“The Void” (2016): Valentine to Horror Cinema Proffers Abundant Frights and Gore

The Void is like a mash-up of the greatest hits from tons of horror movies deconstructed and reconstructed into something wholly original, with the WTF factor cranked to 11. The film is a valentine to the genre filled with sincerity and reverence as well as tension, earned scares, and gory practical effects. To say that The Void is the type of film that you need to go into knowing as little as possible is a huge understatement. With that being said, I’ll avoid spoilers as much as possible.

Police officer Daniel Carter (Aaron Poole) is set for a quiet, routine night when a man (Evan Stern) suddenly stumbles out of the woods and onto the road in front of him. Carter takes the man to the nearest hospital, which has recently suffered from a fire and has only a minimal emergency crew on hand. Nurse Allison (Kathleen Munroe) and trainee Kim (Ellen Wong) assist Dr. Richard Powell (Kenneth Welsh) with duties, including caring for young, pregnant Maggie (Grace Munro). Carter is attacked outside the hospital doors by a mysterious hooded figure, and the people inside the building suddenly find a large group of these hooded figures standing outside the hospital. An angry, rifle-toting man (Daniel Fathers) and a younger, silent man (Mik Byskov) enter the hospital with murder on their minds – and they will soon be the least of the problems inside the building.

An ever-growing group of mysterious figures looms outside a doomed hospital in the incredible shocker The Void.

Cowriters and codirectors Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski jam-pack The Void with something for practically every type of horror fan, no matter the subgenre, including body horror, slasher-style kills, grotesque monstrosities, cosmic horror, and more, to leave as many surprises as possible to future viewers. Scares and shocks abound, and each one is earned, as the tension levels run high throughout the film. The Void is an absolute thrill ride with a dizzying sense of mystery on tap. As viewers try to piece together what is happening, a jarring attack here or a discomforting sense of menace there places them back in a very uncomfortable zone. The Void also offers strong potential for rewatchability for several reasons, not the least of which is quick “Did I just see what I think I did?” moments in the background.

Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski’s screenplay has its fair share of homages but they never lapse into winks and nods, and the proceedings are played straight. The direction is outstanding; juggling so many different styles of horror and making them all work together straight through to the final shot is a testament to how well helmed The Void truly is. The imagery is marvelous and the presentation is jaw-dropping. The cast is note-perfect throughout. All of these elements, along with superb cinematography, set design, and score, make for a viewing experience that is a lot of macabre fun.

Police officer Daniel Carter (Aaron Poole) tries to make sense of the horrific happenings inside and around the hospital in which he and a small group of people are trapped.

Among the horrors in the hospital are goopy, gloppy, dripping creatures that will remind seasoned viewers of monsters from lionized films, but these beasts have some new moves to show off. The makeup and special effects departments deliver big time with their monsters and human casualties. Practical effects fans will find much to love here. The Void is not content with merely laying on visceral frights, though; it also boasts existential horror with a strong dose of dread that gets under your skin.

The Void is officially my film to beat for best horror movie of the year. Judge for yourself; the films has its VOD and limited theatrical release on April 7 after its triumphant film festival run.

The Void 4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

Poster for The Void
Poster for The Void

Joseph Perry
Joseph Perry fell in love with horror films as a preschooler when he first saw the Gill-Man swim across the TV screen in "The Creature from The Black Lagoon" and Mothra battle Godzilla in "Godzilla Vs. The Thing.” His education in fright fare continued with TV series such as "The Twilight Zone" and "Outer Limits," along with legendary northern California horror host Bob Wilkins’ "Creature Features." His love for silver age and golden age comic books, including horror titles from Gold Key, Dell, and Marvel started around age 5.

He is a contributing writer for the "Phantom of the Movies VideoScope" and “Drive-In Asylum” print magazines and the websites Horror Fuel, Diabolique Magazine, The Scariest Things, B&S About Movies, and When It Was Cool. He is a co-host of the "Uphill Both Ways" pop culture nostalgia podcast and also writes for its website. Joseph occasionally proudly co-writes articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right.

A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.