Release: April 7, 2017
Written and Directed by Steven Kostanski and Jeremy Gillespie
Starring: Aaron Poole as Daniel Carter, Kenneth Walsh as Dr. Richard Powell, Daniel Fathers as Vincent, Mik Byskov as Simon, Kathleen Munroe as Allison Fraser, and Evan Stern as James
Here there be spoilers.
James, along with a fellow junkie (a female), flees from a farmhouse. He manages to escape through the woods, but his cohort is taken down by Vincent and Simon and burned to death. Daniel Carter, a police officer about to end his shift for the night, sees James on the side of the road injured and rushes him to a nearby hospital where his strong female horror character cliche wife, Allison, works as a nurse. Also at the hospital are shifty horror doctor Richard Powell, disposable nurse character Beverly, incompetent intern Kim, Random pregnant teenager Maggie, Maggie’s grandfather Ben, and doomed patient Cliff. Upon securing his quarry in an exam room, Daniel happens upon an entranced Beverly murdering disposable patient Cliff with a pair of scissors. When she turns to move toward Daniel, he shoots her dead. Lapsing into a panic, Daniel passes out and dreams of an amorphous, swirling void inhabited by the most eldritch being comprehensible to the limited human imagination: big, black triangles. Daniel is roused back to the waking world by Dr. Powell and Allison. As the three attempt to make sense of the situation, cliche superior officer character Mitchell enters to collect James and to berate Daniel. Daniel goes to his cruiser to call in Beverly’s death and is confronted by a member of an esoteric cult of triangle worshipers. They get into a scuffle and Daniel is stabbed. When he manages to make it back into the hospital, the party notice that the hospital has been surrounded by members of the Esoteric Order of the Obsidian Triangle. Daniel and Mitchell rush to James’ room when they hear him screaming and find the deceased Beverly quite alive, having mutated into a tentacle monster. Rescuing James and locking Beverly in the room, the three men make for the lobby where they are confronted by Vincent and Simon who hold the group and gunpoint and demand custody of James. James takes Allison hostage and stabs Dr. Powell, who bleeds out. In the midst of the fray, “Beverly” emerges and eats Mitchell. Vincent and Simon kill Beverly, then James is subdued and handcuffed to a bar protruding from the wall. Whilst Vincent, Daniel, and Simon go to retrieve a shotgun and ammunition from Daniel’s cruiser (which has been moved across the parking lot by cultists apparently), Allison goes to the basement to get supplies for Maggie, who is getting close to giving birth. Dr. Powell, having returned to life, takes Allison. Daniel and Vincent investigate Allison’s disappearance, finding photos and documents that indicate that the Most High Order of the Sacred Triangle of Yuggoth was started by Dr. Powell. Powell phones Daniel and taunts him about he and Allison’s dead baby and the triangles he saw while unconscious. Daniel, Vincent, and Simon perform a bit of enhanced interrogation on James who informs the three that Powell has the power to transform people into tentacle monsters. The three men make for the morgue with a captive James in tow. Powell, looking somewhat Cenobite like, has Allison lashed to a table and has seeded her with one of his tentacle creatures. Back upstairs, Ben pleads with inept intern Kim to perform a C-section on Maggie who has seemingly began to go into labour. In the midst of their argument, Maggie kills Ben and reveals herself to be a member of the triangle cult carrying a child intended to be a vessel for one of Powell’s tentacle monsters. As cultists come to escort Maggie downstairs, Kim runs to hide in a closet where she remains for the rest of the film. Back downstairs, Daniel finds the captive Allison with tentacles protruding from her gut and beheads her with an axe. Daniel finds himself in a room with a triangle on the wall. After a brief dialogue exchange with Powell, who tells Daniel of his ability of his ability to stave off death thanks to his communing with the extra dimensional triangles, Maggie appears and gives Daniel a good stab. From his new vantage point on the floor, Daniel watches as Powell recites an incantation that causes Maggie to have a bit of buyer’s remorse just before the doctor’s “daughter” bursts forth from her gut. Vincent and Simon appear and do battle with the creature. As Vincent is about to be consumed by the creature, he douses it and himself with alcohol, allowing Simon to set them both on fire. As Powell stands transforming before the triangle, Daniel tackles him and both men fall into the void. Simon escapes and finds himself back in the hospital, while the film ends with a shot of Daniel and Allison trapped in a desolate land, a desolate land of triangles.
“The Void” is kind of a mixed bag. Aesthetically, it’s good. Kostanski and Gillespie seem to understand a basic truism of low budget horror, low light is your best friend. Aside from a couple of scenes, every time you see a monster or a disfigured person, the light is kept incredibly low. They also manage to coax some good performances (by horror standards at least) from their C tier cast. The setting is also good choice. In low budget horror flicks cramped quarters are good, big open spaces are bad. Where the problems arise are with the writing. The movie seems to be a somewhat confused fan fiction. The basic story is sort of a Lovecraftian thing, at times almost bordering on being a loose (very loose) adaptation of “The Whisperer in Darkness” with elements of Clive Barker’s “Hellraiser.” A man communes with ancient beings from another dimension with the intent of obtaining esoteric knowledge at the cost of his humanity. That part works. What didn’t work for me were the Cronenberg monsters. I like David Cronenberg as much as the next self respecting horror fan, but body bursting and morphing (for me at least) doesn’t really mesh well with supernatural horror. I found the ending shot of Daniel and Allison holding hands in desolate triangle world to be more than a trifle unnecessary. If you’re going to crib your ending, at least partially, from John Carpenter’s “Prince of Darkness,” don’t muck it up by trying to shoehorn some sort of hopeful happy ending tripe into it. If you, dear reader, have not figured it out by now, I also didn’t care for the extradimensional beings being depicted as triangles. This was no doubt an attempt at a visual nod to Leviathan from “Hellbound: Hellraiser II,” but it just felt unnecessary. This is a problem I have with a lot of modern horror. Nothing can just be implied anymore, everything must be shown. Since I’ve invoked it already, I will reference “Prince of Darkness” again. Apart from a hand, you never actually see the “anti god.” They spend the entire film fighting an entity that you never actually see, and it works. I feel like “The Void” would have been helped if its extradimensional menace had been treated in a similar manner.
“The Void” wasn’t a terrible film. It gets a lot wrong, very wrong. However, it’s not a total train wreck. I have definitely seen worse films in this genre. Hell, horror is packed with bad films. They seem to be the genre’s bread and butter and most people watch them because they’re bad. That being said, this flick is basically the horror equivalent of “Rogue One.” It’s good for a single viewing, but you’re not exactly going to be chomping at the bit to watch it again. Subsequent viewings will only reveal further flaws. I actually viewed it twice before writing this review, and I likely would have been far more friendly to it had I written this review after the first viewing.