Type: Feature presentation
Metro Weekly Rating: (4 out of 5)
by Sean Bugg
''APOCALYPSE, WE'VE all been there,'' sang Buffy the Vampire Slayer. ''The same old trips, why should we care?''
That pretty much sums up the first third of Cthulhu, a horror film in which the old gods from the well-known and little-read works of H.P. Lovecraft plot their return in the midst of a coastal Oregon town. It seems the world of the near future is spiraling quickly down the toilet as polar bears die off, war engulfs the Middle East and Eskimos lead terrorist attacks against the U.S.
The only thing standing in their way may be Russ (Jason Cottle), the estranged gay son of a local cult leader who has come home to attend his mother's funeral. His original plans for a brief visit change when he reconnects with his childhood best friend, Mike (Scott Green), and starts to see hints of the doom hidden in his hometown.
''Plodding'' doesn't really do justice to the excruciatingly slow pace of Cthulhu's beginning. Fortunately, once a few creepy pieces of the puzzle start falling into place, director Dan Gildark ratchets up tension with some intensely creepy visuals and a handful of genuine scares. Gildark shows a talent for some compelling compositions on screen, from a creepy interlude in a liquor store to a conversation set in front of a tank of swimming polar bears.
But the scariest thing in the film has to be Tori Spelling, decked out in a park ranger outfit that was apparently pilfered from a porn set. Truly, I'd be freaked out and terrified too if Spelling were humping my leg. Ironic stunt casting may work for some films, but not this one.
Luckily, she's not the death knell for Cthulhu, which manages to wend its way to an ambiguous ending that will be frustrating for some but that actually fits the nature of the story. You may leave the theater wondering what the hell that was all about, but if you spend a little time alone in the dark, you'll find that the unsettling feelings of Cthulhu run deep. -- SB
You may buy your tickets or passes in advance: Online at BoxOfficeTickets.com or by phone at (800) 494-TIXS (494-8497). Or you may visit the Lincoln Theatre (1215 U Street, NW, WDC); the Landmark's E Street Cinema (555 11th Street, NW); or Lambda Rising (1625 Connecticut Avenue, NW, WDC).