January 12, 2010

Justify My Netflix: Cthulhu (2007)

(Like many Netflix customers, I too can get quite lax with the timely watching and returning of my movies, which of course defeats the entire purpose of having a flat-rate rental plan in the first place. To combat that, I am now writing standardized mini-reviews of each and every movie I end up watching through Netflix, both instantly and on DVD. Don't forget, all previous 'Justify My Netflix' reviews can be found on CCLaP's main movie page.)

Cthulhu (2007)

Today's movie: Cthulhu, 2007 (Amazon | IMDB | Netflix | Wikipedia)

Why I added it to my queue: Because this indie DV feature from gay production company Here!* offers a unique and compelling premise: called back to the tiny Pacific Northwest village where he grew up in order to attend to his late mother's estate, an out history professor must deal again with his zealously religious father and his conservative cult church that literally worships the "Old Ones" of HP Lovecraft's fictional mythology, the entire thing not just an inventive horror movie but a grand metaphor for homophobia among fundamentalist Christians in small-town America. Plus Tori Spelling as a white-trash fag hag!

The reality: An entertaining and impressive surprise. Because like I've said before, the quality of these high-def digital movie cameras has shot up so much in recent years, it literally gives people the chance now to make indie-quality feature films at slightly above the cost of home consumer equipment; and while that has definitely led to an increase of great-looking but unwatchable crap on the festival circuit, it also provides a chance for challenging, genre-bending visions like these to get realized, the kind of personal film that most people with big sums of money would simply never take a chance on. The fact is that this movie has a lot to say about trying to live a gay lifestyle in a small town, as well as the complex factors that tie us together with our families; but by examining it through the filter of a horror story, Cthulhu manages to avoid the rainbow-flag-waving sermons of most films like these, and instead brings its message to a new audience in a sneaky but effective way. And make no mistake, this is a horror film, one that will not disappoint genre fans -- there's a whole section involving creepy little alien babies in the basement of a farmhouse, for example, that scared the bejeezus out of me, and the whole thing ends on an apocalyptic note that would've made Lovecraft himself proud. A great treat not only for Cthulhu fans but fans of gay cinema, and it comes highly recommended.

Strangest piece of trivia: During production, the crew happened to get some shots of a US Coast Guard boat named the "Alert," which just happened to randomly be docked in the background of their scenes that day; it's pure coincidence that there was a boat with the same name featured in the original Lovecraft story "The Call of Cthulhu."

Worth your time? Yes

*And by the way, do make sure to check out the previews on this DVD, in which it becomes clear that Here! doesn't really care what kind of movie they produce, as long as it features gay actors playing gay characters living openly gay lifestyles. It leads to a whole melange of genres that the company puts out, and the most eclectic set of coming attractions you'll ever see on a single DVD.

Filed by Jason Pettus at 7:24 AM, January 12, 2010. Filed under: Movies | Reviews |