Anyone who remembers Mik Byskov back when he lived in Vernon would say he was a friendly, outgoing kid. So it may be a shock for some when they see him in the new indie horror, The Void.
Byskov stars as a blood-soaked and mute young man seeking vengeance, who encounters horror in a rural hospital.
The film has already won a bunch of awards at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival and recently secured a U.S. theatrical release with Screen Media.
It’s making its western Canadian premiere at the Whistler Film Festival Saturday, Dec. 3.
“I’ll be seeing it for the first time in Whistler,” said Byskov, via-email to The Morning Star on Wednesday.
“The film’s been getting great reviews among horror fans.”
That includes his parents, Diana and Morten, who are currently travelling overseas and have already seen the film when they attended the BFI Film Festival in London, England.
A former French immersion student at École Beairsto and W.L. Seaton Secondary, who once worked at the Towne Cinema and as a mural guide in downtown Vernon, Byskov has pursued acting since graduating high school in 2008 and studying theatre in Victoria.
Shot in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. a year ago, Byskov received his part in The Void after he sent in a taped audition to the filmmakers.
“I filmed this tape on a Tuesday in mid-November of last year with my roommate. On Friday, I got the call that I’d be flying out Monday to go work in Ontario for a month – boom!, just like that. It was a surprising early Christmas present for sure,” he said.
Securing his first feature film role, Byskov says shooting over a long period of time provided him with the perfect environment to come to work, focus on the action of his scenes, and not have to worry about memorizing lines the next day.
In the film, Byskov plays Simon, a young man travelling with his father, hunting down the people who attacked his family.
When Simon’s family is attacked, a day or so before the movie starts, his throat is slashed in a way that leaves him unable to speak.
He ends up in a nearby rural hospital staffed by a skeleton crew, only to discover that patients and personnel are transforming into something inhuman.
As the horror intensifies, he joins other survivors on a hellish voyage into the subterranean depths of the hospital in a desperate bid to end the nightmare before it’s too late
“We got to delve into some truly horrific stuff,” said Byskov. “As an actor it was a really interesting proposition. My character is very present throughout the film, but has no dialogue. It was a really fun challenge to try to convey that presence in the scenes with body language and my eyes, without going over the top.”
And even though he is gentle by nature, Byskov says he also enjoyed working on the film’s gory effects.
“It was an absolute blast. (Directors Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski) were committed to making the movie with exclusively practical effects, no CGI. This made reacting in terror very easy as there was no imagination required,” he said. “It was a month of running around swinging axes at amazingly constructed, supernatural beasts, shooting shotguns, lighting flares, getting soaked in fake blood and loving every second.”
Byskov is also now able to put stunt experience on his resumé.
“After filming, I was telling all my friends it was 12-year-old me’s dream come true, but then I realized ‘who am I kidding?!’ It’s 26-year-old me’s dream too.”
Byskov is the only participant in the movie who is based in western Canada and is the film’s representative at the Whistler Film Festival.
“The festival organizers have been fantastic and are transporting me up there, giving me a hotel room and festival passes for my girlfriend and I. I’ll be doing the intro for the film and a Q&A after, which should be fun,” he said. “I’m just hoping my girlfriend loves it. We’d been on two dates when I suddenly got the call that I’d be leaving town for a month. She loves horror movies, so I think the booking may have earned me brownie points early on. Now she’ll finally get to see what I had to leave for.”
For more information on the film, visit thevoidmovie.com.