Isolationist horror with Lovecraftian overtones and readily apparent influences of both Clive Barker and John Carpenter; coupled with the school of less is more when showing the monster, combine in The Void. Toronto After Dark’s closing night film for 2016 at the Scotiabank Theatre.
Let me get two things out of the way, as much as I love the directors’ work with Astron 6, including the cheesy crowd-pleaser, Manborg or Bio-Cop, this film is leaps and bounds beyond that, and two, I was delighted to see our friend Aaron Poole as the film’s lead!
From the film’s opening frames, this film looks better than any that had come before it, from either director, and their story is simple and effective. A group of people, led by the local sheriff, Daniel Carter (Poole), are forced to hole up in a rural hospital. They are trapped their by some very troubling cult members who encircle the building, keeping them there.
Inside the building, there is some serious trouble afoot, as some Thing, seems to have gotten free, and may only be the beginning of the terror that stalks them over the course of the night.
Keeping the creature(s) hidden, and not showing everything is an old school trick, and allows the imagination to fill in the monsters, and their kills. The glimpses we do get of them recall images from The Thing, Hellraiser, Fulci’s Zombie, and that is high praise indeed. There is some fantastic creature effects at work here.
I also like that not everything is revealed or understood by the film’s end, and that works to its benefit, I felt the final scene was tagged on and didn’t necessarily need to be there, unless they’re building towards a sequel, but everything else played incredibly well. I love that if you have a knowledge of classic horror literature and films that you can really get a lot out of, and read a lot into this film.
The cast is solid all around, and includes Canadian legend Art Hindle, as well Kathleen Munroe, Trish Rainone, Kenneth Welsh and Daniel Fathers. Each is given their moment in the spotlight, and they ground their performances allowing you to follow them on this ride.
I was wonderfully stunned with how much I enjoyed this movie. I thought it would be passingly enjoyable, but I found myself sinking solidly into this one, and wondering about the mythology in the world they created, and completely delighted that they didn’t spell everything out for the audience, leaving them with questions.
This was a great film to end this year’s festival on, and was also a lot of fun – I was seated next to two big alpha male types who jumped, and gasped throughout the film, and I was as entertained by that as I was the film itself.
What a great festival. I hope to see you all next year, After Dark!