Monday, May 11, 2009

Mythos Monday - Cthulhu the Movie (2007) Review

Here is the plot summary. It's pretty basic. After the final sentence you can add "shit goes steadily downhill for Russ from there".

1. Based upon the above, would you say that Cthulhu - Welcome Home to the End of the World is a ____________ movie.

A. Lovecraftian
B. Scary
C. Gay
D. Worthwhile

The answer is actually E. All of the above, as you probably guessed I would write. I will caveat that "All of the above" with "to varying degrees"...

How Lovecraftian? On a scale of 1 to 10, I give it the letter "Q". Because to me it really makes no sense to try and quantify just how much it is, because it is and is not at the same time. The trailer states that it is based upon the "Classic Tale" by H. P. Lovecraft although it really draws on two. The first and most obvious is The Shadow Over Innsmouth - from which the Marsh name, Esoteric Order of Dagon, some characters and the concept of going to "live in the sea" as servants of Cthulhu are drawn/adapted. The second is The Festival - from which the seasonal festival (Yuletide in the original story, "The May Festival" in the movie) and the main character's resistance to having a family legacy forced upon him as he uncovers its horrors. While things aren't revealed to the protagonist exactly the same way as in TSOI, it works in the context of the movie. The film takes many of the issues society deals with today - environment, climate change, resource overuse and infrastructure decay - and uses them as a backdrop of activity that alludes to the coming the Great Old Ones. While the film does not go deep into it or smoothly integrate it into the plot, it's not altogether a failure. I will say that you don't go through the whole movie feeling like your watching an H. P. Lovecraft story brought to life, it does have its moments.

How scary? A little. Not hugely. The movie does a decent job of moving the mystery along and revealing parts as Russ discovers them, but doesn't really reach any crescendo of horror that makes you jump out of your seat or anything. The ending is somewhere between okay and pretty good.

How Gay? There is a strong gay agenda viewed through an H. P. Lovecraft-inspired lens. How religions alternate between ostracizing and trying to "cure" homosexuals, homosexuality as not being in line with patriotism or community/family values, and outright homophobia. There are plenty more. Face it. Innsmouth, being isolated, under the thumb of a cult (religion), with a small homogeneous population that is wary of strangers or anything "different" is a fertile backdrop against which to express these issues. This should not be a surprise as the movie is a here! TV production. (It DID surprise me a little bit - simply because my brain didn't make the connection between the logo on the DVD case and the channel.)

How Worthwhile? It's worth watching. There are some parts that didn't work well for me - in particular Tori Spelling's part; I think the movie could have been just as good without her or her part in it. But then again I'll say that for most movie or TV productions that include her. It doesn't always flow smoothly, horror isn't really at the forefront, works. While it's not even close to "in step" with the original stories, I think the attempt to draw on these stories written three quarters of a century ago to frame a social issue of today is admirable. The movie is definitely worth seeing.


Randal Graves said...

What an strange flick. If it involves HPL, even tangentially, I'll have to check it out.

Chef Cthulhu said... was a bit strange...I'm still mulling it over in my head and I'll probably watch it again soon. The wife says she wants to see it, too.

Beach Bum said...

Tori Spelling? That about killed it for me. But I love a good horror movie and I'll will definitely rent it.

Merc said...

Huh, I want to watch it now. :P