31 Fright Nights: Halloween 2017, Night #25 – The Void (2016)

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Director: Steven Kostanski & Jeremy Gillespie

Writer(s): Steven Kostanski & Jeremy Gillespie

Studio/Distributor: Cave Painting Pictures

Budget: Unknown

Box Office: $149,365

Release Date: 22 September, 2016

IMDb Rating: 5.8/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 73%

UK Blu Ray release? Yes

Cast

Aaron Poole – Daniel Carter

Kenneth Welsh – Dr Richard Powell

Daniel Fathers – The Father

Kathleen Munroe – Allison Fraser

Ellen Wong – Kim

Art Hindle – Mitchell

Stephanie Belding – Beverly

Grace Munro – Maggie

Trailer

Plot According to IMDb

Shortly after delivering a patient to an understaffed hospital, a police officer experiences strange and violent occurrences seemingly linked to a group of mysterious hooded figures.

Inertia’s Insight

These days, choosing a film to watch is almost impossible. Streaming has led the market to become saturated in content. Just try and find something to watch on Netflix and you’ll inevitably end up just chilling instead. Films can now be made cheaper because the platform used to distribute them requires little to no advertising. The advertising it does require is enabled by social media, another platform whose reach is incredible for only a fraction of the traditional price. So it’s no surprise that with so much out there, some gems can often fall through the cracks, and just as they did in the genre’s heyday, become cult classics for which a niche audience revere it for the genius that it is.

The Void is just one of those films to come out of these modern times. Anticipation for the film was built in various horror forums and hashtags, with word of mouth sealing the deal for many horror fans salivating for this unique entry that blends Cronenberg, Lovecraft and Carpenter to perfection.

The film is brutal from the opening moments, the scene at the farmhouse indicating the style of events to come as well as laying the groundwork for the story line. Arriving at the hospital, we’re introduced to a diverse group of people just stuck waiting for something to happen – a pregnant woman, her grandfather, a patient, doctor, nurse, police officer… One of each type. Pretty soon they’re held captive inside a la Assault on Precinct 13, by a group of mysterious robed figures in white who would rather die than see them leave.

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The way in which the robed cult figures are framed is just perfect. The wide angles capture their power and presence far better than any close-ups could. They’re also not overused; any more and their impact would be diminished, but they’re effective in their determination. The fact that the figures remain masked makes them even more menacing.

With such a diverse range of characters, the inevitable clash of personalities quickly escalates. Just as it starts to feel like something you’ve seen before, the shit really hits the fan… If there’s one thing that is evident from this film, Kostanski & Gillespie have done their homework. The 80’s nostalgic tones aren’t hiding, and as it plays out it ticks off references and styles that compile a greatest hits of the best sci-fi and horror from that near-perfect decade:

✓ Cronenberg
Carpenter
Barker
Jackson
Holland
Argento

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But the biggest reference of all cannot be overlooked: Lovecraft. The style of the monsters, the theory of alternate dimensions, of life after death and, with particular focus on the imagery in the final act, the appearance of a God-like Dr Powell as the tentacles reach from the symbols on the wall all screams the cosmic horror of America’s infamous horror writer.

Where the 80’s influence pays off is in the FX. Foregoing digital manipulation in favour of tangible effects, the monsters are truly hideous. An amalgamation of God knows what, their presence in the dimly lit basement that resembles hell is pitch perfect. So too is the scene in which Dr Powell “operates” – quite simply a visual feast, it makes you wish you were watching it on grainy VHS.

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Though the plot is mildly contrived and reliant on coincidence, there’s no denying the effect that the ending has, rounding out a film that is savage and brutal; a film that truly embodies its influence’s name: a love of the craft.

Inertia’s Ideal Score ( out of 5)

★★★★

Trivia

  • The Void was a crowdfunded project
  • The tagline ‘There is Hell. This is Worse’ comes from director Steven Kostanski’s 2007 short film, Insanophenia
  • The monster, the cult, the planet and the mystery behind it are based on H.P. Lovecraft’s creation Cthulhu
  • There is a clear influence of Lovecraft’s stories ‘The Call of Cthulhu’, ‘The Dunwich Horror’ and ‘The Shadow Over Innsmouth’

Quotes

DR POWELL: I lost my daughter to the abyss, but tonight I am calling her back.


Tomorrow: Night #27 – The Purge: Anarchy (2014)

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