If you’re a fan of John Carpenter or Clive Barker, there’s a good probability you’re going to dig The Void, a fun little low-budget affair that serves as a throwback horror film very reminiscent of John Carpenter’s early work, especially in the film’s first half.
The story concerns a deputy sheriff who discovers a man stumbling out of the woods, bloodied and terrified. The nearest hospital is on the verge of closing, (much like the police station in Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13) but it’s the young man’s best chance for survival. From there, the deputy, the injured man and the sparse hospital staff soon find themselves trapped inside, the building surrounded by strange, cloaked figures who will kill anyone that tries to escape. They also appear to have control over a mysterious, otherworldly power that causes spontaneous, homicidal madness among the survivors inside.
As I mentioned, the first half is a massive tribute to John Carpenter, with clear references to Assault on Precinct 13 and The Thing, not to mention the hospital itself, which bears more than a passing resemblance to the hospital in Halloween II. And the opening scene, which sets off the mystery man’s escape through the woods, is delightfully nasty. The titles and music are also clear nods to JC.
The second half of the film takes on more of a Clive Barker, Hellraiser-era vibe, and while these scenes, including the reveal of the “fully realized” villain, work well, the tribute fell a little flat for me and came off as more of a retread of something we’ve seen before – and much better – in Hellraiser. The same is true with the references to The Thing – while fun at first, the director pushes this aspect of the film a bit too far. Instead of harmless tribute, the gimmick wears thin by going too far and begins to take on the taint of rip-off rather than homage, even bleeding in to the awful Alien: Resurrection ending with the reveal of one of The Void’s primary hellish creatures. But the success of the first half of the film makes up for the ‘Thing’ overkill, and ultimately provides enough momentum to carry that enjoyment through to the end credits.
And was that a note of Don Coscarelli’s Phantasm I detected in the mix? Yes, it was – and it added to the overall fun of the film, particularly the conclusion.
The Void is a “bloody” good time.
See this one, Deadies!
The Void is currently streaming on Netflix, and is available on DVD and Blu-ray.