Film Review: Creepy, Atmospheric Indie Thriller “Arctic Void”

arctic void movie poster one sheetRay Marsh (Michael Weaver) is a pleasant enough fellow, the host of a popular travel show who has decided that a visit to the farthest northern reaches of the Norwegian Fjords is perfect for his next episode. He’s brought his exhausted producer Alan (Tim Griffin) along and they’ve managed to hire a local Norwegian videographer Sean (Justin Huen) at the last minute when their regular cameraman has his visa rejected. They’re on a small vessel captained by the jovial Jim (Rune Temte), and the other passengers include a couple of Norwegian researchers and a trio of flirty German women.

From the first shot, the scenery is breathtaking, though punctuated by odd sights, including a bird who seems to have had its eyes pecked out and a bloody mother walrus with its calf. The region is also heavily populated by polar bears, and, as the captain warns, there are more bears than humans.

Once they head into the main channel, Captain Jim has a rare delicacy for everyone to try: grilled whale meat. It’s not good, but most everyone gamely tries it. When Alan then feels poorly, Ray helps him belowdecks and without a bump, a scream, or any sound at all, everyone else on the vessel vanishes.

Taciturn local cameraman Sean shows up after a few minutes, explaining he was belowdecks checking his camera equipment, but that’s it. Everyone else has vanished, leaving coats, bags, even cameras behind. The three of them are on a ship in the middle of the Norwegian Sea with no clue how to get back to port. Worse, Alan feels increasingly poorly and they begin to suspect the whale meat. Was the meat somehow responsible for everyone’s disappearance?

arctic void movie film publicity still photo

Sean (Huen), Alan (Griffin), and Ray (Weaver), from “Arctic Void”

While adrift, Ray notices that there’s a small industrial village a short ways off. Rescue! Or, perhaps not, when they get to the town and find that it’s an abandoned Russian mine of some sort. And it was abandoned in a rush; there’s food in the pantry and all the furnishings are intact. None of them have a clue what’s going on, except for… well… that’d be a spoiler. Let’s just say the film’s tag line of “you are the experiment” might be quite relevant to the underlying story.

Arctic Void is a low-budget indie film shot in less than three weeks on location in Norway’s Svalbard archipelago, only 600 miles from the North Pole. As the publicity team shared, “the village is Pyramiden, an abandoned Russian coal mine where only one building had power and shooting exteriors required constant protection from polar bears.”

It is an absolutely gorgeous location and director Darren Mann and cinematographer David Rush Morrison have done wonders, creating a modest film that has the requisit creepiness and claustrophobic feel of the genre. The denoument is a bit flat and the final act could have delivered a more satisfying ending, but the cast turns in entirely acceptable performances and the scenery itself is so stunning that it’s worth watching just to see the Svalbard archipelago and Pyramiden, the latter a fantastic location absolutely perfect for horror films.

Not without its flaws, I nonetheless enjoyed Arctic Void and recommend it as a moody indie horror film.

13 Comments

  1. Onya Shakur

    An absolute nonsensical waste of 86 minutes. This garbage will only make sense to those with a medical marijuana card. Puff puff and pass on this one

  2. Jbarry

    Actually not bad. The location is great.

  3. smorris

    Typical weak payoff for a low budget indie. Really stupid of them to put the word experiment in the tagline, as the true strength of this movie is the mystery of what’s happening. The tagline basically gives it away.

  4. Smith

    My husband and I very much liked the movie. The mystery, the suspense. Acting was quite good, cinematography incredible. Yes, ending was weak but overall a great movie.

  5. Jerry

    I didn’t get the ending. Trying to find an explanation.

  6. George

    I get it! The writer(s) of this movie went on strike before completing the final scene!

  7. Lauriesprslp

    WTF was that?!?!?

  8. MARTIN DOYLE

    Reminiscent of "The Shining" on a tight budget…

  9. Murphy

    Cinematography was exceptional but such a weak story and ridiculous finish
    It wouldn’t have taken much imagination to make this movie
    The writer on this script must have “mailed it in”

  10. Dugtrio

    This movie rocks. Much better than the high budget garbage. Even if the story is vague and weird and the pace is slower than what you’re used to. But I think that is a strength it gets to highlight the making of an actual film with people portraying characters with some depth. Not everything needs to be spelled out or explained. I hope more movies like this continue to be made.

  11. Marian Harris

    Strange film! Grabs you for awhile then falls flat. Picks up again as you are trying to make sense of it. Ending is terribly unsatisfying.
    What a waste of time. Too bad!
    Had potential!

  12. Rick Pascal

    Beautiful scenery but very flimsy storyline with a most disappointing ending. The writers must have been stumped when trying to think of an ending, so they just left it hanging. Could have been good, but then just fell off the cliff.

  13. Tony Stevenson

    Another movie for the bottom shelf… what a waste of time

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dave taylor vertigo film swirl backgroundPlanet Dave is run by Dave Taylor, who has been writing about film, cars, games, and his lifestyle for many years. He's based in Boulder, Colorado and assures readers he's only occasionally falling into a gravity well or temporal distortion field.

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