I love going into movies knowing as little as possible, which was certainly the case for Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski’s The Void, which screened on the opening night of this year’s Fantastic Fest. The duo have collaborated on some intriguing indie horror movies as of late, including Manborg and Father’s Day, and without ruining too many of the surprises that the duo keep throwing at viewers the further along they take you on their latest wildly unexpected story, what I can say is that The Void is easily one of the more ambitious indie horror movies I’ve seen as of late. It feels like a movie you’d find on the video store shelves of yesteryear alongside films like Phantasm, Prince of Darkness, Hellraiser I and II, or even In the Mouth of Madness.
And if you also happen to relish mind-blowing special effects on a level we haven’t seen in quite some time (especially at this budget level), then The Void is absolutely going to be your kind of monsterfied jam, horror fans.
The Void begins with an enigmatic guy (Evan Stern), who just nearly escaped with his life after being hunted down by two equally mysterious men (Daniel Fathers, Mik Byskov) before being rescued by a local sheriff (Aaron Poole) and brought into the local hospital to receive medical treatment. But when he arrives, the proverbial shit hits the fan—patients get attacked, nurses go nuts, and “something” (and I say “something” for a reason, as there is an ambiguity to many of the creatures, but it works to the film’s favor) is now roaming the halls of the hospital, looking for victims.
This all leads to the real fun of The Void, and as I mentioned before, the less you know going into this, the better experience you’ll have. But if you do need to know one thing about The Void, it’s that if you think you have things figured out with the story, think again, because the journey Gillespie and Kostanski take viewers on feels reminiscent of a lot of great horror movies we all grew up loving, and yet, it feels oddly like nothing else I’ve ever seen before.
It’s hard to put a point on The Void precisely—which is a good thing in my eyes—but overall, what I did come to realize is that I was consistently blown away by just how much this filmmaking duo tried to achieve in both the scope and the story. If I were forced to nitpick—and really, that’s all this is—the only thing I would change about The Void is that there is about 15 minutes in the film’s second act in which it feels like the story and the characters are spinning their wheels. But really, that’s just me playing devil’s advocate as a viewer and thinking of those who prefer their movies with more of a concise nature to them (I’m personally a big fan of films who have a bit of a “pondering approach” to their storytelling, so I was perfectly pleased).
As mentioned, The Void works incredibly well for numerous reasons, but the special effects in the film are by far the project’s biggest asset, and Kostanski’s work in the special effects world demonstrates his keen ability to make the most out of very little (meaning: budget). Some of the creatures were absolutely astounding to watch (almost on the level of Rob Bottin’s work on The Thing or Bob Keen’s efforts on Hellraiser), and I especially enjoyed the design and detail that was put into the look of The Void’s main villain as well (he’d make for a brilliant action figure).
Both Gillespie and Kostanski have proven before that filmmakers don’t necessarily need a huge budget to achieve great things visually, but The Void is by far the most ambitious effort we’ve seen from them yet, and I do hope they continue to push themselves as directors in the future, because I would absolutely love to see more films like this one from the duo.
Movie Score: 4/5