Ray 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?
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.