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Jason Widgington [Celluloid 04.07.17] Canada scifi horror thriller

Fans of Steven Kostanski and Jeremy Gillespie's work within the Canadian film collective known as Astron-6, specifically Manborg and Father's Day, are in for a surprise with their latest offering, The Void, which they wrote and directed together. Gone is the tongue-in-cheek, wink-and-a-nod satire of those two previous films, which has been replaced with a much darker and serious tone, all while still paying homage to a bygone era of genre cinema.

It's a typical boring night on patrol for small-town police officer Daniel Carter (Aaron Poole) until a man covered in blood (Evan Stern) stumbles out of the woods directly in front of him. Rushing him to the nearly abandoned local hospital may seem like a good idea, but the hospital is quickly surrounded by a group of white-cloaked and -hooded figures wielding knives.

While the small group of people inside the hospital - including Carter's estranged wife Allison (Kathleen Munroe), a very pregnant young woman (Grace Munro) and her grandfather (James Millington), and what seems to be the only doctor on staff (Kenneth Welsh) - try to figure out what is happening, in come shotgun-armed Vincent (Daniel Fathers) and oddly silent Simon (Mik Byskov) attempting to kill the bloody stranger.

At this point, The Void takes a complete left turn, switching from a typical siege thriller into what can only be described as cosmic Lovecraftian horror, as we find out that the hospital is housing a portal to another dimension filled with all sorts of hideous tentacled monsters and anybody who dies doesn't necessarily stay dead. Who will survive this night of horrors? Who is the leader of this odd cult and what is its purpose? Can the town - and the world - be saved?

While the description makes The Void seem like an incomprehensible mess, it's actually quite well laid out and all of these questions are inevitably answered. Sure, it's not exactly the most original concept, with traces of John Carpenter (The Thing and Prince of Darkness), Lucio Fulci (The Beyond), and Clive Barker (Hellraiser) all easily detected, but Kostanski and Gillespie have always zeroed in on a particular influence or influences in telling their own stories. What's important is that it's a solid concept with few plot issues and decent performances, including some great scenery chewing by genre vet Art Hindle as a state trooper.

What's even more important than those factors in this type of film, though, are the monsters themselves, and The Void truly is a showcase for Kostanski's considerable practical effects talents. As odd as this may seem, the otherworldly creatures we encounter throughout The Void seem entirely plausible and realistic, with limbs protruding from the most unexpected places and tentacles galore.

With plenty of blood and guts flying around, faces peeled off, and graphic “baby” births, it goes without saying that this is a film for true gore enthusiasts. Throw in a delightful Carpenter-esque synth score by Toronto trio Blitz//Berlin, and what you get is a vastly entertaining but ominously dark tribute to the cosmic horror of the '80s. Who could ask for anything more?

The Void opens in select theaters April 7, 2017.

Recommended Release: Hellraiser - The Scarlet Box

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Wumpus (5 years ago) Reply

Sounds promising. I definitely have a soft spot for Carpenter and Clive Barker.


Wumpus (5 years ago) Reply

Just watched it. "Traces" of Prince of Darkness is a massive understatement. Unfortunately the writers decided to spend less time on the mythology and more time exploring every character's identical back stories about dead children.


ChrisR (5 years ago) Reply

It's been many years since I've seen a film with such a weak script and, oddly enough, such poor acting. It seemed muddled and directionless and the climax looked like a dress rehearsal of a Stargate episode. I am surprised by the paucity of the acting because there so many great, but unemployed, actors out there. The feeble script and palpable lack of tension also surprised me. You cna make someone getting aparking ticket one of the most tense and unbearable scenes imaginable if you are a good director and have a good script, and you can make monster births and exploding heads utterly banal if you don't. I found the last half hour almost unwatchably tedious.

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