“Kostanski and Gillespie are mad geniuses, literal world builders with unlimited imaginations. Already loved as demented pranksters The Void will see them recognized as the visionaries they truly are.” – TODD BROWN (Founder and Editor of TWITCH FILM and Executive Producer of THE RAID)
In 2017’s The Void, Officer Carter must protect patients and staffers inside a hospital from cult-like figures and uncovers a gateway more insidious than hell itself. The film was Directed by Astron-6 founder Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski, who are known for their practical effect design. Unlike Manborg, Father’s Day, The Editor, W is for Wish, The Void was a much darker film than their previous works. The film was originally crowd funded on Indiegogo for only $82,510 and was given a limited release across the US in April (2017). Undeniably, The Void bleeds with 1980’s influence; everything from the plot, the score, but most of all, the practical special effects.
For those uninitiated; practical effects are special effects produced physically, without computer-generated imagery or other post production techniques. If you’re a fan of 1980’s horror, you’d know that what you were seeing on-screen was really there; designs at that time physically interacted with the film’s characters/environment. Practical effects have been applied in cinema since the beginning, but during this era, practical effects were highly utilized in horror films like The Blob (1988), The Fly (1986), The Thing (1982), Return of the Living Dead (1985), Hellraiser (1987). The practical effects in these cult classics set deep impressions into the overall aesthetic of 1980’s horror film making. That being said, The Void does not shy away from their own ‘Lovecraftian’ monsters.
During an interview with Nightmarish Conjurings, directors/writers Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanki discussed their influences…
Steven Kostanski: One that’s really grown on me is the remake of THE BLOB (1988), it is an underrated horror classic, I think. And THE RESURRECTED (aka SHATTERBRAIN 1991) as well, is another good one. Dan O’Bannon directed it and it’s an adaptation of THE CURIOUS CASE OF CHARLES DEXTER WARD, so a Lovecraft story and it has a lot of creature effects in it.
Jeremy Gillespie: I don’t know if that one ever technically got a real release, so it’s not super well-known, but it’s his movie after RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD (1985). Yeah, it’s fantastic, and the creature effects, like some of the stuff in it, it is almost unbelievable with what they did.
As you watch The Void, you can almost tell instantly it takes heavy influences in both Hellraiser and The Thing. The practical monsters are a visual trainwreck in the best possible way; horrific but continually demanding your full attention. You can see that affinity for the 80’s horror aesthetic even more in these sample movie posters from the film’s original Indiegogo campaign:
As computer-generated imagery takes the forefront in modern filmmaking, practical effects continue to contribute heavily in modern horror, with films like Krampus (2015), Altered (2006), Slither (2006), Jeepers Creepers (2001), and of course The Void (2017). As long as respect is kept for the art and independent crowd-funded content is in constant demand, this art form will not be easily forgotten. Though The Void has been criticized with its over-saturation of monsters and a modest budget, any horror fanatic can appreciate where its roots lie.
The Void is currently available on Netflix.