It’s the right place at the wrong time for Deputy Daniel Carter, parked in a patrol car as a young man stumbles out of the woods into his headlights and collapses. In a bad way, Daniel opts to take him to the nearest facility, Marsh County Memorial Hospital, even though they are operating on a skeleton staff prior to relocation to their new site following a major fire in the basement.
As fate would have it, on the front desk as he carries the semi conscious and bloodied man through the door is his estranged wife Allison; strangely, she’s not expecting them despite Daniel having asked dispatch to warn them of his arrival, but they admit the patient, one of only a handful in the near deserted hospital.
As trainee nurse Kim teases patient Cliff, perched on his bed as they watch Night of the Living Dead, and heavily pregnant Maggie sits with her grandfather in the waiting room, grateful they don’t as yet have to make the longer trip to the city, Allison, fellow nurse Beverly and Doctor Powell manage to get new arrival sedated.
Able only to ascertain that his name is James, Allison observes that from the marks on his arms he’s no stranger to needles and it’s just another night on the front lines of the underfunded emergency services until Daniel walks in on Beverly pulling a pair of scissors from Cliff’s eye socket then carving up her own face, cutting the flesh away before lunging at Daniel, until they realise that the hospital is surrounded by figures in white robes, armed, hostile, waiting.
Written and directed by Astron-6’s Steven Kostanski and Jeremy Gillespie, deranged production company behind The Editor and ABC’s of Death 2‘s W is for Wish, The Void is every bit as off-kilter as those works but has sloughed off the coat of comedic levity to reveal the festering ugliness beneath, a portal opened to another dimension of horror as the silent cultists close in.
Any sense of irony which might offer a buffer between audience and the spiralling descent and escalating danger depicted on screen surgically removed, the influences summoned by the incantations of Brooks and Gillespie lose none of their power for their familiarity, principal among them the diverse films of John Carpenter.
The siege situation of Assault on Precinct 13, the whitewashed brick corridors splashed red of Hallowe’en II, the unfathomable entity poised beyond the gates of reality of Prince of Darkness, the mutating monstrosity of The Thing through which it will manifest itself are all channelled while the tentacled madness of H P Lovecraft lurks on the threshold if the burned out basement.
A protracted descent into the deeper layers of a bloody hell akin to Can Evrenol’s Baskin with a pinch of newborn xenomorph before it all goes full Hellraiser II, the whole thrown into a blender without the lid on, the prosthetics and creatures are truly amazing, all created practically without any reliance on digital effects allowing the ensemble cast to be genuinely present in their performances and fearful reactions.
The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh‘s Aaron Poole is Deputy Carter, trying to instil a calm in the others he is barely able to maintain himself, facing a situation far beyond anything he has trained for without resources or backup, any professional detachment dissolved by being surrounded by people whom he knows and is ultimately responsible for.
While Allison (Stargate Universe‘s Kathleen Munroe) focuses on the job she infuriates Daniel with her insistence that she has patients to care of and her own safety is secondary to their needs, an ethic she has learned from the unflappable Doctor Richard Powell (Twin Peaks‘ Kenneth Welsh) while conversely Kim (Scott Pilgrim vs the World‘s Ellen Wong) is utterly unprepared for what is demanded of her.
With images seeping into the unconscious thoughts of Daniel, glimpses of other worlds and possibilities, his own memories used against him, The Void is anything but empty, full of imagination and answers which are only hinted as the characters struggle to cope with the barest periphery of what has been brought forth.
Created on a modest budget, the monsters raised from the depths by a successful crowdfunding campaign, The Void is perhaps not groundbreaking, instead harking back to the classics of the eighties with a conspicuous absence of cellphones, but it is more honest in intent and execution and crucially more enjoyable than many by-the-numbers studio horrors and will hopefully open further portals for Kostanski and Gillespie’s future endeavours.
The Void is currently on limited theatrical release prior to DVD and Blu-ray release on Monday 24th April