taking a look at another body horror, The Fly.