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Culture: LovecraCKed the Movie
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Saturday, 21 April 2007 Written by Henry Midgley
Receiving a free DVD is always a positive experience, watching it though is not always so pleasant- depending on the film. I must admit to two things upon reviewing this film (the capitals in the centre are intentional)- firstly that I have not read any H.P. Lovecraft around whose fiction the film is constructed and secondly I am not in general a fan of horror films nor of teenage American humour. Overall therefore I'm not a member of the target audience of this small independent film.

However despite that I think it is possible to evaluate the film- the film is essentially a set of shorts, one after the other, which are connected by the device of a journalistic investigation into H.P. Lovecraft.

The journalist's monologues are supposed to mock the kind of faux investigative journalism that reveals little and invites one to think less. Strolling through Providence, Massachussets where Lovecraft was born, the jounralist shows us a picture of a house and tells us that this wasn't Lovecraft's house, then a cow and tells us it wasn't his cow, followed by a horse and you've guessed it tells us it wasn't his horse, followed by a dog that surprisingly wasn't his dog. Having worked on documentaries in the past- there is an element of this of course- but actually that aspect of documentary writing is one of the best- it sums up the main problem with these segments, that whoever wrote them doesn't get what the flaws of journalism really are- the detail is normally ok, its the stupendous inability to contextualise and provide ideas that lies at the root of the problem with all documentary making.

Many of the other jokes- the member of the public whose polite familiarity disturbs the journalist- are fairly amusing but a bit obvious. Despite this- the journalist played by the director has a kind of sub Angus Deayton (for UK viewers) pleasantly ironic style- his delivery is better than his script. Having said that moments of amusement- but at no point are they maintained in my view- the comedy is surrealist but themes are not maintained long enough nor are the jokes amusing enough to make one want to make the effort to understand the comedy.

Obviously produced on a low budget- something that is visible in minimalistic sets and possibly ironic overacting by the principals, the film does have good moments. Some scenes are filmed well and some of the short films are well constructed- some though are merely junk thrown together for shock value (one particular sequence near the end struck me as both repellant in its imagery and purposeless in its expression)- utlimately your reaction to the film depends on what you think of this impressionistic model of film making, of a three minute scene where someone pokes out eyeballs or of faces emerging in blood. Some of these are scarier scenes than others- the face of blood is actually pretty effective. But others seem just tacky and exploitative.

Overall this is a melange. It is undisciplined- I suspect the film makers would like a comparison to Lynch or some other alumnus of the school of incoherence but they fall short by a long way of such an accolade. A film to hold attention must have coherence of some sort- especially if it is a loosely tied series of short films there must be some kind of reason to stick them together. This film feels very much as though an editor could have benefited the whole ensemble- moments of good filming, are paralleled particularly at the end by moments that should never have seen the light of a DVD release.

The issue is for most viewers whether the turgid or the ridiculous or even the banally shocking is worth sitting through in order to get to the occasional moments where the director demonstrates he can direct- from my point of view as someone uninterested in the genre, with a passing but not profound acquaintance with Lovecraft and with little interest in a postmodern sense of humour it wasn't- if you like all those things, it might be but you ought to be prepared to sit through a lot of trash in the pursuit of occasional moments that showcase talent.