Film Cthulhu: The Kinda-Like-It-or-Totally-Hate-It Local Film Begins Its Hometown Run Tonight
posted by September 12 at 10:49 AMon
In case you hadn’t heard, Cthulhu—the H.P. Lovecraft-inspired, quasi-gay-horror flick directed by Seattle’s Dan Gildark and written by former Seattle City Council candidate/monorail advocate/Stranger contributor Grant Cogswell—kicks off a week-long run at Metro Cinemas today.
Stranger reviewer Paul Constant hated it:
Cthulhu has been trumpeted in the pages of The Stranger for years now, so it is not without a certain amount of institutional shame that I admit Cthulhu is a poorly made film with almost no merits. The “almost” here refers to the cinematography by Sean Kirby, which is, at times, beautiful. But everything else is shit. The pacing is awkward, the costumes are embarrassing, and the dialogue is wooden and just plain dumb.The worst part is that the filmmakers are trying so hard to artfully transcend the apocalyptic horror genre—to comment, through little parodies and self-aware digs, that they’re making a “real” movie with “real” themes—that they wound up producing a horror movie that’s not in the least bit frightening. Cthulhu is possibly the worst in a long line of shoddy H. P. Lovecraft film adaptations. It’s a goddamned shame, is what it is.
Paul’s not alone is his hatred of Cthulhu—I’ve heard from a lot of people who also thought it was shit. However, I saw Cthulhu at SIFF a couple years back and I did not hate it. The unequivocal repulsion experienced by many of my peers challenged me to clarify in my mind what it was about the film I liked. Grant’s a friend, and I hated to think that was the basis for my appreciation. (This would also be unlike me—my friends count on my compulsive, almost-Tourette’sish aesthetic honesty, and I have the list of ex-friends to prove it.)
But this review from the Willamette Week gets at what I think Cthulhu has to offer:
Gildark and screenwriter Grant Cogswell’s nervy work is a reminder of the timidity of most independent filmmaking—even when Cthulhu fails, it fails with panache…Even Gildark’s most obvious gimmick—gay love story meets otherworldly horror—has emotional weight. Cthulhu is basically the tale of a religious-fundamentalist family willing to take extreme measures to cure their son of his sexual orientation. And it takes a certain daring to repurpose The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe as an allegory for a gay idyll. The movie, like most bold pieces of art, flirts with unintentional comedy, but it pushes right past that threat, even as its plausibility crumbles. The movie falls apart—the center does not hold—but its anarchy is a blast to watch.
It’s as a “gay movie” that Cthulhu has the most to offer, I think—the film captures the creepiness and barely subsumed antagonism of small-town life like no other film I’ve seen. Still, appreciating a film by a friend through the prism of a cinematic sub-genre is what Josh Feit would’ve called “a double-reverse back-flip” of a recommendation, and there’s a good chance you’ll hate it. You can find out this week at Metro Cinemas.