All of Steven Kostanskis films to date have been in the field of genre parody. Manborg and W is for Wish affectionately look back to the video-released films of the 1980s and recreate their chintzy effects and dialogue. The Void is immediately different to these. For one, it is a professionally made film rather than has the feel of a production by earnest amateurs trying to get a break. It employs well known actors such as Kenneth Welsh and Aaron Poole, as well as Art Hindle, the hero from David Cronenbergs The Brood (1979), now cast as an aging deputy. The tone of the film is not parody but sober. Kostanksi is not homaging the 1980s video-released film, although The Void could certainly be seen as a modern reworking of physical creature transformation effects films of the 1980s such as The Thing (1982) and From Beyond (1986).
The Void no relation to several other films with the same title, notably the miniature black hole amok film The Void (2001) starts as a standard horror film. There is nothing unusual for the first twenty minutes only for Gillespie and Kostanski to then throw us into the middle of everything all at once a nurse slicing her face off; hooded figures gathered outside the hospital; several characters abruptly being killed, including Aaron Poole stabbed in the jugular; and the appearance of a wild, briefly glimpsed creature that seems like a first cousin of The Thing.
The film becomes particularly wild and outlandish during the descent into the cellar with all manner of mutated creatures lurking in the shadows; the revelation of Kenneth Welshs experiments; the discovery of Kathleen Munroe with a tentacled creature spread out from her insides to take over the whole surgery; and another creature tearing its way from Stephanie Beldings womb as Kenneth Welsh opens the doorway to another dimension to summon Elder Gods. The physical creature effects in the film are genuinely wild, Kostanski readily reviving a field that has been greatly neglected since the genres usurpation by visual effects in the last decade. The only quibble one would have is that the film seems construed more as a vehicle to have outlandish things happening than it ever has in terms of why these are happening. You reach the end of the film with no explanation of who the hooded cultists that turn up throughout are, for instance.
One soon realises that The Void is Kostanski and Gillespies homage to the works of H.P. Lovecraft. The film soon ticks off all the major themes that recur throughout Lovecraft the mad scientist on an obsessed quest for forbidden knowledge; the cross-breeding with creatures from other worlds; the misshapen experiments kept in the basement; the secret cult; rituals to open doorways to other dimensions and summon Elder Gods. All that seems missing is the ending with the protagonist driven mad by what they have seen.
(Winner for Best Makeup Effects at this sites Best of 2016 Awards).