Friday, October 14, 2011

The Last Lovecraft: Relic Of Cthulhu

Now, it is no secret that I am a pretty big fan of the writings of H.P. Lovecraft and the Cthulhu Mythos in general. I have most of his core writings; have read a lot of other author’s takes on the mythos; own most of the Call of Cthulhu RPG books, card games and several other bibs and bobs of paraphernalia. I’ve seen many a film project that has been inspired by his work (and, in fact, one of my first reviews was for the HPLHS production of The Call of Cthulhu) – some have been quite good, some have been...well, the phrase “not so good”, would be drawing a very long bow. Alas, it seems to be that, for the most part, it is the projects that draw directly from the mythos that are the worst; while those who are merely “inspired by” are the far better. Today’s film falls in the latter category, so we shall see how it fares – let us delve into the eldritch madness that is The Last Lovecraft – Relic of Cthulhu.

Promising to “do for the Cthulhu Mythos what Shaun of The Dead did for zombies”, The Last Lovecraft tells the tale of Jeff, an office bound shlub who finds out that he is, as is oft the case in films of this nature, much more than he first thought – he is the last in the bloodline of H.P. Lovecraft. And, much worse than that, the creatures that his ancestor wrote about are real and threatening to destroy reality (as those loveable, gibbous scamps are want to do). Together with his best mate, Charlie and Lovecraft nerd, Paul; he must go on an incomprehensible journey to stop the loathsome Old Ones. See the fat bastard in the center of the poster up there? Yeah, that’s Paul – third banana comedy fat guy gets the prime poster spot...

Made on a budget of $FUCK_ALL_AND_A_DREAM by a cast and crew of almost total unknowns, the film actually manages to do some decent visual acrobatics with itself – it’s not Avatar, nor does it ever claim to be, but we get some decent gore, and the Old Ones, Elder Things and their underlings themselves look as good as you could imagine they would, given the anaemic budget; the Deep Ones come off looking like badass Mugwumps, and it really worked for me. Of particular note, and really the highpoint of the whole film, is an animated history of The Old Ones. It’s not what one would call a “feast for the eyes”, but if the rest of the film had the same level of skill as the make-up, animation and brief uses of CGI, then we’d really have something special. Alas, this is where the really good stuff ends and the film starts to collapse in on itself.

A cast of near unknowns (Freaks and Geeks’ Martin Starr is probably the most recognisable face in the cast, seconded by That Guy Who Tried To Kill Himself In Office Space) do the best they can with a script that doesn’t really do what it is dearly trying to do. Instead of the charm and wit of Shaun of The Dead, Fanboys, Lesbian Vampire Killers or even Free Enterprise; the cast don’t seem to be able to play anything more than varying degrees of unrepentant asshole – when the most sympathetic character is a near mute who drowns to death, then you know something has gone wrong. I have seen worse acting, but I have also seen a lot better – were I to describe the overall, I would say “unfortunately forgettable”. There were a few minor giggles, but really, the script couldn’t reach the heights of what it wanted to do.

I went into The Last Lovecraft hoping that I would get another film that could be looked on as good, as I do like the concept behind the story – unfortunately, a weak script and varying degrees of mediocre acting from people who don’t seem to fully grasp the concept of “likeable” make for an effort that should have been a lot better than the final product. I’m not going to say don’t watch it, just – don’t go out of your way to hunt it down.

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