I wanted to like this movie. How couldn’t I be interested in Doug Bradley as the voice of Nyalarthotep? The basic premise was promising as well; a young Howard Lovecraft stumbles upon the lost city of R’lyeh via an incantation in his insane father’s journals. Once there he befriends some cultists and incurs the favor of an old one, who helps him try to find his way home. There were little Lovecraft jokes, and lots of tentacles. Seems like an ideal entry in the sub genre of “kiddie horror”.
I really, REALLY, wanted to like this movie.
But, it just was not good. For starters, the animation, clearly inspired from the look of movies like Paranorman, was flat and stilted. It was like I was watching the plot development scenes in a video game. The motion was severely lacking in smoothness. This could have been forgivable, had the movie been well written and honored the Lovecraft mythos. This was not the case. The dialogue and voice acting felt awkward; every scene seemed to go on just a few minutes too long, creating a drag in the plot; and Lovecraft’s characters were just softened a little too much. Even though this movie is “for kids”, its obvious that adult fans of the author will likely be the primary audience. Knowing that, the writers should spent more than a night reading up on the mythos on wikipedia, which is what it felt like. Im sorry, but an Old One, even a grateful Old One, would never stand to be called “Spot”.
Perhaps worst of all, is that the villain wasn’t so villainous. Algid Bunk is portrayed as this powerful sorcerer who wants to merge all realms of existence, but the book she needs is literally stolen from her hands and all she can do is scream “No! Stop that!” Her peons don’t inspire fear and she has a small child do the work for her. This character should have been nearly unstoppable, requiring more than a few uttered words and a surprise attack from fish children with slingshots. Instead, Howard just sort of…defeats her. There’s no real reason why.
Challenged fulfilled: Watch a PG rated horror movie