There’s something to be said about a movie that sets out to be more than the sum of its parts, one that tries to do something new while paying homage to films that come before it, when films strive to be bigger than its contemporaries both in a subversive and direct way. The Void is one of those films. It does the best it can to be a AAA horror movie, while working with extremely small budget, and mostly succeeds on that front. But it can’t seem to keep itself afloat as the filmmakers add more ideas and twists that end up doing more harm than good.
Crowdfunded on the Indiegogo platform by the writer/director duo of Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kotanski, The Void is about a cop who finds a drunk, injured man on the road and decides to take him to the hospital where his estranged wife resides, along with a skeleton crew of hospital employees. Not too long after, the facility is surrounded by cultists who aren’t trying to break in, but to keep them inside. Things become more and more sinister, as the people inside struggle to survive. It’s a simple enough plot that sounds like your regular fare of horror, but what The Void succeeds in is both in placing nods to Horror of years beyond and in combining multiple subgenres of horror from all periods of cinema.
The John Carpenter vibes are in affect during this entire film, giving off waves of nostalgia. It also has some the best practical effects to date in a low budget film and it isn’t afraid to hide this fact. The later sequences place these effects front and center and doesn’t ever tone them down. To be completely blunt, if The Thing, Hellraiser, Silent Hill all hooked up with H.P. Lovecraft, this would be the alien, demonic love child. It always keeps you guessing what will happen next. It starts off as a slasher. Then it weaves into a psychological thriller. The next, a cult murder film. Then all of sudden it’s creature feature, then it’s a sci-fi horror. It’s all of these things at once. If it sounds confusing, rest assured I felt the same way. I had no idea what to expect as the movie changed tonally from one thing to the next, and it keeps you on your toes, not knowing what to expect. While this can be seen as a positive, it’s also the biggest negative. It’s just way too bloated.
With so much going on, none of the characters ever get more development besides their very first introductions and none of them are memorable. The bitter cop, the annoying student, the estranged wife, the asshole survivor. That’s all the exposition they ever get and in fact, the only character to get any more depth is the doctor. Later on in the film, explanations become too much. It’s a lackluster ending to a movie that starts off so well but ends up buckling to its own ambiton. It brings down the entire experience in its efforts to add to itself, when these ideas are best kept for another movie or sequel.
As a whole, The Void is a fun, gory splatter fest. It’s ambitous, it isn’t afraid to carve its own path, and has some great setpiece moments. But as it progresses and you start to reach the finale, it caves in under its own weight. There’s simply too many ideas stuffed into one small budget, crowdfunded film. All this being said, give this movie a watch. It really is an experience that demands more than one viewing. At the very least, you can rest assured you’ll have a good time in The Void.
3 out of 5 Zombie Heads