The “fighting foes from a single location” structure has been utilised in so many screenplays over the years but often makes for exhilarating film-making: from Night of the Living Dead and The Evil Dead to Assault on Precinct 13, Alien and the low budget likes of Stalled and Green Room. It’s a concept that lends itself so well to horror (and low budgets), so provides the perfect basis for Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski’s feature debut, The Void.
Despite seeming unique with its dimension transcending creatures, The Void is heavily inspired by various parts of 1980s/90s horrors such as: Halloween 2, Hellraiser, The Thing, The Exorcist III and Re-animator. But it often also feels hugely energising as the aforementioned facets are inventively melded for a fresh phantasmagorical b-flick which mostly recalls the oeuvre of Clive Barker and Stuart Gordon and makes for eye-blistering cinema.
Rookie cop Daniel Carter (Aaron Poole) drives an injured man to a local hospital. Once there, they get held up with a skulk of locals after monsters, mutants and white cloaked weirdos surround the building then pick off its inhabitants like gore lodged vol-au-vents. Gillespie/Kostanski’s film flaunts sprightly mayhem, gloomy moods, sci-fi otherworldliness and flourishes from a chasm of sub-genres. After an eye-widening kill in the first five minutes, the story sifts into supernatural lunacy as freaks, possessed patients and demons cajole the cast into other incarnations or early graves/hell. Supporting characters take the form of an irking Michael Parks type cop who turns up to annoy everyone and has “dead” written all over him from the outset while forgettable others tap their watches, waiting for their times to die at the hands of either possessed friends or inter-dimensional transmutations.
Grief deepens Daniel (the protagonist) to make him vulnerable but he is far too perfunctorily performed. Meanwhile auto-dialogue wilts the narrative but is often very witty. Man walks into a room full of bodies and strewn limbs before proclaiming: “this is a slaughterhouse.” While other clangers include: “You’re saying he was some kind of sex fiend, religious thing?” and “smells like some kind of grave;” all of which are uttered with concrete conviction but zero panache.
The Void is ingloriously botched by haphazard acting and stock dialogue. The script skips merrily into bat-shit topography as phantom zone-like multiverses are perforated and preposterous monsters leak out, but Gillespie/Kostanski’s film booms like an inebriated slap of genre-flexing cine-pulp due to its brazen love for 80s/90s horror and DTV trash cinema. Despite being blemished it is equally ambitious and an irrefutable hoot to boot.
The Void is released on May 31st