Cop: “What, so you worship the Devil, then?”
Man covered in blood, laughing: “I don’t believe in the Devil. But I believe in this.”
-from The Void
The Void is a 2016 Canadian horror film written and directed by Steven Kostanski and Jeremy Gillespie, and produced by Jonathan Bronfman and Casey Walker. It stars Aaron Poole as deputy Daniel Carter, Kenneth Welsh as Dr. Powell, Daniel Fathers as Vincent, Kathleen Munroe as Allison, and Ellen Wong as Kim. The plot follows a group of people who have been trapped in a hospital by a gathering of hooded cultists. The group soon discovers that the hospital has been inhabited by grotesque creatures. [More here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Void_(2016_film)]
I don’t know about you, but THIS is the stuff of which my nightmares are made. But, let’s clarify one thing up front that the “UK Teaser Trailer” below gets wrong:
A Note on Homages
THE VOID IS NOT an homage to John Carpenter. First of all, Carpenter’s 1982 film, The Thing, is based on John W. Campbell’s 1938 novelette Who Goes There?* All three of the “Thing” films, in fact (1951, 1982, 2011**) owe a debt to Campbell’s story.
Carpenter’s film is an homage to Howard Phillips Lovecraft.*** I can’t say for sure whether Campbell had Lovecraft in mind when he wrote Who Goes There?—but it’s possible, since the story was published a year after Lovecraft’s death.
Above, left to right: Alternative film poster for John Carpenter’s The Thing (Pinterest); illustration by “ArtistMEF” for Lovecraft’s story “The Colour Out of Space” (deviantart.com); a poster concept based on Lovecraft’s story “The Colour Out of Space” (Pinterest)
**The novelette inspired the 1951 film The Thing from Another World, which historically, is pretty nifty, but it’s not Carpenter’s 1982 masterpiece:
THE VOID IS an homage to H. P. Lovecraft.
Let’s Talk About Cosmicism…
Cosmicism is the literary philosophy created and used by American author H. P. Lovecraft in his “weird fiction.” Among the elements missing from Carpenter’s The Thing, and the other fiction and films that led up to it, is the idea of cosmicism–as Lovecraft defined and used it. Lovecraft wrote philosophically intense stories of “cosmic horror” that involve occult phenomena, such as astral possession and alien miscegenation–and the themes of his fiction over time contributed to the development of this invented philosophy. (Wiki)
According to this philosophy, there is no recognizable divine presence in the cosmos that loves and dotes over humankind; but there are extraterrestrial entities “out there”, who once ruled on earth–such as “Elder Things” and “Old Ones”. To these beings, humans are insignificant in the larger scheme of intergalactic existence. Humans in Lovecraft’s universe, are nada–just a miniscule species projecting our own “mental idolatries” onto a vast cosmos, which, frankly, doesn’t give a goddam.
“The human race will disappear. Other races will appear and disappear in turn. The sky will become icy and “void” (quotes/bold, mine), pierced by the feeble light of half-dead stars. Which will also disappear. Everything will disappear. And what human beings do is just as free of sense as the free motion of elementary particles. Good, evil, morality, feelings? Pure ‘Victorian fictions’. Only egotism exists.”
– H. P. Lovecraft
In Lovecraft’s stories, whatever meaning or purpose may be invested in the actions of the cosmic “god-like” beings is completely inaccessible to the human characters. For example, in his “mythos stories”, it is not the absence of meaning that causes terror for the protagonists; it’s the realization that they have no power to understand, let alone change, anything in the vast, indifferent universe that surrounds them. Humans continue to strive for knowledge, and most often end up blindly worshipping that which they do not understand…
Images above, from left to right: 1) H. P. Lovecraft surrounded by antiquated tomes & tentacles is the Granddaddy of cosmic-cult-related horror; 2) Nyrlathotep, a hooded, tentacled god (aka. the “Black Man” & the “King in Yellow”) created by Lovecraft, appears in Lovecraft’s story “The Dreams in the Witch House” (& in Robert W. Chamber’s Lovecraft-mythos-like story “The King in Yellow”); 3) From Lovecraft’s story “The Dunwich Horror: Wilbur Whately in the foreground, part human, part “elder thing”, is shown holding the “dread Necronomicon” (an ancient grimoire created by Lovecraft to serve his “mythos”)—looming in the background, & a lot less human, is Wilbur’s larger twin brother (the Dunwhich “horror”) that the family kept hidden in the attic; 4) a Mi-Go—an insectoid, crab-like space-traveling creature created by Lovecraft & featured in his story “The Whisperer in Darkness”—harvests a human brain, which it will seal in a canister for the flight “home” to its planet—Don’t worry, it promises, you’ll still be “alive”. (Images: Pinterest, Wikidom, deviantart.com; artists were not credited)
And Now…Back to The Void
The Void, is a “Lovecraftian” film in many ways, with its homage to cult worship, sigil-like symbols, cosmic indifference to lowly humankind, and xenomorph-fanaticism (I made that word up). Nobody worshipped the damn aliens in Carpenter, or in Campbell. Lovecraft is the Great Grandfather, here, folks, and he should get his due.
The trailer, a review clip, and posters (you know I love posters!) follow.
Watch this film. But leave the light on.
I didn’t share it all, because I disagree with a lot of it. Many reviews, today, are uneducated and ill-informed; and feel “rushed through”…making use of silly, irrelevant buzzwords, like “gore fest”—which The Void is not. Oh, there’s gore. But The Void is much smarter than that.
But, I do like what Empire said here…
“The Void isn’t a horror that wears its influences on its sleeve. It’s a horror that proudly carves them into its claret-clogged chest. The blunter the scalpel, the better. Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski clearly know their way around a horror film collection, with repeated nods to the likes of Lucio Fulci, George A. Romero, Clive Barker and, particularly, John Carpenter, whose Prince Of Darkness is the most obvious template here. In less skilful hands, this litany of references would wear thin pretty damn quickly, but the duo — who got their breaks as an art editor and make-up artist respectively — prove themselves adept at conjuring a bleak, paranoid, foreboding atmosphere from the off. This gives the film a suitably sturdy basis on which to build — it’s quickly clear that this is no I Love The ’80s goof-off.” (Empire Magazine)
I couldn’t decide which poster was coolest, so I’m sharing them all; click to enlarge (Pinterest).