• Void, The



    Released by: Screen Media
    Released on: May 23rd, 2017.
    Director: Jeremy Gillespie, Steven Kostanski
    Cast: Aaron Poole, Kenneth Welsh, Daniel Fathers, Kathleen Munroe, Ellen Wong, Evan Stern
    Year: 2016
    Purchase From Diabolik DVD

    The Movie:

    The front door of a house out in the middle of nowhere opens. A young man and a young woman run out, behind them a man fires at them. The girl goes down, the guy escapes. The girl is doused in what looks like lighter fluid and set ablaze. It’s an intense opening scene to The Void, a 2016 feature length horror picture written and directed by Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski (two members of Astron-6, the filmmaking collective that brought us The Editor and Father’s Day).

    From here, a cop named Daniel Carter (Aaron Poole) is awoken from a nap in his car when dispatch calls in to check on him. He’s about to finish his shift when he sees a man stumble out of the woods in front of him. He goes to check on the guy, assuming he’s drunk, and finds that he’s covered in blood. He takes this man, James (Even Stern), to the nearest hospital knowing full well it’s staffed by a skeleton crew – it seems that there was a fire there not that long ago and they’re in the middle of a move. For now, the ER is open. When he arrives, his ex-wife Allison (Kathleen Munroe) turns out to be one of the doctor’s on staff that night, along with a nurse named Beverly (Stephanie Belding), an intern named Kim (Ellen Wong) and an older male doctor named Dr. Richard Powell (Kenneth Welsh). They take James into a room and put him under observation, learning soon enough that the blood that was all over him isn’t his. It’s around this time that Daniel notices some strange figures cloaked in white, black triangles on the front of their hoods, skulking about in the darkness outside. When Beverly comes at James with a pair of scissors, muttering to herself about the face she’s just cut off of herself, he has to shoot her in self-defense. Shortly after this happens, a state trooper named Mitchell (Art Hindle)arrives on the scene.

    From here, a father (Daniel Fathers) and son (Mik Byskov) show up, armed and angry. They’re looking for James and are willing to kill any of the other people in the hospital to get to him, even pregnant Maggie (Grace Munro) and her kindly grandfather Ben (James Millington). Things calm down a bit, but once Maggie goes into labor and Allison needs supplies from another part of the hospital to save the life of mother and child, things go from bad to worse as Carter leads the rest of the survivors into the burned out basement of the hospital where the truth about what’s really going on is slowly revealed.

    This one throws a lot of influences into the pot. The biggest one is the writing of H.P. Lovecraft, as the last half hour of the film really feels like something he could have written in how it deals with dark, otherworldly beings described as ‘older than God.’ The creature effects, all of which are done using practical techniques rather than CGI and which are seriously impressive, make some nods to Carpenter’s The Thing while the big finish conjures up memories of Hellbound: Hellraiser II and Fulci’s The Beyond. This thing is shot with loads of style, lots of really evocative lighting and on some genuinely impressive sets – on a visual level alone, The Void is a rousing success.

    As to the story itself, it works. It does leave a lot of questions unanswered by the time the end credits hit the screen, something that’s bound to annoy certain viewers, but there’s nothing wrong with a movie dealing in the supernatural the way that this picture does leaving some things open to interpretation. If the film were to spell everything out for us, it just wouldn’t be as interesting. Those expecting the parodic humor that Astron-6 is known for may be shocked by just how straight everything is played this time around. Gillespie and Kostanski have stated that with this project they set out to make a serious horror picture, so while there are a few quips and some amusing dialogue here and there, this is for all intents and purposes a genuinely dark fairly unsettling picture.

