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New Release Review - THE VOID

the void review
A group of individuals become trapped in a hospital and menaced by a mysterious group.







Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Jeremy Gillespie, Steven Kostanski

Starring: Kathleen Munroe, Ellen Wong, Kenneth Welsh, Aaron Poole, Evan Stern, Art Hindle

the void poster


Filmmakers rarely make the move from FX departments to directing, but the few examples of such have delivered largely positive results. The most famous case is James Cameron, who worked behind the scenes on a number of Roger Corman productions before wielding the megaphone on Piranha 2: Flying Killers. Tom Savini, arguably horror's most iconic make-up artist, did a decent job with his 1990 remake of Night of the Living Dead. On TV, Greg Nicotero, of the KNB FX group, has won much praise for his directing work on The Walking Dead.

the void

The Void is written and directed by the duo of Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski, members of the Astron 6 filmmaking collective, and both boasting FX work credits on such high profile projects as Suicide Squad, Pacific Rim and TV's Hannibal. Between them, they've previously directed low budget horrors Father's Day, Manborg and a segment of The ABCs of Death 2, but The Void is their most high profile effort yet. On the evidence so far, Gillespie and Kostanski should stick to their FX work, as their practical makeup and creature designs are the only notable aspect of The Void.

Set in a small town hospital, The Void follows a disparate group of individuals under siege from a mysterious group of figures shrouded in Klan-like white robes with black triangles covering their faces. If you've seen Night of the Living Dead (a clip of which can be seen playing on a hospital TV) or any of its many knockoffs, you'll be familiar with the dynamic of characters arguing over how best to deal with the situation. A mysterious father and son team represent the gung-ho 'let's torch the place' side, while local cop Carter (Aaron Poole) seeks less drastic solutions, particularly because his ex-wife (Kathleen Munroe) has been taken captive in the hospital basement by deranged doctor Powell (Kenneth Welsh). Elsewhere a pregnant teenage girl (Grace Munro) has gone into labour at the most inconvenient time imaginable, leaving an inexperienced intern (Ellen Wong) to deal with the crisis.

the void

The influence of John Carpenter on Gillespie and Kostanski's film is front and centre, from the hospital setting of Halloween II, to the siege setup of Assault on Precinct 13, to the sinewy creatures of The Thing. That's where the comparisons end however. The Void boasts none of the suspense, tension and wry humour Carpenter is known for. Memorable set-pieces are almost non-existent. The hospital set, with its treacherous corridors and shadowy crannies, is wasted as Gillespie and Kostanski fail to exploit its potential. Similarly under-used is the 2.35:1 aspect ratio, which the great horror filmmakers use to mine terror from negative space at the edges of the frame, but here serves no real purpose. The score, by trio Blitz//Berlin (best known for their contributions to the trailers of The Girl on the Train and Fifty Shades Darker), is as generic as they come, an incessant din that rarely evolves to reflect what's on screen.

If the movie sported a sense of humour like the films it's recalling, it might go a long way towards papering over the above cracks, but it's all played with such a straight face that its faults are left all the more exposed.

the void

The Void's one saving grace is its practical effects. We get some visually interesting Lovecraftian creatures of the type you might find in an '80s Stuart Gordon movie, but they're never given an interesting role in the narrative, for the most part merely serving as gruesome window dressing. As an FX reel, The Void should keep its creators in work for the foreseeable future, but as a horror movie it's all too lacking in the scares, suspense and thrills departments.

Signature Entertainment presents The Void at UK cinemas from 31st March, on Digital 7th April and DVD & Blu-ray on 24th April. Tickets: ourscreen.com/film/The-Void


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