If you've seen 2011's Father's Day, or any of the films released by the Astron-6 production company, you probably think you know what you're getting into with The Void. The truth is, though, that you don't actually know what you're getting into with The Void. Whereas Astron-6 has always prided itself on creating schlocky horror with a shrewd sense of humour, The Void is mostly devoid of laughs — and it's a much better film because of that.
When rural police officer Daniel Carter (Aaron Poole) discovers an injured man crawling out of the forest, he rushes him to the local hospital, where the night staff (including his ex-wife) on hand is sparse and overworked. By the time two gun-toting men come looking for the victim, the hospital is surrounded by a cult-ish mob of mysterious figures in white cloaks carrying sacrificial knives, whose presence sets off a chain reaction of unexplainable violence. As Carter finds himself struggling to protect the innocent, he quickly learns that nothing is as it seems — especially once people start bursting into hideous monsters and the apocalypse appears to be rising up from within the hospital.
Whereas their previous work under the Astron-6 banner always felt like it came with a shit-eating grin and a wink, Gillespie and Kostanski aren't messing around with The Void. Some horror freaks might notice the odd nod to their influences (i.e. the inter-dimensional fuckery of Phantasm, the oozing creatures of The Thing), but Gillespie and Kostanski have developed one mind-bending mythology that keeps you tense and guessing until the end credits kick in.
The cast largely comprises unknowns, (Can-horror icon Art Hindle makes a cameo), but they do a fine job of moving along a plot that is as unrelenting as its big baddie. At times it relies a little too much on coincidence to help it move along, but you'll be relieved to see a film that's so generous with its pacing.
That said, its Kostanski's use of practical FX that steals the show. Made on a shoestring budget (boosted by an Indiegogo campaign), the impressive monsters he and his crew designed are nightmarish, repulsive and frighteningly lifelike; it's no wonder Hollywood calls on him regularly. In this age of using computers and Andy Serkis covered in dots to imagine a monster, Gillespie and Kostanski once again remind the world that you can do it with practical FX, and without breaking the bank. This film is worth seeing for the creatures alone.
We're calling it now: The Void is the most imaginative horror film you'll see this year. Even though it's being hailed as a '80s throwback, the ambition that Gillespie and Kostanski work with feels familiar yet refreshing. Nobody seems to be making horror flicks as considered and carefully as these two these days. (D Films)