SIGNATURE ENTERTAINMENT (2017)

 

Directors:  Steven Kostanski / Jeremy Gillespie

 

Starring: Aaron Poole, Kenneth Walsh, Daniel Fathers, Kathleen Munroe, Ellen Wong, Grace Munro, James Millington

A throwback to the days of 80’s horror – reminiscent of The Thing, Hellraiser, Night of the Living Dead and, more recently, The MistThe Void has one thing already under its belt, the afore-mentioned movies are a lot better.

 

What started as a mystery thriller morphed into a bizarre, inter-dimensional monster romp which utterly derailed the entirely decent movie that had preceded the turn, which is a shame as the movie was beginning to show signs of real promise.

The opening scene is a great intro to the movie – an unnamed man (later revealed to be James (Evan Stern)) and a woman flee from a farmhouse at night, except the unfortunate lady cops a bullet in the back and her prone figure promptly set on fire by two men. OK, this seems interesting. On a quiet night shift, Police Deputy James Carter (Poole) sees James laying on the roadside and takes him to the local hospital – one that is dilapidated and mainly abandoned due to a fire. At this particular hospital is Daniel’s estranged wife, Alison (Munroe), who works as a nurse and also veteran doctor Richard Powell (Welsh). Also along for the night are a skeleton nursing team, heavily pregnant Maggie (Munro) and her grandfather Ben (Millington).

 

Things take a nasty turn when one of the nurses decides to remove her face and stab a patient through both eyes. As you do. Outside of the ‘safety’ of the hospital, a gang of mysterious white-robed figures (with a black triangle adorning their covered faces) have surrounded the hospital, but aren’t trying to get in. Two men do get in, however – Vincent (Fathers) and Simon (Mik Byskov) – and they want James dead. Not willing to be outdone, the corpse of the nurse has transformed into a bulbous, tentacle monster who has decided she is hungry for Dr. Powell and the gang. It is here when things become chaotic.

 

The Void is a good example of keeping a movie practical, all of the nasties throughout have been created by actual people and some rubber as opposed to relying on CGI-wizardry which more often than not looks terrible with low-budget movies. The tentacle monsters were largely obscured by clever lighting and strobe effects though, to hide any deficiencies rather than create an atmosphere. Many of the effects were cleverly shot to maintain the realism and in some cases weren’t explicitly shown (i.e. the faceless fiends).

 

I enjoyed the initial mystery the movie had – who were these robed cult figures that appeared? Why weren’t they advancing on the hospital? What was going on in the hospital that was driving people crazy? Why did Vincent and Simon want James so badly? What had happened in that farmhouse? – Lots of questions that needed answering and many that lacked any real explanation. The cult was sort of explained in a lengthy monologue spoken by a monster man with a cheesy voice. The reason for the inhabitants of the hospital going crazy is, again, sort of explained and the reason is wholly unsatisfying. The movie is full of a lot of set-ups but no payoffs. The cult figures did look cool though.

 

The cast all did fine with what they were given, no one was spectacular enough to elevate the story to a more acceptable level, but all were dependable enough for the tone. Kenneth Welsh has more ham than a pig’s groin. My God.

 

Once the movie went from a mystery to full on monstergasm, the movie fell apart entirely. As mentioned before, the set-ups weren’t given a payoff and if they were lucky enough to receive one, they were either confusing or just awful. The first half of the movie had some suspense and intrigue as the old hospital provided a creepy, yet believable setting, full of unused rooms and darkly lit corridors. As the second half came, the protagonists discover that below the hospital there is an apparent labyrinth and a never-before-noticed basement as well. Sigh. From here on, any tension dissipated in a mess of lurching monster goons and a big bad that looked like a White Walker with a tan and a ridiculous voice. Imagine if The Strangers lurched into Feast, just a shitter version.

 

How is Dr. Powell able to physically alter himself in his search for immortality with no effect, but his test subjects become weird tentacle monsters?

 

The music simply exists to shout at the viewer that something SCARY is about to happen! Sod off.

 

Eventually, the movie loses touch with itself and just becomes laughable, falling beyond B-movie territory. The originally snappy runtime becomes a slog as the laborious exposition kicks in for a conclusion that is unsurprisingly hollow.

 

I love 80’s horror movies, possibly the heyday of the genre, however, this is just bad. It could’ve been so much better but alas, we are left with this – slightly decent, mostly dross.

 

A-void.

August 6th 2017

© 2016 Matt Hudson / What I Watched Tonight / Essex

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