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Review: The Void – “A Lovecraftian nightmare brought to life.”

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The Void is the new film written and directed by Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski. It stars Aaron Poole (Forsaken), Kathleen Munroe (Alphas, Patriot), Ellen Wong (Scott Pilgrim vs the World), Kenneth Welsh (Twin Peaks, The Aviator) and Daniel Fathers. It also owes a huge thanks to two men – H.P. Lovecraft and John Carpenter. If you like either of them then you are in for a treat. I enjoy the works of both men so I absolutely loved The Void.

Encountering a blood-soaked man on a dark deserted road, a police officer rushes the victim to the local hospital. Soon the staff and patients are trapped by a terrifying, otherworldly threat and forced on a hellish voyage into the depths of the building to escape the nightmare.

That’s the basic synopsis and that’s all you really need to know. Like many stories dealing with the Cthulhu Mythos, this involves strange cults, people who are not people, unknowable ancient entities and a whole lots of tentacles. It builds up the mystery, tension and horror so well. It is a Lovecraftian nightmare brought to life.

The Void does the whole Lovecraft thing so well, something that many other films have tried and failed to do. We know strange things have been going on as the film starts, but we only find out the vaguest of specifics as the various characters discover then. Like many Lovecraft stories we do not learn everything and have to piece things together from brief conversations, strange looks and the like. We are also left with many questions, but that is in keeping with this kind of tale. I love it when we are pulled along with the people in the film and we have no choice, but to follow them down those dark, scary stairs that should not be there.

That brings us to the scares. If you are doing a film like this, it has to be scary and unsettling. The Void manages to do a cracking job with that. We have white robed cultists just standing in the woods, people peeling off their own skin and large tentacle beasties chasing people down. There are many more bizarre, freakish things to behold in the film and they are all brilliant and, more importantly, mainly practical special effects. It just goes to show that having practical effects can just enhance the horror so much and I hope we see more of that to go with the abundance of CG we get in many mainstream movies.

Think of it as mix between John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness, The Thing and Assault on Precinct 13. That is a whole lot of Carpenter and, to some they could say it is too much. However, like Carpenter, The Void draws from the Mythos and is a fine addition to those kind of films.

The Void isn’t perfect. We get strong performances from the cast, especially Aaron Poole and the always wonderful Kenneth Welsh, but most of the characters are just briefly sketched out. We don’t get enough from all of them to make them more than just potential victims. It is a short, sharp film, but maybe another 10 minutes just to establish the characters a little more may have helped. Then there is the ending. It’s good, but I am still undecided whether it worked well or not in terms of what had gone before. There is also one moment that is rather similar to a moment in a John Carpenter film, but to say more would spoil things.

They’re just minor points and none detract from the gorgeous, skin-crawling horror of what has gone before.

As I said at the beginning, if you like a bit of Lovecraft, John Carpenter or practical effects then check out The Void. Just don’t be surprised if The Void looks back at you!

The Void is out now on Digital HD and on Blu-ray & DVD with lots of extras from 24th April.

 

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