Ah, I forgot one! Late last Saturday: The Void (Kostanski/Gillespie, 2016)
A remote, soon-to-be-closed hospital and its tiny smattering of remaining doctors, nurses, patients and visitors - including a local deputy sheriff - find themselves under seige by a horde of strange, hooded, machete-wielding cult members. Meanwhile, the folk inside the hospital begin experiencing other-wordly visions. A nurse peels her own face off with a scalpel; corpses in the hospital re-animate, mutated into hellish abominations; and a gaping rent in the space/time continuum opens up down in the morgue. Turns out one of the doctors, bereaved of his daughter, has been dallying with pan-dimensional forces in order to acquire the power to revive her. It’s not exactly gone without a hitch, and the doc’s gone stark staring mad in the process. What to do? Let’s do the monster mash! It was a graveyard smash!
While it’s pleasing to see such an unbridled adoration of John Carpenter on display in a movie with such a Lovecraft-inspired premise, I can’t help but feel disappointed with the muddled result. The Void feels less like a cohesive, rounded movie and more like a show-reel for the directors’ undoubted talents with practical horror effects. It’s an unabashed attempt to marry The Thing to Assault on Precinct 13 with a drop of In the Mouth of Madness and a fat dollop of Prince of Darkness thrown in, whilst featuring guest appearances by Frank from Hellraiser and Dr. Channard from Hellbound: Hellraiser II. I mean, on paper that sounds fanf*ckingtastic and I truly applaud the efforts of writer/directors Steven Kostanski and Jeremy Gillespie but I just think they gave themselves too much to achieve with too little time and WAY too little money. The admittedly terrific practical effects gave the movie a wonderfully eighties feel but even then, I’ve seen deliberate nostalgia done better elsewhere. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a movie wearing its influences on its sleeve but if all your movie is doing is reminding the audience how much better those older movies were in achieving the same aims, well, you’re maybe doing something wrong.
I haven’t seen much else by these guys besides a segment in The ABCs of Death 2. Their segment was called W is for Wish and I said of it at the time:
Oddball and overambitious entry in which two lads get to experience just how horrifying their toys’ fantasy world can be. From Steven Kostanski, primarily a make-up effects artist (notably on TV show Hannibal), and it shows. I found it rather dull, I’m afraid.
That’s how I felt with The Void, too. They need to stop throwing the kitchen sink at everything. Pick their moments, pare them down, ration them out.
It sounds like I’m really caning them but in truth there is good reason here to keep an eye on what these filmmakers do next. Reading up on them, I see they’ve made a couple of comedy-tinged horror/sci-film flicks under their “Astron-6” collective banner name which may well suit their overcrowded aesthetic better (Father’s Day, which I’ve heard of, and Manborg, which I haven’t).
I’ll say this though: There was a creature in The Void doing some sort of bent-over-backwards crab walk like Bray Wyatt in WWE which looked fantastic, standing out even amongst all of those impressive effects. Also the pan-dimensional other world they kept going to was very effective and creepy and really caught the Lovecraftian tone excellently, particularly in the final scene.