★★★ out of ★★★★★
A Gory Throwback to 1980’s Horror
When I saw the trailer for the Void, my heart fluttered a little. It looked like a throwback to the old Stuart Gordon straight to video gory goop-fests like From Beyond, or the Reanimator. The upside and the promise made it look like it could rival the Evil Dead, Prince of Darkness, or my touchstone favorite, The Thing. It looked scary as hell. The movie featured practical monstrous effects overlaid on top of a Lovecraftian cult and a gate to hell… so it had all the trappings of something I would really enjoy.
The story begins with a rural sheriff’s deputy on patrol, who picks up a badly injured junkie on the side of the road. He brings him to the nearby hospital, currently manned by a skeleton crew and a few patients in attendance. Rather quickly, a number of events escalate the situation. One of the nurses goes lunatic and kills a patient. The deputy is forced to kill the crazy nurse. Then a couple of vengeful men arrive to take out the junkie. The sheriff shows up which leads to a violent showdown, only to be interrupted by the transmogrified corpse of the nurse, who now was some demonic beast. A group of cultists shows up with creepy triangular cutouts in their hoods. And then something else creepy happens… and then… and then… until we find out that there is a gate to hell in the basement. Of course, there is!
The movie is something of a hot mess. An enjoyable mess, but the plot construction that should have been fairly straightforward meanders like the maze of this hospital. I would say that The Void is closer to the straight to video category than I had hoped it would be. It does have some of what it promised. It has gross, sloppy, and scary monsters, complete with monstrous transformations. The movie is action-packed, with plenty of violent and intense scenes. But in the end, it would be hard to make sense of what you just saw. I think a strong comparison in tone and feel could be made to Hellraiser, with all the demons and flaying and screaming down corridors that happen in both films.
With a bit more exposition and some tighter editing, this could have been something special. The cast sold out in their performances… though I’m not sure I would call the acting great. I would have liked some humor in this film. Some horror films, like The Witch or A Dark Song, take a somber tone that really doesn’t ask for humor. Splattery movies, however, can always use a little funny to take off the edge and cut the tension. If the director had blended a little levity could have made this film like The Reanimator and made it a bit more enjoyable. This is a grim grindhouse film, down to the way it was shot, and promoted, and I can certainly appreciate it for what it is. The void is certainly worth seeing, and worth seeing what the newcomer Director Jeremy Gillespie does next.