    The performances are pretty strong here too. It’s nice to see Art Hindle, probably best known for Black Christmas, show up in a decent supporting role here, and Ellen Wong from the Silent Night and Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World is well cast as the bratty intern on staff. Daniel Fathers is strong as the understandably concerned father character and Mik Byskov equally solid as his son. The bulk of the dramatics, however, are handled by Aaron Poole, Kathleen Munroe (who was featured in Romero’s Survival Of The Dead) and Kenneth Walsh (who, oddly enough, also appeared in Survival Of The Dead). Poole is really good as the cop in over his head. He rises to the occasion when he has to but there are a few touching moments here between this character and Munroe’s that allow both of them to do more than just the typical horror movie character ‘stuff.’ One scene in particular between the two of them is particularly effective in making you feel for their characters, they both do very fine work here. Walsh is also noteworthy for his part in the film because of the weight and screen presence that he brings to his character.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    The Void arrives on Blu-ray from Screen Media in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 2.35.1 widescreen. The transfer here is rock solid, with nice inky black levels keeping the shadows appropriately dark, but without any crush or compression artifacts of note. As such, detail levels are strong even in the film’s many darker scenes. Colors are beautifully reproduced here too, occasionally really popping, but avoiding the appearance of oversaturation. There doesn’t appear to be any sharpening or edge enhancement here nor does there appear to be any smoothing. As such, skin tones look nice and natural, never waxy, while texture and depth are frequently quite impressive.

    English language options are provided in DTS-HD 5.1 and 2.0 Stereo Master Audio tracks with optional subtitles provided in English only. If you’ve got the hardware to handle it, the 5.1 track is definitely the way to go as there’s a lot of really aggressive and occasionally bombastic surround activity here. A strong low end anchors the picture without burying the dialogue while the score and effects sound nice and clear. The performers are always easy to understand, the dialogue is easily discernable, while the levels stay nicely balanced through. As you’d guess for a brand new feature like this, there are no problems with any hiss or distortion. The 2.0 track is similar in quality, it just doesn’t have the rear channel/surround activity that the 5.1 mix is able to provide.

    Extras start off with an audio commentary from directors Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski. This is a pretty interesting talk that covers a lot of ground, detailing how the locations were found and chosen as well as a lot of the difficulties that arose during the shoot. They go into quite a bit of detail about the effects work, casting the picture and some of the story points, but they also cover their influences here, downplaying claims that Fulci and Carpenter had a sway over them but acknowledging the obvious Lovecraft and Silent Hill influences. Also included on the disc is a second commentary from the effects team, Michael Walsh and Nicola Bendrey, moderated by Kostanksi. This one is a fair bit more technical but still pretty interesting (obviously it helps to have an interest in the ‘how to’ of practical effects work). The majority of the talk covers the creature effects, which makes sense given the importance they have in the film, but they also go into a lot of detail about some of the more common effects seen in the film (mostly the standard gore stuff), as well as more personal stuff like various projects they worked on before The Void, how they got to know each other, how they all got along on set and quite a bit more.

    Up next, check out a twenty-five minute making of featurette entitled Nightmare Logic: The Making Of The Void. This is made up of interviews with Gillespie and Kostanksi (and their dogs) as well as their executive producer and most of the principal cast members. This covers some of the same ground as the commentary tracks do but it’s no less interesting because there’s a lot of great behind the scenes footage here. Not only do we get a chance to check out the school and hospital locations used for most of the principal photography but we get a load of behind the scenes clips showing the effects team hard at work – very interesting stuff. There’s also some neat footage in here from the proof of concept trailer and talk of the crowdsourcing campaign that helped bring this to fruition after they ran into some serious financing difficulties.

    Outside of that, there’s a teaser trailer, a theatrical trailer, menus and chapter selection. Previews for a few other Screen Media properties play before the main menu screen loads.

    The Final Word:

    The Void is pretty intense stuff. While it borders on the surreal at times, particularly towards the end, it never lacks in intensity and hot damn do those practical effects ever impress. Add to that some slick camera work, solid performances from the entire cast and a great score and this is one well worth seeking out. The Blu-ray release from Screen Media is a strong one, it’s got a nice selection of supplements and it presents the feature in fantastic shape with excellent audio.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!





























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