Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Cthulhu (2007)

Not much to say about this one. It's clearly a Lovecraft adaptation. Similar to the 2001 Stuart Gordon film, Dagon, this one is based on "the Shadow Over Innsmouth". Instead of a New England coastal town (like the original story) we have a Pacific Northwest coastal town. Quick plot summary: A young history professor returns to his childhood home of Rivermouth for the funeral of his mother. Long estranged from his father, priest of town cult, the professor tries to make a quick entrance and even quicker exit. Unfortunately, he's named executor of the will and forced to stay a little longer than he'd hoped. While in town, he reunites with an old flame, reflects on a colorful childhood, etc. Everyone in town acts strangely, so he looks into that. Searches for the book of the dead, is raped by Tori Spelling, and other fun stuff. Also, gay.

Yeah, this is a gay picture, but that's not really the issue. I don't care. Gay or straight, who gives a shit? I'm a fan of Clive Barker, so clearly I'm down with gay culture, right? So, it's not the message as much as how it's conveyed. Which is a shame, because at times, the filmmaking is pretty solid. Creepy images abound, lots of modern-day quick cuts (I hate them, but there are those that swear by them), good use of sound effects. Unfortunately, it's all completely overwhelmed by heavyhandedness and poor acting. This isn't the story of a young man returning home after several years only to realize that the cult his father runs is praying to the "old ones", sacrificing innocents to the sea, awaiting their return, distributing the date rape drug, and uttering words like "dagon" and "shagoth". Well, that does happen, but it's not really what the picture is about. It's about a young gay man, forced to leave his town because of his lifestyle, later forced to return to an even more unaccepting community than before. Then they drug him, force him to have sex with Tori Spelling, and somehow they have sea creatures for babies or something. You know a picture is in trouble when Tori Spelling gives the best performance. And it's not even close.

The guy that played Russ, the professor, was painfully uninteresting. Not a good trait for your leading man. Russ' father was pretty damned eccentric, if you know what I mean, and I'm not just saying that because he was the head of a cult. There's an awful flashback of Russ and his childhood pal heading off under the pier where they talk about Christie Brinkley while jerking off together. Ok, we get it. Then the director hits us over the head with a big ass fucking rainbow. If the gay message wasn't enough, we also get an environmental plea shoved down our throats as a radio newscast informs us that the last polar bear, in the wild, has died. I'm not sure what this has to do with the rest of the film, but later we see Spelling's character working around some caves and shit where Polar Bears are held in captivity. So, knock off the global warming all you sons of bitches or else. Also, everyone be gay, or at the very least, legalize gay marriage (I'm for it, seriously!).

Later, Russ is framed for a murder (also, the sheriff has it in for gays), breaks out of jail, tries to save his old flame (new boyfriend), watches the dead walk out of the sea (in an admittedly virtuosic shot), and is forced to make a decision on the fate of his boy toy. The resolution is wholly unsatisfying. The film's best line is when the boy toy and Russ are lying in bed and Russ goes on and on about how he doesn't want to put any pressure on him (his friend is straight and has a family, forgot to mention that). His friend says "it's not like I can change my life and be a gay guy." Ok, I thought it was a good line but I guess the best one is when Spelling's husband says to Russ "Tori (forgot character's name) needs your swimmers".

I'd recommend you watch Dagon for a better adaptation of this material. The effects at the end of that thing were pretty bad but at least they made the effort. Gay or not, we deserve a better picture than this.


elmo said...

What a shame that this material was hijacked to get someone's "point" across. From Beyohnd is also a great Lovecraft movie.

Anonymous said...

I agree. And why are most Lovecraft adaptations just based on Innsmouth? What a shame that the movie is called "Cthulhu" and the big guy (it?) is nowhere in sight.

brian said...

'From Beyond' may be my favorite Lovecraft adaptation. 'Re-Animator' has to be up there as well. I'm greatly anticipating Del Toro's 'Mountains of Madness'. Stupid 'Hobbit' got in the way.