The Void has some issues, mostly with its plotting and a lack of explanation for some of its random monster designs, but the practical effects work from Astron 6 is tough to ignore; that makes The Void a good, but not great, Lovecraftian horror film.
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Excellent practical special effects
Influence from Lovecraft, Silent Hill, The Thing, and more
The Void takes H.P. Lovecraft’s obsession with otherness and elder gods and melds it with Hellraiser, also finding time to work in some obvious enthusiasm for the practical effects of The Thing. That’s a wide, but ultimately related, list of inspirations, but it’s also difficult to match the overwhelming successes that all three of those things have found in film history. Writers/directors Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski are up to the challenge, though, following a cop named Daniel (Aaron Poole) as he deals with a bunch of goopy tentacled monsters in a relatively abandoned hospital while cult members wearing triangle hoods block their escape.
The film manages an excellent moody atmosphere thanks to that hospital setting; due to a fire, the staff are in the process of moving to a new location, but they’ve kept the ER open for emergencies. Daniel’s wife Allison (Kathleen Munroe) happens to work there, and they all get stuck inside after a cult forms outside of the hospital, while inside nurses transform into giant tentacled beasts and a doctor begins opening a triangular portal to another dimension.
The Void quickly gets to the action after a particularly brutal opening scene, leaving little time for development or exposition. In this case, none of that is really necessary, and Gillespie and Kostanski mix moments of backstory into the dialogue, hinting at Allison and Daniel’s prior miscarriage and drawing parallels to some of the film’s themes about birth (and rebirth). It’s a good decision to leave out more explicit exposition, because The Void draws its audience in with multiple monster scares right from the beginning.
With that said, Gillespie and Kostanski often run into the issue of consistency; The Void sports a number of impressive practical monster effects, but a lot of them feel fairly disconnected as a whole. The script is never able to fully draw together all of its disparate parts, and ultimately much of The Void plays out like a video game – Silent Hill being the most apt reference – sporting a number of different enemies without a thorough understanding of the world’s inner workings.
It leads to a number of messy reveals, especially in The Void‘s final moments, that fail to pull together the different pieces of the film’s storyline. Ultimately, Gillespie and Kostanski’s writing is the main problem; it’s often too generic with a lack of interesting characters, and much of it devolves into arguments between protagonists instead of exploring the more interesting elements of its monsters and void-opening.
But while the plot is The Void at its most disappointing, the rest of Gillespie and Kostanski’s work is the film at its best. The special effects are fantastic, culminating in a very spooky basement scene – tinged in red – where our protagonists are attacked by undead monsters from all sides. This is goopy, gory stuff, and the practical effects rival some of the best SFX masters in horror; if you’re looking for a violent and gruesome showing, then The Void is for you.
Altogether, the film’s not as successful as one would hope given the promising practical work and interesting ideas at play pulling from Lovecraftian eldritch horror. Those looking for a strong plot will be sorely disappointed, but The Void is also worth a watch specifically because of Astron 6’s practical effects work. While The Void is often messily assembled, it’s also not devoid of elements that make horror fans happy, and thus worthy of recommendation.
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