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Scarecrow on Seattle: CTHULHU

For the past few years, Scarecrow Video has been contributing reviews of movies made in the Pacific Northwest to the Seattle Office of Film + Music's e-newsletter. We're now proud to be able to share these reviews on our site as well.






Cthulhu (2007)

This locally produced artsy H.P. Lovecraft adaptation, mostly based on the novella The Shadow Over Insmouth, transports the famous horror writer's typical New England setting to the foggy shores of the Pacific Northwest. Jason Cottle stars as a Seattle-based history professor named Russ who lives in a lovely apartment located on Western Avenue with a view of the backside of the Public Market sign. After his mother dies, Russ must make a trip back to his hometown of Riversmouth to visit his estranged family. After a substantial absence from the silver screen, Astoria makes a triumphant return in the role of Riversmouth.

From the mid-eighties through the early nineties Astoria was home to several high level Hollywood projects including stuff like The Goonies and Kindergarten Cop, but since then the picture business has slowed down quite a bit for the small costal town. With its unique architecture, wild coastal views, old/semi-abandoned piers and an abundance of fog, Astoria makes a perfect location for a film like Cthulhu. Aside from the numerous locales used around Astoria, Cthulhu was also filmed at Del Rey Beach in Oregon, 9 Lb. Hammer in Georgetown, The Sea Lion Caves off Highway 101 on the Oregon coast, a retirement home in Des Moines, the Seattle Underground, a house in the Rainier Beach neighborhood located next to Lake Washington, Consolidated Works (which used to exist in Seattle's South Lake Union area) and a gruesome car accident occurs near Cougar Mountain. Sean Kirby's evocative cinematography captures the mysterious beaches, deep blue seas, creepy shadows and rocky coves with a graceful yet off-kilter vision.

When Russ gets to Riversmouth he is reunited with his family and finds his hometown seems weirder than usual. His father heads a bizarre religious cult that worships an unseen sea creature, strange hooded people roam the streets at night, and he is sexually pursued (and eventually raped) by an old schoolmate played by Tori Spelling(!).The plot is very dreamlike and mysterious and likely to frustrate impatient people. The horror is subtle and restrained. Most scares are conveyed through spooky images and eerie sound effects rather than splattering gore which, again, may disappoint some viewers. Lovecraft film adaptations are usually confusing to novices and controversial with hardcore devotees of the Cthulhu Mythos. Cthulhu is no exception to this trend, and it's certainly not a film for everyone. As a casual Lovecraft fan I think this movie does a respectable job of catching much of the mood and vibe of the author's work while updating some of the themes and settings to reflect a modern approach to his stories. I thought it all worked very well, especially considering the film's meager budget and major ambitions. -Spenser Hoyt



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