Although there’s no shortage of modern day horror films and the genre is fairly healthy I am sure many of us who lived through the golden era (the 80’s for me) find themselves a bit jaded with all the remakes and lack of inventiveness and new ideas. Occasionally though something does seep through the void, tickle you with its tentacles and proceeds to wrap its slimy limbs around your neck, detach your head and suck out your brains. Normally such rarities come from places like Europe or deepest darkest South America and prove a one off and this Canadian production is no exception to that rule. I had noted a buzz about The Void from people who had seen it at festivals such as Abattoir in Wales and the trailer certainly packed a punch making me all the more keen to see it prior to its (no doubt limited) theatrical release on March 31st. From the second I sat down for the duration of the 90 minute running time to say I was on the edge of my seat and invaded by “the fear” not felt in a fairly long time would not be an understatement and The Void came very close to tipping me over the edge of the precipice and tumbling into the abyss of dread deep below.

Directed by Jamie Gillespie and Steven Kostanski (and what is it about dual directorship in recent years) I knew this was unlikely to pull any punches. They both had previously been up to their nuts in guts with Troma released sicko Father’s Day, a film that really sodomised the senses in more ways than one, as well as having a huge amount of credits with involvement in make-up and art department on lots of genre features and series such as the more than grizzly Hannibal. From the very second The Void opens with two people running out of a shack in the woods with one blasted in the back and set on fire by some unknown assailants I was well aware that this was going to be a fast and furious rollercoaster ride not seen since the likes of the original Martyrs, or perhaps the more recent Baskin.

In essence the story here is a tried, tested and familiar one but the underlying sinister themes are anything but, plumbing into a netherworld strangeness taking one right back to the mythos of H.P.Lovecraft. The escaping fugitive falls into the path of cop Daniel Carter (Aaron Poole) who takes him to a nearby hospital which is only just functioning with bare bones staff following a recent fire. From here things become a standard siege mentality film, one where patients watch Night Of The Living Dead on TV waiting to recover but unfortunately end up with the tried and tested hospital horror scalpel in the eye (Halloween 2, Dead And Buried) when things go off the deep end. The staff are out their depth, patients are dying killed by a nurse with a fetish for skinning herself and things of monstrous proportions are mutating in the corner. There’s no chance of escape as sinister cult like figures dressed in white cloaks and Klanish hats are outside with sharp knives preventing anyone from leaving. Add to this the two lunatics from the start of the film turn up and get in with one aim, to finish the job they started and kill the one that got away. You will be questioning this one the whole way through especially when the normal narrative is disrupted by surreal and nightmarish images that make little or no sense. Who the hell are these people outside, why are slimy monsters bursting out just when you get a slight pause of breath and why does the nice doctor start acting strangely?

The Void is the sort of film anyone who loves 80’s horror will embrace. It tips its hat in an unapologetic fashion to several luminaries of note such as John Carpenter, Clive Barker, Stuart Gordon and David Cronenberg (speaking of the latter it’s great to see Art Hindle from The Brood among the cast list). It also has the look and feel of the era, there are none of those new-fangled mobile phones to rely on when communication with the outside world goes kaput for a start. The slimy creatures look excellent, absolutely disgusting in fact and the effects here are handled brilliantly the old school way, the overall look of the film is great too and it’s not one of those modern day looking flicks that’s edited so quickly you cannot revel in the gore. You get plenty of opportunity here to soak yourself in claret. Also of particular note is the creepy and brooding score and music. Blitz//Berlin a trio from Toronto are part responsible but as the beginning credits of the film rolled I also noted that dark ambient composer Lustmord also had participated and with his seal of approval you just know that this is going to be an intelligent horror film. There’s nothing I can really fault about this film right down to the closing shot which reminded somewhat of another firm favourite classic. Hopefully you will make it to the end to see it (unlike one person at the screening I attended dashing out in the final 5 minutes). Enter The Void, your existence may never be the same again!

Screaming tickets for UK cinema can be bought at the link below and the film is available to buy on DVD and Blu-Ray on April 24th

(Pete Woods)