Unrated - Cinema of the Extreme

Stuart Gordon (RE-ANIMATOR, FROM BEYOND) makes a welcome return to the work of H.P. Lovecraft. In spite of the title, the story owes more to Lovecraft’s “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” than to its namesake. From the beautiful watery opening credits the film plunges us into a wet world of almost continuous rain and streaming moisture. Paul (Ezra Godden in a part that seems written for Bruce Campbell) and Barbara (Raquel Merono) struggle ashore to get help for two friends after their boat is wrecked in a sudden storm. Instead they find a village of unblinking and increasingly piscine people who are far from helpful. Paul is a resourceful if bungling and reluctant hero, while Barbara is the kind of strong female character that is generally absent from Lovecraft’s work.
    The makeup effects are impressive, ranging from understated and disturbing suggestion to all out tentacled monsters. Although blood in water is a constant motif in the movie, Gordon does not throw as much of the red stuff at the screen as in his other genre offerings. However there are some effective gore sequences, including a truly painful skinning.
    The movie succeeds best in its depiction of Lovecraft’s world on screen, from the isolated fishing community with its sinister croaking inhabitants to imposing Gigeresque under-water structures. Even the CG sequences enhance the dream-like atmosphere by being stylish if not completely convincing. However it never feels truly fresh or original. There are a number of nods to genre movies like NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, and JAWS in a little one-liner. There are also some more surprising references to THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK and INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM. Despite its shortcomings, the plot is a satisfying fantasy tale with some unexpected twists and a fair share of horror. The film has received a fantastic DVD release from LIONS GATE in the USA and will premiere on UK DVD and VHS from METRODOME on the 7th October.

Mike Strick


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