Film Review: The Void

A disparate group of people find themselves trapped in a near-deserted hospital in this affectionate homage to ’80s horror films.
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Small-town police officer Daniel Carter (Aaron Poole) is on a deserted rural road when he spots an injured man (Evan Stern) crawling along the shoulder and rushes him to Marsh County Memorial Hospital. It's a less than optimal choice—the place is old, scheduled to be shuttered soon and operating with a skeleton staff—but it's also nearby, a plus that quickly becomes a minus. Surrounded by woods and seriously isolated, Marsh County Memorial is not the place you want to be when a small army of cultists in head-to-toe white robes with black triangles appliquéd over their faces starts to gather outside with clearly malevolent intent. Especially not when something is disrupting all communications devices and there's some mighty weird stuff going on in the dark, creepy basement.

The glib but not accurate take is that The Void, co-written and directed by Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski, is John Carpenter's Assault on Precinct 13 as reimagined by H.P. Lovecraft... and that's not a bad thing. Sure, the cross-section of trapped humanity is pretty conventional and includes no-nonsense State Trooper Mitchell (Art Hindle of David Cronenberg's The Brood); a hugely pregnant woman and her husband (Trish Rainone and Daniel Fathers); useless, freaked-out nurse Kim (Ellen Wong); authoritative, senior physician Dr. Powell (Kenneth Welsh), and no-nonsense head-nurse Allison (Kathleen Munroe), who's also Daniel's estranged ex. But the web of relationships among the various characters is efficiently sketched, and while it wouldn't be accurate to say that you care equally about all of them, you care enough about enough of them that the movie doesn't feel like the narrative version of a carnival shooting gallery once the mayhem kicks into high gear.

Kostanski, a veteran special-effects artist, also designed the film’s extensive practical effects, which were crowdfunded through Indiegogo and recall the tentacle horror of Carpenter's The Thing, impressively executed on a significantly lower budget. To call the film an effects showcase would be to undersell it; they're terrific, but they serve a plot that hangs together without getting bogged down in the kind of elaborately detailed mythology that play better on the page than the screen (exhibit A being the majority of actual Lovecraft movies, with the conspicuous exception of 2005's The Call of Cthulhu). The Void is a slice of nostalgic delight, good gory fun that's neither kitsch nor weighed down by a tedious string of quotes from other movies. If you spot the allusions, that's great, but you can also sit back and just enjoy the fun.

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