Intensive scare unit – The Void (Film Review)

Rating:

As a creepy cult descend upon the deserted hospital of a small town, the local sheriff and a ragtag team of staff prepare to fight like hell. Making numerous twists and turns along the way, this low-budget, ‘Non-Carpenter’ Canadian horror is a gory delight that shows all the signs of being a labour of love. And, sure, while the scares (even by my low standards) are somewhat tame, and the plot leaves something to be desired, the energised performances and undeniably awesome practical effects make The Void more than worth the time of any horror fan.

the void film review 2016 kotanski

So, I should say upfront that I am not connoisseur of creature features, nor am I a stalwart of scares in general. I tend to baulk at even the slightest insinuation of jumpy scares. As such, it’s been quite some time since I went to the actual, factual cinema to see a horror flick. The last time was to see the first Paranormal Activity film. But even then I saw less of the inside of Katie and Micah’s home and considerably more of the inside of my sweaty palms and twitching fingers (clasped as they were around my eyes for most of the run-time). With that being said, I really rather enjoyed The Void.

I’m happy to report that the cast all make good use of the script. Collectively they look like they’re having a ball with the OTT scenario, and the film is all the better for it. Aaron Poole in particular is a delight. He makes a great leading man – charismatic and engaging in every one of his scenes, playing the reluctant-small-town-hero role with aplomb.

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the void film review 2016 kotanski gillespie

However, I found the film to frustrate even while it did delight. It plays itself close to the edge of pastiche but continually pulls away at key moments, opting instead for a more serious approach to the supernatural, where one may have expected meta-humour to prevail. The Void is more of a straight shooter than what one may expect from its low-budget gore-by-the-bucket aesthetic. But that isn’t to say there aren’t laughs to be had. The film is gleeful in its proliferation of nastiness in a way that recalls Braindead or the work of Sam Rami. Unfortunately, the filmmaker’s attempts to draw out a sense of inter-dimensional dread with such a thin plot left me at times unimpressed. The directors themselves claim that “unlike Manborg and Father’s Day (their previous no-budget features) this time we aren’t joking around. We are committed to introducing audiences to a unique horror-mythology.” A laudable claim to be sure, but for my money the film works best when enjoyed as a work of camp thrills and less as a work of serious horror.

3/5

Dir: Steven Kostanski, Jeremy Gillespie
Scr: Steven Kostanski, Jeremy Gillespie
Cast: Aaron Poole, Kathleen Munro, Kenneth Walsh
Prd: Casey Walker, Jonathan Bronfman
DOP: Samy Inayeh
Music: Joseph Murray, Menalon Music, Lodewijk Vos
Country: Canada
Year: 2017
Run time: 90 mins

The Void is released in UK cinemas on 31st March.