10 February 2009 | lost-in-limbo
Dare, you say...
H.P Lovercraft's short story 'The Unnamable' is brought to the screen in a low-rent looking, small-scale production by first time writer/director Jean-Paul Ouellette. Maybe not as commanding as the likes of 'Re-Animator', 'From Beyond' and even 'Necronomicon', but Ouellette manages to invoke a twisted Gothic monster tale filled with menacing atmosphere and dripping with modest blood and gore. The latter actually surprised me how competently it was achieved, and the demon design is a horrifically creative design. Special effects/make-up artists R. Christopher Biggs and Camille Calvet did an excellent job, and I have healthy resume to back up their professional work.
Other than being quite graphic and stemming with eerily howling sound effects, the whole supernatural set-up for the story is quite conventionally light (little in the way of exploring the back-history and the climax is quite sudden) with the usual shocks and developments within an secluded rundown house that breathes spookiness. Really the premise's outline seemed more interesting than what Ouellette's execution could make of it, although the 90 minutes do breeze by with compact editing and the creaky roughness gives it some grit. Ouellette's systematic script is dramatically thin and strictly serious, save some dark humorous spots.
Legend has it that Joshua Winthrop kept in his family's house locked away his demon child that he and his wife were so ashamed about that called it 'the Unnamable'. It trying to keep it hidden, the creature turns on him and brutally murders him. Now in the present, students at the nearby Miskatonic College spend a night in the supposedly haunted house, which there only chance of survival rests on the open-mind of Randolph Carter.
Mark Kinsey Stephenson installs a brash, self-assured attitude to the Randolph Carter character, even though his screen time is limited it's always felt. While surrounding him are appealing turns by Charles Klausmeyer, Alexandra Durrell and Laura Albert.
David Bergeaud's racy, unhinged score is a shamble. One second it's nervously ominous then it changes to something playfully cute. Obviously these sudden shifts in the score were to match up to the moods of the characters/situation (from gruesome activities, suspense driven or humorous inclusion), but more often it felt forced upon. Ouellette's tightly staged handling relies on dim lighting with blue filtering to etch out an imposingly forlorn house and surroundings (like the graveyard) thanks to art director Ann Job. The demon is mainly kept hidden with sweeping POV shots, silhouette outlining, and glimpses of legs until we see it in full glory towards the end
but what stays with you is constant high-pitch screaming it unleashes.
Nothing formidable, but acceptable 80s monster gruel.