THE STORY – Cloaked, cult-like figures trap a police officer (Aaron Poole), patients and staffers inside a hospital that is a gateway to evil.
THE CAST – Aaron Poole, Kenneth Welsh, Daniel Fathers, Kathleen Munroe & Ellen Wong
THE TEAM – Steven Kostanski & Jeremy Gillespie (Directors/Writers)
THE RUNNING TIME – 90 Minutes
By Josh W.
When Roger Ebert reviewed John Carpenter’s “The Thing”, he proceeded to say that it was a barf-bag movie. His opinions of the cult classic go into a different direction than most, but he isn’t incorrect when he describes it as; “…a geek show, a gross-out movie in which teenagers can dare one another to watch the screen.” In fact, there should be an entire category in the horror genre described just as the “barf-bag” genre. Yet as modern horror films continuously release, we see filmmakers stray further and further away from this style of filmmaking. Now whether that be the confidence that it takes to make a film of this caliber or the sheer effort that goes into making these films appalling to look at. Despite lacking several qualities, indie film “The Void” is a modern body horror masterpiece that turns its shock factor up to eleven.
After finding an injured stranger in the woods, police officer Daniel Carter (Aaron Poole) delivers this stranger to a local understaffed hospital. Upon arrival, the hospital begins to become surrounded by mysterious cloaked figures who seem to be a part of some terrifying cult. After some disturbing and other worldly events begin occurring inside the hospital, it seems more and more likely that the events are linked with this cult. With a simple straight forward story, “The Void” manages to disturb in more ways than one.
“The Void” is a beautiful love letter to iconic body horror films like Carpenter’s “The Thing” or Cronenberg’s “The Fly.” The film starts with such a slow burn until it grows into an explosion of repulsive and sickening events. Human bodies begin contorting and disfiguring into these disturbing and unnatural creatures that clearly belong to a different otherworldly dimension. From people peeling/flaying their own skin off of their face, to entire creature-like things that grow unnatural limbs and all move in a way reminiscent of the spider walk scene in “The Exorcist.” The practical special effects used throughout the film are pristine and repulsive. Making your stomach twist and contort, almost like how the creatures do, “The Void” is an uncomfortable and disturbing viewing. forcing you to cringe with every cut and shot of a creature or death.
Each death in the film is treated almost as a one-up contest. With the first death starting out small and then each death becoming progressively more sickening and unique in its own way. No death feels similar to any other death, not only in this film but also deaths in the films that inspired this one. Not only channeling something special and unique, but also something gluttonous and disturbing. The film is infatuated with making its audience just as sick as the visuals are. In the theater, the audience was constantly vocally proclaiming just how disturbed and sickened they were, from viewers constantly leaving the theater, to viewers trying their hardest to not lose their dinner. “The Void” is a sheer display of perverse compulsion that lasts almost the full 90-minute runtime.
However, the film is an incredibly difficult viewing experience in more way than one. The screenplay is absolutely atrocious, almost as disturbing as some of the creatures. The dialogue scenes feel unnatural and forced. Most of the lines are either pure exposition or just a bore to listen to. The characters are definitely compelling in a few ways from being mysterious and suspicious, to confident and courageous. Each character also has quite an important role in the overall plot, which is remarkable considering that this happens so rarely in modern horror films. This definitely goes overlooked because of how horribly the characters interact.
This is not the actor’s fault either. Most of the actors in the film are unknown, yet give believable and intriguing performances. Each actor carries the film in some way or another and that is incredibly impressive. Modern horror films lack a few qualities that made older horror films really exciting, one of those qualities being the interactions. Characters and character interaction is such an important aspect in film, especially in horror films. Horror films rely on several different qualities and it seems like modern horror directors have forgotten to utilize all of those qualities. Most horror directors nowadays seem to be so focused on the scares or attempting to frighten their audience that they forget that they are making a film and “The Void” only has one-half of this important quality. Its characters are interesting and important but the characters have terrible interactions, which we cannot necessarily attribute to the actors but to the screenplay.
The film does take quite a shocking turn that will either make the film or break it for you. It changes from a simple disgusting body horror film to something cosmic. The darker intentions of the cult become revealed as something that preaches to a higher power and the idea of “being reborn.” This turn comes a bit unexpectedly and abrasively which could be unsettling to some, but it fits the overall feel of the film. Since “The Void” is so high stakes and is constantly trying to one up itself, the final moments of the film solidify just how over the top the filmmakers are willing to go.
“The Void” is a supernatural, cosmic, gluttonous approach to this “barf bag” style of filmmaking that Ebert referred to. With a horrifying screenplay that is more horrifying than the creatures, the characters are still enjoyable and entertaining. The performances from the unknown actors are truthful and fit the tone of the film incredibly well. With distasteful and horrifying creature design and horror elements, the film is hard to stomach, which makes it all the more enjoyable. “The Void” is an indie horror that is destined to be a cult classic and totally not worth missing.
THE FINAL SCORE
THE GOOD – Gross out body horror will please genre fans. Unknown actors give remarkably strong performances.
THE BAD – Poor dialogue from what is a truly a disgusting screenplay.