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Toronto After Dark 2010: Last Lovecraft (Review #1)

The Last Lovecraft

Dir. Henry Saine (2009, USA, 82 min)

If intrepid mortals were to make a horror-comedy adventure about the Cthulhu mythos, would author HP Lovecraft be turning over in his grave?  Given that Lovecraft is probably a prisoner of the Great Old Ones, I daresay that he won’t mind.

For the uninitiated: HP Lovecraft was an early twentieth century horror writer whose themes of cosmic hopelessness and the insignificance of humanity sparked a new epoch in horror fiction and inspired a legion of devoted fans. Writer Devin McGinn and director Henry Saine are two such Lovecraft fans. Their film, The Last Lovecraft, pays very genuine homage to the late author, but it would be remiss not to say that this film is much more comedy than horror.

The plot is fairly straightforward, provided that you are already a Lovecraft fan (if you are not, it’s never too late to start!). Cthulhu will shortly awaken, and in order to prevent his return, officials at Miskatonic University entrust half of a key that will unlock R’lyeh to the last descendant of HP Lovecraft: a shiftless, awkward, twenty-something hero named Jeff (Kyle Davis).  Jeff, his offbeat buddy Charlie (Devin McGinn), and ultra-nerd Paul (Barak Hardley) must defeat the cult of Cthulhu in order to save the world.

The best thing about this film is that they always go for the joke. No situation is so dire that it can’t also be funny, no subject is too taboo or weird (fish rape, anyone?) that it can’t be joked about, and no character is immune to bouts of excessive awkwardness. The film certainly has flaws (like choppy editing and some rough cuts), but the sheer amount of outrageous comedy makes it easy to forgive these flaws.

Bottom line: Lovecraft fans who are utterly humourless about their fandom ought to skip this film, and it will be their loss. Everyone else, have fun, and remember: Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.

Dave Robson