Every so often a film like this comes along, celebrating the craft of practical horror effects. And I couldn’t be happier with the results.
Back in 2011 there was a remake of The Thing. Well, a prequel where everything in the first film oddly seemed to repeat itself. Anyway, the SFX team hired to do all the monster effects had their work CGI’d over. Angry about this, the team set off to make their own film using the same techniques. That film was Harbinger Down. It ended up being a real disappointment. All practical effects sure but not much else. Like plot, direction, acting, writing…
Thankfully The Void gets everything right. Hell, The Void is what The Thing remake should have been.
Sure The Void has actors that are all pretty good in their roles, but the main star here are those amazing monster effects. The first time you actually see one, a giant blob of goopy flesh and tentacles, it will have you thoroughly creeped out. It’s not just the same monster design either, you get to witness a variety of nastiness as the film goes along.
A lot of the imagery reminded me a lot of a Tool album cover, hell I expected Hooker with a Penis to start playing. Okay, maybe not that song, it is my favorite, so I’m always looking for an opportunity for anyone to use the song. This movie is more compatible with something from 10,000 Days or Undertow. Especial towards the end when all hell starts breaking loose.
Practical effects versus CGI.
A lot of the time when I see a really expertly done kill or something as mundane as just popping an eye into a real person’s head without cutting away, like they did in Dead & Buried, it gets you curious, how the hell did they pull that off? It’s what inspired a bunch of special effects artists over the years, including the late great Stan Winston. We need more practical. Eventually you’ll hit your limitations and CGI will be needed. That’s fine. But to over rely of computer graphics is such a huge mistake. A lot of the times, it just doesn’t look as good.
Now that leads us into who made The Void.
Astron-6, I’m not sure if anyone is familiar with their work. Feather’s Day? Manborg? They’re a group of friends that banded together to make 80’s inspired horror comedies. The Void features two from the group. But in no way is this a comedy. It is however very 80’s inspired. This film also seem independent of Astron-6 as well. Being directed by Jeremy Gillespie (Father’s Day) and Steven Kostanski (Manborg).
The film stars Aaron Poole as sheriff Carter. Who distractingly looks a lot like Aaron Paul. Anyway, he finds a man badly injured beside the road, rushing him to their small town’s only hospital.
The hospital is working on a skeleton crew since a fire spread through most of the building a while back. The sheriff runs into his ex-wife Allison, played by the only actor I recognized in this, Kathleen Munroe. I just recently watched her in the Amazon series Patriot, which is fantastic by the way, everyone needs to check it out.
Allison is the only other nurse on duty besides Beverly, but Beverly isn’t sticking around long (she gonna die!), so don’t get comfortable having her around. Actually, that goes for most of the characters in this.
The only other nurse is Kim, but she’s in training. I wouldn’t trust her to check my temperature. The other two dead meats are Ben and his teen granddaughter Maggie who is very very pregnant.
There’s some awkwardness between the sheriff and Allison. Besides being divorced, they also lost a baby not long ago. I get the sense they haven’t seen much of each other after the split. Thankfully, Beverly breaks the tension by cutting off her own face and stabbing a patient to death in the eye.
Carter is forced to shoot her down, killing her. Kind of taken aback by the situation, Carter passes out, getting visions of something “unusual”.
When he wakes up, a state police trooper is there. He was originally there for the guy Carter brought in, but now it seems he has another task at hand. Trying to figure out what the fuck just happened in this hospital.
Seems our little junkie Carter picked off the side of the road was a part of some kind of massacre at a farmhouse not far from the hospital.
Wanting to call this in, Carter goes out to his squad car only to find a strange knife wielding loon in a white robe waiting for him.
After getting attacked, stabbed in the chest, he runs back to the hospital, but the loons aren’t following. They don’t want in, they just don’t want anyone else getting out.
That’s when we get the first sight of one of the monsters. Beverly has mutated into this disgusting ball of flesh, whipping her gross tentacles around, trying to get at our junkie Carter brought in, who is named James by the way.
After setting him free and locking monster Bev in a room, two more people show up armed with a rifle and a few machetes. These two are father and son Vincent and Simon, and they aren’t messing around. They want James the junkie dead. They believe he’s apart of whatever is going on, that means axe to the face. Carter on the other hand wants answers.
At a standoff, the only doctor left in town, Dr. Richard Powell gets stabbed in the neck, bleeding out on the floor dead.
While this madness is happening, the state trooper is grabbed by the Bev monster. Whatever she was going to do to him, I’m not sure I want to know. She’s gunned down before she can do whatever she had planned. Or maybe she was just trying to infect the trooper, which she does. But the process is stopped by axes and gunfire. I didn’t think it would be possible for her to look worse than she did but after they get done hacking away at her, she looks like an exploded can of Spam. As before when she just looked like something my cat puked up.
The trooper is dead, Bev is dead and the pregnant teen Maggie is having complications with her baby. Unfortunately, the doctor is dead. Or is he, seeing as his body has gone missing.
Wanting the shotgun in his squad car, Carter and the father and son team, go with him to his car. They get ambushed by the cult members but are able to grab what they needed.
While everyone with a weapon is being distracted with what’s going on outside, Allison goes in the back, looking for medical supplies for Maggie. That’s when an undead Dr. Richard Powell grabs her. Yup, the doc was in on it. He’s been the leader of these crazy cultist this whole time, experimenting with the dark arts to call upon… something. It isn’t hell, I don’t think that’s what is going on. Very cthulhu esque. Monsters from another dimension. The Void if you will.
The doc lost his daughter at a young age and has resorted to other means to try to bring her back.
And to do this he needs one more thing. Ready for another twist? Maggie is having his love child. She’s also a part of this crazy cult. Grandpa Ben gets his throat cut, leaving nurse in training Kim the only one left in a hospital now overrun by cultists.
The others? Well, they went down into the section of the hospital that has been sealed off because of the fire. A fire started by the doc’s disgusting failed science projects.
Carter is looking for his wife, who sadly has already been turned into a monster.
Wanting revenge, the three, plus one junkie, enter the basement. A section of the hospital that shouldn’t exist. But here it is, filled with human body parts. So basically they stepped into Hellraiser.
Speaking of Hellraiser, the doc has shed his skin, looking a lot like Frank Cotton.
It’s time now to open the portal into whatever hellscape he’s managed to tap into.
Carter gets a knife in the back by Maggie. In return, Maggie has her baby. Or at least I guess that’s what that thing was. It looked kind of like a more deformed version of the fleshy alien from Alien: Resurrection.
The only way Carter can see to stop this madness is to tackle the doc into the portal he made, closing it behind him.
The story doesn’t end there. We are treated to a little scene at the end of Carter and Allison meeting up in this strange world, looking up at a giant floating monolith. Maybe the only time CGI is ever used in the film.
For a low budget film, everything looked amazing. Not once did it ever feel cheap or like they were cutting corners. If you’re in the mood for some good old fashion horror like The Thing, you have to check this out. It is a must see for any self-proclaimed gorehound or horror fan.
Yet again, another film that might just make my top 10 best this year.
If you see it streaming somewhere, check it out. If it’s playing at a theater near you, you have to see this on the big screen. Hell, as a horror fan, it’s your obligation to go out and see this. Make the studios see that this is what we want in our horror, not another PG-13 generic ghost story.
If more people see this, more films like this will get made. And that is one hell of a great thing.
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