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Toronto After Dark 2010: Last Lovecraft (Review #2)

The Last Lovecraft

Directed by Henry Saine

Last night, the 2010 Toronto After Dark Film Festival kicked off, and much to the delight of horror fans, this year’s selection offers a healthy dose of aliens, ninjas, mad scientists, zombies and. of course, castrations.  Needless to say, conservative movie goers will stay clear of the Bloor Cinema this week.

The festival opened with this year’s Slamdance hit The Last Lovecraft – a film best described as a buddy-horror-comedy.  As the last descendant of horror writer H.P. Lovecraft, office nerd Jeff must safeguard the precious Relic of Cthulhu and team up with his geek friends, Charlie and Paul, to thwart a cult group’s evil plan to resurrect a prehistoric god who is bent on destroying humanity.  Writer-producer & co-star Devin McGinn sets his sights on creating a hilarious monster epic, but the convoluted plot, measly laughs and low budget relegates Lovecraft to the realm of uninspiring schlock.

For a horror-comedy to succeed, it must generate ample amounts of laughter and frights.  This is why recent films such as Zombieland, Dead Snow and Severance have become cult favourites.  In Lovecraft, the jokes are sparse, eliciting nothing more than the occasional chuckle.  Beyond an old women telling her grandson to fuck off and a sea captain recounting his terror of being raped by fish, there’s little in the comedy department.  As for horror, first time director Henry Saine couldn’t make a toddler cry.  The death sequences are poorly executed and clichéd.  It’s as if Saine dusted off a paint-by-numbers guide to shooting death scenes and followed it religiously: cue scary music, person hears screams outside, victim pounds bloody hands on window, person panics, person gets devoured – end scene.  This is forgivable for an episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark, but for a feature film, expectations are much higher.

When shot from a distance and in the dark, the monster effects in Lovecraft are average at best, but up close and properly lit, the texture of the creatures bare an uncanny likeness to durable plastic.  Still, there’s plenty of pig intestines and blood to please gorehounds.

Lovecraft’s redeeming quality is the buddy relationship between the lead characters (played by McGinn, Kyle Davis and Barak Hardley).  Their socially awkward interactions and love for all things geeky are occasionally amusing, but it’s Captain Olaf (Gregg Lawrence) who steals the show with his outrageous sea tales (it’s too bad his character wasn’t a focal part of the film).

Lovecraft ends with a set up for a possible sequel, which Saine himself explained is forthcoming once the film sells 60, 000 units on video.  That should give the producers of Lovecraft plenty of time to improve on their lackluster first-outing.

– Nigel Hamid

Visit the official website for Toronto After Dark