Many horror fans lament the apparent absence of Lovecraft-inspired horror movies since the glory days of Stuart Gordon and John Carpenter. Of course, we have seen a few Lovecraftian gems here and there since then, but few of those films manage to achieve that illusive atmosphere that we seem to crave. Luckily, writer-directors Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski have unexpectedly conjured up a worthy addition to the annals of cosmic horror with their new film, The Void.
Starting off as a deceptively simple siege movie, The Void stars Aaron Poole as Daniel Carter, a small-town cop who gets unwittingly caught up in unfathomably horrific circumstances. When Carter attempts to rescue a wounded stranger by taking him to the nearest hospital, he unleashes a chain of events that results in the hospital’s skeleton crew and patients being attacked by gruesome entities and a mysterious cult. This small group must attempt to survive the night all the while dealing with the supernatural implications of their pursuers.
Although it tackles some original concepts and boasts some truly unique (not to mention nightmarish) visuals, The Void is, at its core, a love-letter to what has become an exceedingly rare form of horror in Hollywood. Equal parts The Thing, From Beyond and some kind of hallucinogenic drug trip, this is retro filmmaking at its finest. While nostalgic looks at older styles of filmmaking can sometimes end up feeling derivative, Gillespie and Kostanski manage to inject enough of their own style to keep things consistently fresh.
Speaking of older styles of filmmaking, the practical effects in this film are some of the best (or worst, if you consider the subject matter) that I’ve seen in horror for a long time, even rivalling the work of masters like Stan Winston and Tom Savini. Even if you don’t quite appreciate the story or characters, these visuals will haunt you long after the credits roll. There is some decent usage of CGI as well, but those elements can’t really compare to the physical monstrosities gracing the screen.
While the cast does a fantastic job at reacting to the inexplicable terror around them, you can’t help but feel that these characters could have been developed a bit more. Poole makes for an extremely compelling protagonist, but he can’t quite carry the film by himself. The vastly underrated Ellen Wong also makes an appearance, which is a plus, but the script still isn’t doing anyone any favors. This is a minor gripe, however, as the film as a whole still manages to be exceptionally entertaining, not to mention terrifying.
Despite its flaws, The Void is ultimately the Lovecraftian horror movie that we’ve been hoping for. The ending might not be entirely satisfying, and the characters could have been improved, but this is still an immensely enjoyable film. The effects work and monster designs are top-notch, and the movie somehow captures that rare feeling of cosmic dread that oh-so-many horror films strive for, but few ever achieve. It may not quite reach the heights of the films that inspired it, but The Void is most definitely worth a watch.
The Void will be getting a limited theatrical release starting April 7th!