Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Horror Film Review

The Last Lovecraft: Relic of Cthulhu (2009):  Horror nerds rejoice!  How long have you waited for a Cthulhu film that doesn't suck?  Yeah, I know.  Well, if you don't mind a different kind of take on Lovecraft's legendary monsters, you need wait no more.  The straight horror take wasn't working so why not try comedy?

For the uninitiated, H.P. Lovecraft was a writer of weird horror tales in the 1920s.  He was the Stephen King of his day.  His most famous creation was Cthulhu, a god-like monster of pure evil that came from the stars.  A whole mythos was created around Cthulhu and is still very popular in the world of horror.  It's never been my cup of tea, but I totally respect the work and recognize the genius behind it.

Okay.  So Jeff (Kyle Davis) and Charlie (Devin McGinn) are best friends laboring in cubicle hell at a small company.  Bemoaning the state of their boring lives, they discover an older gentleman in their apartment who tells them a strange story.  The Cult of Cthulhu has found half of an ancient relic that when mated with its other half, will release Cthulhu from its underwater prison.  Jeff is the last descendant of H.P. Lovecraft and therefore the task of protecting their half falls to him.  Suddenly, his boring life seems not such a bad thing.  Pursued by some seriously nasty Cthulhu minions, Jeff and Charlie turn to old high-school friend and uber Cthulhu nerd Paul (Barak Hardley) for help.  Paul knows of an old sea captain (Gregg Lawrence) living in the desert who had an encounter with the evil fish beasts and might be able to help.  So it's at Captain Olaf's Winnebago that the final showdown takes place...with a harpoon, some dynamite, and a couple of ancient six-shooters.  No, really.

The humor works beautifully.  It's not so subtle sometimes, I'll admit, but nevertheless, I was grinning like a moron throughout.  Hardley as Paul handles the laugh-out-loud stuff while McGinn as Charlie takes care of the dry, witty bits.  Lawrence as Captain Olaf is an absolute hoot (he uses an, "Arr, matey!" pirate voice that's a lot of fun).  Despite the fact that this is ostensibly a comedy, the dramatic overtones aren't drowned out.  You still feel a sense of tension regarding the bad guys.  This is assisted by the fact that the monster make-up is good and the bad guys are properly menacing, although more in the vein of Doctor Who than anything else.  (Here's an ironic thing:  the images of Cthulhu are freakishly reminiscent of the Ood.)

The Breakdown

Acting:  If I'm honest, it's not the best, but I have seen so much worse.  The excellent chemistry between Davis and McGinn really helps.
Story:  While based loosely on the Cthulhu mythos, this take is unique.  Silly, but unique.  What's nice is that you won't care about the plot holes.
Direction:  Balancing the funny with the scary couldn't have been easy.  It's a sign of competent direction that it looked easy.
Production Values:  Well, this is a low-budget affair, but you'll have a hard time pinpointing specifics to prove it.  It's on film and none of the sets is cheesy or cheap-looking. 
Gore/FX:  There's a fair amount of blood, actually.  Which is awesome.  And the creature FX are surprisingly well done.  Even the CGI, of which there is only a little, isn't bad.  Better than what you'd find in a SyFy Channel movie. 
The Ending:  Oh, they do a mean thing.  They tease.  I haven't heard if a sequel will be forthcoming, but it's certainly been set up.  That's not to say it ends with a cliffhanger.  It doesn't; it wraps up nicely.  More like a prologue for the next one.  If there is a next one.  Boy, I hope so.
The Verdict:  Should you see The Last Lovecraft?  If you like movies like Vampire Killers or Shaun of the Dead, then you should, yes.  There's a scene toward the end where Paul has two broken arms and dynamite stuffed down his crotch that's an absolute riot.  I think I may have actually barked with laughter.  I don't usually bark, mind you.

My Rating4 out of 5 stars.

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