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The Last Lovecraft: Relic of Cthulhu


The word 'niche' applies neatly

Rod Lott February 14th, 2011

If you don't know Cthulhu from Shinola, don't bother watching this comedy. And if you do, it's still kind of a toss-up.

thelastlovecraft

While this loving tribute to the works of fantasy/horror author H.P. Lovecraft boasts excellent production values, it offers little in the way of actual humor.

The premise assumes that Lovecraft's tales of the tentacled alien Cthulhu are real and on our earth, all explained via a nifty animated sequence. For years, the Lovecraft lineage has kept the Cthulhu in check and from enslaving the human race, and now that honor is down to his last-known relative, Jeff (Kyle Davis), an underachiever who strikes out with women and works a thankless job at Sqrly Sqrl Gift Baskets.

Goaded by his comic-book geek BFF, Charlie (Devin McGinn), Jeff enlists the aid of Lovecraft expert and all-around loser Paul (Barak Hardley) to find an ancient relic, destroy the creatures (fish-men and all), and save the planet.

"The Last Lovecraft" is obviously made with respect and reverence to Lovecraft, while having a blast poking around at his mythos. The problem is that blast is not infectious, at least not beyond its niche radius (i.e. the very characters it portrays). I've read dozens of Lovecraft stories over the last decade — some great, some terrible — and even I didn't find the jokes worthy of more than a few smiles.

This is as good a time as any to address the next generation of comedy scribes: The word "fuck," in and of itself, is not funny. You have to do something more with it. Jeff and his pals use it nearly as often as they do breaths of oxygen, and it quickly becomes tiresome — not because the viewer is prudish, but the screenwriter is lazy.

That is McGinn himself. A character actor you're not likely to recognize, he's making his script debut here. Not only has he imbued his role with what he thinks are the best lines (they're not, making his Charlie an utter annoyance in less than a minute), but has seen fit to put his name — and not director Henry Saine's — above the title, as a possessive. You can't do this if you haven't earned it, and McGinn has a long way to go before that. Wes Craven can get away with it, because he has decades of hits under his belt to back up the brand; McGinn cannot, because guest spots on "Wizards of Waverly Place" and "Felicity" doth not an auteur make. It comes off as egotistical, and sets up an expectation that your work has cleared a bar that's higher than others can reach.

It doesn't. Like the recent horror comedies "Doghouse" and "I Sell the Dead," "The Last Lovecraft" leaves much to be desired. In his first time at helming a feature, Saine keeps the proceedings lively and the pace quick, but the script lets his ambitions down, going for the cheap and/or obvious gag, rather than the clever one, more times than you can shake a Shoggoth at. —Rod Lott

 
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