THE VOID [Mayhem/Celluloid Screams Festival]

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Small town police officer Daniel Carter (Poole) encounters a bloodied man on a desolate highway and takes him to a rural hospital staffed by a skeleton crew which includes Carter’s estranged wife, Allison (Munroe) and father-in-law, Dr Powell (Welsh, in fine sinister form). Carter soon finds that all is not well as patients begin to mutate into monsters and the building becomes surrounded by mysterious cloaked figures. Aided by a motley group of survivors, Carter has to descend the hellish depths of the hospital’s cellars where he comes face to face with demons - both those of his own making and from another dimension.

The Void sees co-directors Steven Kostanski and Jeremy Gillespie go from the parody of their previous Astron-6 projects (Manborg, Father’s Day) to a pastiche of classic siege horror. It’s very much a magpie piece, stealing liberally from the likes of John Carpenter, Clive Barker, and Lucio Fulci amongst others, without offering much of its own. The Void starts off in Assault on Precinct 13 and Prince of Darkness mode, locking into a claustrophobic setting while introducing an array of enigmatic, often suspicious characters fighting each other as well as the creatures that attack them. There’s even the obligatory glimpse of Romero’s Night of the Living Dead on a TV screen in the hospital ward, to complete the homage. From there Kostanski and Gillespie move into Hellraiser territory by way of The Thing, as Powell transforms from benevolent patriarch into monstrous, slimy demon bad-guy. Finally, The Void gets all Lovecraftian on our asses, as tentacled creatures over-run the hospital eventually giving birth to the dimension-shifting Void itself (gooey birthing scenes are a major motif of this movie).

‘Scope cinematography and a moody synth score enhance the generally sombre mood, setting up what promises on first sight to be a tight, claustrophobic little horror-thriller, à la Splinter. However, The Void ultimately descends into a morass of (admittedly pretty impressive) creature and make-up effects and never becomes more than the sum of its dissipated parts and ad-hoc homages. This is hell, but whose hell is it? On the plus side, as a straight-ish genre offering, it’s well-directed and suspenseful. Overall, though, we’re left with the feeling that a more original approach to the script would have made The Void a better movie. Enjoyable and entertaining but without the cultish knowingness of earlier Astron-6 works like The Editor, The Void certainly marks something of a departure in terms of a more bankable product for its makers – it’s a perfectly decent low budget body horror aimed at a wider audience than their previous work. But even when you take it on those terms, without necessarily having an appreciation of Astron-6’s previous films, it’s not really much more than that.

THE VOID / CERT: TBC / DIRECTORS & SCREENPLAY: STEVEN KOSTANSKI, JEREMY GILLESPIE / STARRING: AARON POOLE, ELLEN WONG, KATHLEEN MUNROE, KENNETH WELSH / RELEASE DATE: TBC

Expected Rating: 9 out of 10
Actual Rating:


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