If John Carpenter’s creatures, Clive Barker’s perversions and the 80’s Satanic panic bent the laws of nature and had an unholy baby, it’d be “The Void.” For horror aficionados and special effects gore hounds, “The Void” is a visual buffet. But for those wanting a little bit more in terms of storytelling, they’ll find “The Void” to be full of empty calories. As someone who can appreciate both, I feel that “The Void” is a scene setter for an idea bigger than what the directors could envision.
Officer Daniel (Poole) is awoken from a casual nap in his police cruiser by an injured man stumbling out of the woods. He rushes the blood-soaked stranger to an area hospital where the night shift is more focused on a different, new hospital they’ll soon be operating in. The old hospital is on the cusp of closing down after a mysterious fire. The barebones staff can’t wait to pack everything up and move.
The key players is Daniel’s emotionally distant wife, Alison (Munroe), whose sought comfort in Dr. Powell’s (Welsh) sage advice and comforting demeanor. There’s also a pregnant teenager, a clumsy CNA, a vengeful father and a decent handful disposable side characters. They hunker down as trouble arrives in the form of cloaked cult members armed with knives. They gather ominously outside the hospital, attacking anyone who dares attempt to leave, but that’s not the worst of their problems. That comes in the form of a monstrous blood-soaked blob made up of various limbs, body parts and tentacles stalking the hospital halls.
The storytelling is suspect. It’s a Frankenstein of nearly all body horror films from the 80’s, like “Hellraiser,” “The Thing,” “Re-Animator,” and “Night of the Demons.” Most other times I’d be frustrated that a movie would so blatantly steal page after page out of different movies scripts, but it’s clear that there’s a level of reverence and homage to these movies. Everything from the special effects to the tropes is out of respect and admiration, not parody or theft.
But the non-existence of originality in “The Void” hurts it a lot. The lack of personal ingenuity on the director’s end makes the movie forgettable. It’s a great throwaway, midnight creature feature, but the story and its characters yearn for to have their own novelty. The relationship between Officer Daniel and Alison should feel more exclusive, rather than a side note on a lengthy journey through religious evil and hell on Earth.
There are moments that hint towards a grander scheme at work as well as a few simple aesthetics to create an exclusive experience for fans of horror. For 90 minutes, it’s a wonderful sensory experience in terror, but there’s nothing narratively juicy enough for me to sink my teeth into and chew on. “The Void” is an ambitious project, deserving of praise for what it does right, but it’s difficult to overlook its failure to satisfy the tastes of those who crave more.