The Void (2016)

There is a Hell. This is worse.

Writers: Jeremy Gillespie, Steven Kostanski
Directors: Jeremy Gillespie, Steven Kostanski

The Void is a film that shouldn’t work but somehow does.

The story begins with two men killing the occupants of a house in the country. One of the victims escapes and is later found unconscious and bleeding by local Sheriff Daniel Carter (Aaron Poole). Carter rushes him to the emergency department at the all but closed local hospital.

Shortly after that things start getting weird. The hospital is surrounded by a group of people wearing white overalls with a black triangle over their faces – slightly weird. Then one of the patients kills another – weird. A bit later one of the patients turns into a… thing. Now it’s very weird.

At this point I was really wondering what was going on. In fact things turn out to be a lot less complex than I expected. Once the real story is revealed it’s a very traditional one that could have come straight from the 1980s.

To be honest it’s rather silly.

Had the actual story been clear from the start I’d probably have spent the 90 minutes giggling. But Gillespie and Kostanski did a great job of pulling me in during the first act. By the time of the main reveal I was sufficiently into it that I could ride the silliness.

A lot of the credit for this is down to the script, in particular the characters. Unlike so many horror movies the support characters really are characters. In particular the inexperienced intern Kim (superbly played by Ellen Wong) is one of the most believable and rounded support characters I’ve seen in a horror movie for a long time. Special credit also to Mik Byskov for making a success of a character with lots of screen time but no dialogue.

Direction is competent with plenty of shadows – a good choice for a film with Things. The creatures and effects were convincing, probably more so than if they’d been exposed to the light. One thing that did jar a little was some of the music which was a bit too ‘in your face’ at times.

Near the end the script hints at the oldest, most cliched ending in horror cinema… then avoids it. The actual final scene is nicely ambiguous – it could be very good or very bad for those involved.

It’s possible to read all sorts of metaphysical interpretations into The Void, but probably not worth it. This is a modern treatment of a classic ’80s style plot and to my surprise I really enjoyed it.