Retired detective August T Harrison (sorry don't know what the T stands for) is roped into helping a suspicious acting lady find a missing person who made off with film footage important to her research, which she claims has nothing to do with summoning extra-dimensional horrors to ravage our world.

hey cool
Horror detective story vibe
but YUCK
Missing the actual detective story

You'd think horror and detective story would go together like baseball bat and zombie head, but off the top of my own head I think only Angel Heart really nailed it. Surely there must be more? Drawing a blank... Luckily today's movie is here to set things right, and it's ah, based on the works of H.P. Lovecraftian for bonus points.

It's not good at all. Not a single interesting situation nor line of dialogue, and the detective story portion consists of the guy asking a professor a couple questions and then giving up for being "out of leads". I sort of like it anyway and here's why.

As H.P. Lovecraft himself put it in Supernatural Horror in Literature, "Atmosphere is the all important thing, for the final criterion of authenticity is not the dovetailing of a plot but the creation of a given sensation". Not all will agree with this but I do. I watch movies much as I would look at a work of art, and judge primarily by how they make me feel. Clumsy though this movie certainly is, it manages to feel like a Lovecraftian detective story. When I think of it I get images of the character wandering the town under the eerie glow of streetlights, wrestling with apocalyptic fear and dread in the harsh-real look of digital video that we'll probably have a nostalgic term for twenty years from now. It suggests a way better movie, if that makes sense.

I love engaging stories and cool characters as much as anyone and really wish this movie had any of that; this vibe done inside a great film would be an all time classic, but really how many of those are we going to experience in our brief sojourn through this gutter? Hardly anyone knows how to make them, and those few rarely get funding, and even then making movies is like herding cats so the whole undertaking is a roll of the dice at best. Mostly we're left to imagine. I know it sounds like I'm making lame excuses here but I wouldn't be if the movie had completely botched the atmosphere or bugged me with obnoxious kid stuff like these things usually do. There's enough here that I can just barely by an inch imagine what this movie wanted to be, and maybe I wouldn't have otherwise. It gave me something, so thanks.

But to get back to my trademark complaining, I'm not cool with this trend of actually putting Lovecraft in movies as a character, usually with the plot device of claiming his stories are real and warning mankind against Cthulhu or something. Obviously I've never met the man so I can't comment on what an accurate portrayal of his persona would be like, but I think it's safe to say it's definitely not this. Not that he's a sacred cow, but H.P. Lovecraft was more than anything else always authentic and I think these fake Lovecrafts, even though done by fans, are a bit of a disrespect. The only portrayal I've seen which I think might not have terribly offended HPL is in the Canadian production Out of Mind, which you really need to own a copy of if you want me to like you.

You may wonder why I'm not also complaining about the acting, which is admittedly rather stiff, but I've seen things shipmates. I've seen things that make these people seem like Lawrence Olivier and Toshiro Mifune rolled into one.