×

Cthulhu

Rule 2 of the supernatural thriller is having a title people can pronounce. Rule 1 is having some thrills.

With:
With: Jason Cottle, Scott Patrick Green, Cara Buono, Tori Spelling, Dennis Kleinsmith, Nancy Stark, Ian Geoghegan, Greg Michaels.

Rule 2 of the supernatural thriller is having a title people can pronounce. Rule 1 is having some thrills. “Cthulhu” may be recognizable to fans of sci-fi pioneer H.P. Lovecraft as the literally unspeakable demon of pre-humanity, but it doesn’t bode well that this is the clearest aspect of a film that doesn’t quite deliver on any of its myriad plotlines. Look for anemic theatrical (pic began a limited Los Angeles run Aug. 22) and enfeebled ancillary.

Set in a near future of eco-disaster and worldwide unrest, “Cthulhu” initially seems to be a gay-enlightenment melodrama: Russell March (Jason Cottle) is a Seattle history professor whose personal life is just a tad tacky: When he gets a call telling him his mother has died, the man in his bed expresses sympathy and a desire for 20 bucks. Russ is less unhappy about this than he is about the prospect of returning to the island village and family he fled years before.

You can certainly see why he rowed his boat out of Dodge: His father, Rev. Marsh (Dennis Kleinsmith), is as mad as a hatter, and his sister, Dannie (Cara Buono), isn’t far behind. His old flame Mike (Scott Patrick Green) has married, fathered and divorced and refuses to say he’s gay; his old friend Susan (Tori Spelling) and her infertile, wheelchair-bound hubby Ralph (Ian Geoghegan) drug Russ so Susan can rape him. His Aunt Josie (Nancy Stark) is in an asylum, speaking in tongues. And, oh yes, the entire town is involved in a church-led plot to take humankind back to the sea, whence it all began.

The most fantastical plotline can be a perfectly convincing movie, but in “Cthulhu,” the acting is so emotionally unhinged and erratic it borders on camp, diluting any suspense as Russ tries to get to the bottom of why townspeople keep disappearing and why an ancient-looking object d’art has appeared on his motel-room bed while he dreamt about adolescent sexual encounters and hideous creatures invading the earth.

Generally speaking, sex in horror movie is a Freudian avenue to unspeakable atrocity, so it’s be a bit difficult reconciling Russ’ homosexuality with all the odd goings-on in the story. As it is, each aspect of the movie already seems like a universe out of control.

Helmer Daniel Gildark has a strong visual sense — he and d.p. Sean Kirby make great use of Pacific Northwest land- and seascapes, and although they overdo it, their wide-angle shots are painterly and stirring. Gildark has less facility with actors, however: Cottle’s Russ isn’t particularly sympathetic, and while Green’s Mike is likable enough, the other thesps are cartoonish, because they’re playing cartoons.

There are moments of pure inanity-insanity — the sheriff (Greg Michaels), having arrested Russ for a young boy’s murder, starts quoting Yeats. “Cthulhu” has a few of these disorientingly nutty moments, but not enough.

Popular on Variety

Cthulhu

Production: A Regent Releasing release of a Regent Entertainment presentation, in association with Cascadia Film Collective, of an Arkham NW production. Produced by Alexis Ferris, Daniel Gildark, Anne Rosellini, Jeffrey Brown. Executive producers, Gar Godfrey, Grant Cogswell, Roxanne Tarn. Co-producer, Laurie Hicks. Directed by Daniel Gildark. Screenplay, Grant Cogswell, based on the works of H.P. Lovecraft.

Crew: Camera (color), Sean Kirby; editor, World Famous; music, Willy Greer; music supervisor, Van Riker; production designer, Etta Lilienthal; art directors, Liz Cawthon, Lilienthal; costume designer, Doris Black; sound, Charles Van Winkle, Elijah Lawson; visual effects supervisor, Deborah Ristic; stunt coordinator, Jerry L. Buxbaum; assistant director, Megan Griffiths; second unit director, Jason Cottle. MPAA Rating: R. Reviewed on DVD, Los Angeles, Aug., 17, 2008. (In San Francisco Lesbian & Gay Film Festival, 2007 Seattle Film Festival.) Running time: 109 MIN.

With: With: Jason Cottle, Scott Patrick Green, Cara Buono, Tori Spelling, Dennis Kleinsmith, Nancy Stark, Ian Geoghegan, Greg Michaels.

More Film

  • Samuel-W.-Gelfman

    Samuel Gelfman, Roger Corman Film Producer, Dies at 88

    Samuel Gelfman, a New York producer known for his work on Roger Corman’s “Caged Heat,” “Cockfighter” and “Cannonball!,” died Thursday morning at UCLA Hospital in Westwood following complications from heart and respiratory disease, his son Peter Gelfman confirmed. He was 88. Gelfman was born in Brooklyn, New York and was raised in Caldwell New Jersey [...]

  • Margot Robbie stars in ONCE UPON

    Box Office: 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood' Pulls Ahead of 'Hobbs & Shaw' Overseas

    Sony’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” might not have hit No. 1 in North America, but Quentin Tarantino’s latest film is leading the way at the international box office, where it collected $53.7 million from 46 markets. That marks the best foreign opening of Tarantino’s career, coming in ahead of 2012’s “Django Unchained.” “Once [...]

  • Good Boys Movie

    Box Office: 'Good Boys' Leads Crowded Weekend With $21 Million

    The Bean Bag Boys, the self-appointed nickname for the trio of best friends in Universal’s “Good Boys,” are conquering much more than sixth grade. They are also leading the domestic box office, exceeding expectations and collecting $21 million on opening weekend. “Good Boys,” which screened at 3,204 North American theaters, is a much-needed win for [...]

  • Amanda Awards

    ‘Out Stealing Horses’ Tops Norway’s 2019 Amanda Awards

    HAUGESUND, Norway —  Hans Petter Moland’s sweeping literary adaptation “Out Stealing Horses” put in a dominant showing at Norway’s Amanda Awards on Saturday night, placing first with a collected five awards, including best Norwegian film. Celebrating its 35th edition this year, the Norwegian industry’s top film prize helped kick off the Haugesund Film Festival and [...]

  • Editorial use onlyMandatory Credit: Photo by

    Richard Williams, 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit' Animator, Dies at 86

    Renowned animator Richard Williams, best known for his work on “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” died Friday at his home in Bristol, England, Variety has confirmed. He was 86. Williams was a distinguished animator, director, producer, author and teacher whose work has garnered three Oscars and three BAFTA Awards. In addition to his groundbreaking work as [...]

  • Instinct

    Locarno Film Review: 'Instinct'

    Now that “Game of Thrones” has finally reached its conclusion, releasing its gifted international ensemble into the casting wilds, will Hollywood remember just what it has in Carice van Houten? It’s not that the statuesque Dutch thesp hasn’t been consistently employed since her startling 2006 breakout in Paul Verhoeven’s “Black Book,” or even that she’s [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content