THE VOID (Jeremy Gillespie, Steven Kostanski). 90 minutes. Opens Saturday (April 1). See listing. Rating: NNNN
Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski’s previous features, Manborg and Father’s Day, were elaborate riffs on the genre movies they’d grown up watching.
And while their productions certainly entertained on a superficially nostalgic level – yup, low-budget prosthetics sure were cheesy back in the day! – that veneer kept them from coming fully to life.
Ironic recreations are pretty hard for an audience to invest in or take seriously; they can never exist on their own terms.
In The Void, Gillespie and Kostanski are still operating in their referential comfort zone, but this time they’re playing it straight.
A thriller about a small-town cop (Aaron Poole) who delivers an injured man to a remote hospital only to find himself besieged by inexplicable horrors within and without, it’s a savvy mashup of at least four John Carpenter pictures. But it’s also its own entity: an effective, resourceful nightmare that convinces you the apocalypse is clawing just out of sight, beyond the edge of the screen.
It’s also really well-cast, and Poole, Kathleen Munroe, Art Hindle, Kenneth Welsh and Scott Pilgrim’s Ellen Wong go above and beyond the requirements of this sort of thing.
You think they’re playing types – and they are, sort of – but there’s just a little more going on beneath the surface, which feeds into the movie’s gathering tensions very nicely.
This was a very pleasant surprise.