Cottle and Kirby saved what CTHULHU they could

You can’t go home again – unless you want to lead the masses

Apparently, screenwriter/executive producer Grant Cogswell sold all of his worldly possessions to make the movie happen, and that includes his homestead. In August 2008, the movie was released to but a few theatres, and only earned $15,500 – the budget was $750,000.

The story revolves around Russell Marsh (Jason Cottle), who comes back home to a sleepy sea community when his mother dies. He hates his bizarro, homophobic reverend father (Dennis Kleinsmith), but copes as long as he can. Russell wants to get back to the university where he chairs an apartment, though he can’t break away from the goings-on, which includes freaky dreams, sluglike puppy babies, a strange rune of sorts, and a crazy lady who wants to make a baby with him. But will he breakaway or give into “destiny”?

That summary seems to follow a steady plotline, though the movie is offbeat in its execution of the narrative, which is one of the main reasons Cogswell may be in the poorhouse. The editing seemed rough at times, and with no editor listed in the credits, it’s hard to point the finger at anyone, save director Dan Gildark and screenwriter Cogswell. The pace was start-and-stop, and oftentimes suspense would be waylaid by mediocre and cryptic scenes loaded with bad acting.

With a combination like that, the movie should be a complete bomb. However, Sean Kirby’s wonderful cinematography helped save the film. His work in the dark added that extra-special touch, as well as his use of blues to help shape the tone of the feature. Though not as crisp as Bojan Bazelli’s work in THE RING (USA/Japan, 2002), there is a striking similarity. Most important, lead actor Jason Cottle shined as the angry young man torn by love and family. He brought grit and energy to movie plagued by robotic actors, (save Tory Spelling, believe it or not, Ian Geoghagen and Scott Patrick Green.) Whether calm or enraged, Cottle delivered, and his scenes with Green were extremely touching. He brought a sense of humanity to the movie, and allowed the audience to engage the story in an emotional sense when the rest of the cast pushed viewers away. The strength of his performance reminded me of Michael Moriarty in the quite inauspicious IT’S ALIVE franchise – a professional and dedicated actor doing his damnedest to save a bad picture.

The problem with a dramatic horror like CTHULHU is navigating the hearty HP Lovecraft fan base. If you were to go to IMDB.com and other sites, you’ll see the film trashed by many or heralded as a decent attempt by a handful of others. To date, however, it seems no one has successfully brought one of Lovecraft’s works to the big screen that will please all comers.

Do you have a favorite Lovecraft adaptation you’d like to share?

2.5 stars out of 5

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