NEW TO THEATERS! An American film crew gets in over their heads in Darren Mann’s sci-fi, chiller-thriller, Arctic Void. Ray (Michael Weaver) and Alan (Tim Griffin) are documentary filmmakers taking on the natural beauty of the Arctic. Along with their guide Sean (Justin Huen), the trio board a Norwegian tourist ship to the northern-most outpost. As they enjoy the scenery, a cry from a nearby walrus rings out as we witness a mother walrus violently murdering its child. Later, a similar occurrence happens with a flock of birds. Everyone on the ship believes there’s something supernatural happening.
The following day, Ray, Alan, and Sean wake up, and the ship is entirely void of people. Everyone is missing, and not a body to be found… dead or alive. With the boat dead in the water and drifting aimlessly, the trio spots an abandoned output across the sea. So they venture out to find any help. Complicating the situation, Alan is sick, and it’s possibly related to the strange occurrence the night before. Our band of brothers now must brave the elements, find a safe shelter, solve the mysterious disappearances, not go crazy, and lastly, get home.
As a fan of independent film, Arctic Void is a good-looking low-budget movie. Though, as a fan of filmmaking, it’s hard not to notice all the low-budget thriller tricks going on. Think of this as a feature-length episode of The Twilight Zone — the mystery comes in second to the story being told.
“…the ship is entirely void of people. Everyone is missing, and not a body to be found…”
The narrative is about these three men trying to survive an almost impossible situation. Michael has a clear plan on how to get out of the mess. But, unfortunately, he’s making it up along the way. Alan is injured and 100% certain that they’re all going to die, starting with him. Sean is the quiet one, but living and working in this region for years, he knows everything about the ship and the facility.
Not to break the illusion, but except for the quick first act, the production is essentially three guys on an empty boat and empty base, and I’m also guessing a tiny crew. It’s pretty no-frills, and any production value comes from what’s already on site. With so little to work with, director Darren Mann creates suspense-filled “is someone watching us?” moments and thrills.
The fun of Arctic Void comes in the first two acts. In the first one, we have the set-up for the strange happenings. The animal attack CG animations are exceptional and pretty gruesome. The actors playing the tourists are OK, but big props to Rune Tempte, who plays the ship’s captain. He’s a knowledgeable man about the region, super-creepy in his mannerisms, and really hates pretentious Americans. The second act is all about the relationship between Ray, Alan, and Sean and how they need to figure out what’s happening, and the need to survive starts to strain their friendship and cohesiveness as a team.
The weakness is that third act — the revelations of the mystery. I want to chalk it up to bad writing, but I suspect it’s about the lack of money, like a million or two. Again, I don’t want to reveal anything, but it felt like the funds dried up, and the filmmakers found the best ending possible… though it’s not 100% satisfying. That said, I find it forgivable, and it makes me wonder just how good this would have been with a much bigger budget. Nevertheless, the journey makes Arctic Void a fun watch.
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"…director Darren Mann creates suspense..."