Directed by Jeremy Gillespie, Steven Kostanski. Starring Aaron Poole, Kenneth Welsh, Daniel Fathers. (2017, NR, 90 min.)
REVIEWED By Dan Gentile, Fri., April 14, 2017
If there’s one thing The Void isn’t short on, it’s blood. Nearly every scene drips with viscous gore, but amongst the 80 gallons of fake blood oozed during the film, one particular shot stands out.
The setting of the scene is a subterranean basement of a rural hospital that’s both haunted by monstrous undead patients and under siege by robed cultists. In the midst of a frenetic slasher scene, a head explodes into a rush of blood and entrails that looks like one of those wacky inflatable tube dancers hovering above used-car dealerships. The moment hits a half-dozen horror pleasure centers all at once, and it’s just one of many such nightmare scenes splattered with maximalist practical effects and a grab bag of horror tropes.
For fans of full-throttle gore, The Void delivers, but for better or worse, it doesn’t really stop along the way to explain itself. The plot begins with Sheriff Daniel Carter (Poole) discovering a mysterious, bloodied-up man on a country road. Their arrival at a hospital triggers a gauntlet of violence that has something to do with a surgeon (none other than Windom Earle himself, Kenneth Welsh) playing God, Carter’s dead child, and a triangular hole to another dimension. Students of horror might enjoy tracing the referential origins of each plot element, but the story never progresses into anything particularly novel.
Thankfully the lo-fi blood fountains spew so relentlessly that there’s not enough time to worry about connecting the plot points, as another person is already getting stabbed in the neck with a scalpel, pulling off pieces of their own face, or hallucinating Tree of Life-esque spacescapes. It’s a visceral film whose volume is permanently stuck at 11 – those that prefer their horror piercingly loud will find much to love, but milder ears may want to bring plugs.
A version of this review ran online as part of the Chronicle’s Fantastic Fest 2016 coverage.