You’d be surprised at the things you find when you go looking.
The Void is a microbudget horror film that got funded on Indiegogo and then started picking up some surprising buzz after playing a handful of festivals. It is, much like the various entities that inhabit it, an odd creature. The plot is initially super-simple; a police officer finds a bloody young man on the side of the road late one night and he delivers him to the closest hospital, which just happens to be running a skeleton crew because the building is being shut down. When a band of strange hooded figures surround the hospital, the motley crew inside is forced to band together etc etc. The film has a really taut first third. The sequences with the hooded figures are well shot and they’re genuinely scary. A couple of really violent sequences in that first third are beautifully executed and not gratuitous. The lead performer Aaron Poole, as the harried police officer, is given a small amount of backstory and he actually gives a really solid performance; he’s not afraid to make his character incredibly unlikable and it really works with the kind of mean-spirited vibe of the whole movie. Kenneth Walsh is really good as the sole doctor left at the hospital. The other performances are typically okay, though Daniel Fathers (hilariously playing a character credited as The Father) is really quite terrible. After that first third, the film gets increasingly uninteresting though. The film made a lot of having practical effects, but it actually hides them behind flashing lights and smoke and darkness, probably to keep the audience from being able to see how cheap they look, to the degree that they just aren’t really effective and most of the time, you can’t even tell what you’re supposed to be looking at. The film initially turns into a kind of video game where characters creep through dark hallways, turn corners, get attacked by monsters, kill the monsters and then creep through dark hallways, rinse, repeat. A couple of surreal dream-sequence style bits during the last third are just annoying, not clever. If the creatures had been either designed better or at least shown better, this might have been interesting for a while, but as it is, the film commits the one unforgiveable sin of horror: repetition to the point of dull boredom. It’s too bad. I see what the movie’s going for, a kind of nihilistic grimness that one might expect from a horror movie from the seventies merged with the creature designs and practical effects of the eighties, and I was initially really hopeful, given the great main character/performance and that grim, ever tightening first thirty minutes. Oh, yeah . . . that ending. I need to find someone who’s seen the movie to talk to about that ending. The movie wastes a lot of time getting there, but when it finally does, it has no time left to really explore the ramifications. Cut five minutes of dark hallway shotgun firing and keep the movie going for five more minutes after that final shot and you’d go a long way toward redeeming the movie in my eyes. Though, again, I see what they’re going for and there is a tinge (we don’t have time for more than a tinge) of actual horror, not just fear or disgust, to that ending. But call The Void a failed attempt. Too bad; a lot of potential, but it just doesn’t have what it takes in the end. 2 stars.
tl;dr – microbudget horror has admirable ambitions, a brilliantly unsettling first third & a bracing mean-spiritedness, but after the first third, it collapses into nonsense & incoherence. 2 stars.