Being a horror fan can be a difficult thing especially if, like me, you have a particular interest in the low-budget, niche end of the market. For every gem discovered you have been disappointed countless times by movies that hopelessly inept or, worse, that squandered the seed of a good idea. You adjust your expectations accordingly and look charitably on movies that have serious flaws if, at heart, they share the love for the genre that you have. There are some talented filmmakers, script writers and actors working in the ultra-low-budget field, passionate people whose movies fail to reach audiences simply because they don’t have the finances to promote it widely enough. As a fan of this kind of film the one criterion on which I always assess low budget fare is not amazing special effects, a watertight narrative, or even top quality performances – expecting those things feels rather unfair on the budgets concerned – but fun, whether or not I had a great time watching it. Enter ‘The Last Lovecraft’.
Jeff lacks direction. Stuck in a dead end job his social life extends only as far as his best friend Charlie, whose obsession with comic books brings the pair into regular confrontation with their boss. When Jeff is told that he is the last of the line of H.P. Lovecraft and entrusted with a sacred artefact that could bring about the return of the dreaded Cthulhu, the pair embark on an adventure involving the evil Starspawn, an ancient Cthulhu cult, mutants, a land-locked sailor and harrowing stories of fish rape…
Directed by Henry Saine ‘The Last Lovecraft’ is a very strange film. From a direction standpoint the film is competently shot and there is an especially charming and amusing animated section retelling the Cthulhu legend too. In fact the film’s love of comic book culture is clear throughout the entire running time; from Charlie’s obsessive fandom to the encounter with Barak Hardley’s “they call me The Master”, all aspects of the culture are affectionately referenced. The greatest problem with ‘The Last Lovecraft’ lies, however, in its narrative structure.
The script is very well written. There are some excellent interactions early on that are genuinely funny and, whilst some of the supporting cast are purposefully one-dimensional, all characters are given their own moments in the spotlight. Unfortunately it does not narratively reach the same standard and can be difficult to follow; the story is simple as low-budget movies often are, but it raises and then immediately abandons plotlines never mentioning them again, and the passage of time is confused. This is feeling of confusion is never more evident than in the film’s final act; there isn’t one. The film ends abruptly having clearly set up for a final showdown that never materialises. It has been a long time since I have seen so blatantly the lack of funds available at the end of a movie’s production. It is a shame that the film’s vision could not be completed as ‘The Last Lovecraft’ is clearly an ambitious piece using, as it does, an awful lot of special effects from its beginning. Obviously the low budget is evident throughout; some of the mutants are better than others, some of the physical effects likewise, and there’s some clever use of editing to mask what the production lacked in terms of a stunt team. The CGI is very poor but, mercifully, the team decide to stick to practical effects and keep the computerised aspect to a minimum.
Kyle Davis (creepy mannequin sex guy in the Friday the 13th remake and Ray in the decent ‘Skinwalker Ranch’ amongst other things) plays hero Jeff convincingly, starting off as the simple everyday guy who graduates, almost too quickly, to hero, but the real stars here are McGinn and Hardley whose banter with each other and with Davis is what makes ‘The Last Lovecraft’ stand out above similar fare. It really is very funny at points and all three show solid comic timing and an ability to deadpan some ridiculous dialogue. It’s worth noting that Hardley bears more than a passing resemblance to Zach Galifianakis and plays his character very closely to the sweet natured but dim Alan from the Hangover movies; one can only assume this is a choice on the part of the production team and, whilst initially distracting, does little to detract from the piece as a whole. Gregg Lawrence also has a brief but memorable role as Captain Olaf who, as a survivor of an earlier attack by the film’s sea creature villains, has, without doubt, the funniest part of the entire film as he tries to warn Jeff of the dangers he faces.
‘The Last Lovecraft’ has huge issues with uneven pacing, large narrative holes and, most sadly, a lack of funding. However when you watch it, none of these seem to matter. The film successfully achieves the most difficult goals when making any film; it is ambitious, it has a real creative flair, and it is great fun. Out of all the low-budget films I’ve seen in the last decade this is one of very few where I was genuinely saddened that they weren’t able to attract greater financing; I would love to have seen where ‘The Last Lovecraft’ would have gone with double the money. If you can track it down (I caught it on The Horror Channel here in the UK) I recommend giving it a go without reservations. It’s silly, cheesy and has plot holes through which you could drive a bus, but it’s also a really good time.
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