There is a Hell… This is worse.
Whenever anyone mentions Canadian horror-comedy collective Astron-6, the feature films that come to mind are their hilarious Father’s Day, The Editor or Manborg outings that while fit nicely into the horror scene, do not provide real scares on the whole. The Void represents a tonal departure for members Steven Kostanski and Jeremy Gillespie in the sense that this is not a comedy horror, but a straight-up, well-crafted horror film which is open and celebratory of its influences.
These influences come from 1980s John Carpenter works, Hellraiser, The Beyond and even The Wicker Man but are worn well by the production, which despite adopting elements of these films, combines them in an interesting way. Comparisons can be made to Baskin in some parts of the film, but for me, the wraparound concept for The Void was more skilful and interesting.
A lot of the interest stems from the cast with Aaron Poole as central hero Daniel Carter providing a likeable leading man who finds himself out of his depth when his patrol takes a very dark turn. The supporting cast who make up the characters at the hospital provide an interesting ensemble that allows the story to move from one to the other and keep things moving. In this way, Kostanski and Gillespie have made what is mostly a single-location film far more dynamic. A special mention to Ellen Wong as Kim, whose sympathetic performance turns what could be a one-dimensional character into something far more endearing.
The sense of dread throughout is expertly done and adds to the tension. Rather than throwing everything at the characters from the beginning of the film, The Void allows the viewer to take in the strange happenings and think about them for a considerable amount of time. Thanks to the afore-mentioned dynamism of the production, this didn’t feel like a slow-burn. In fact, at the end of the film I could have happily sat for much longer. This balance between letting things settle amongst the action marks both directors as incredibly skilful.
The cloaked characters of the publicity material provide the slow creeping dread (and they provide some of the moments that have stayed with me longest) but the stars of the show are the practical effects which emerge later in the film. Practical effects have always been a large element of the work in Astron-6 films, but The Void takes it to a whole new level, largely thanks to the IndieGoGo campaign put out by Kostanski and Gillespie. Every penny of that fund seems to have been utilised on screen and it is a testament to the talent of both directors and their wider team.
If you go into The Void expecting an Astron-6 film – be ready to be disappointed, but if you prepare yourself for a throwback to practical effects and increasingly claustrophobic set pieces you will have a hell of a good time.
For more information on The Void go to thevoidmovie.com
The Void is showing at Abertoir Horror Festival at 10.30pm on November 15th. Visit abertoir.co.uk for more information and tickets.