Many a night have I sat before my PC screen in search of the strange things that sate my peculiar tastes. The most particular of these tastes would be my fascination with Lovecraftian (or cosmic) horror. Whilst quite difficult to define with words alone (as well as the names being hard to pronounce), Lovecraftian horror espouses unknowable terrors beyond our pathetic human comprehension; entities that embody evil itself and serve sans but inimical ideologies. The crème dela crème of chaos.
Whilst still very much popular in literature and gaming, horror films often shy away from this genre, probably due to the difficulty of actually pulling it off. Obvious exceptions are those brilliant beauties performed by the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society, as well as others like Dagon, From Beyond, Re-Animator, Cabin in the Woods, Cool Air, and La Herencia Valdemar. Joining this list of masterful motion pictures is the soon to be released The Creature Below.
During a traumatic accident on a deep-sea dive, Olive, a gifted, young marine biologist discovers an unearthly creature. Losing her dream job, Olive smuggles the creature home, intent on studying it in secret, unbeknownst to her devoted boyfriend Matt and estranged sister Ellie.
Plagued by gruesome nightmares, her fractured memories of what happened during the accident in the depths of the ocean begin to unravel, revealing her symbiotic bond with an eldritch horror far older and malevolent than she could possibly imagine, one which drives her to carry out its sinister will, with deadly results for those around her.
So, does The Creature Below manage to carry the torch, or does it fail like so many others before it? I guess the answer is rather subjective. First off, lets address the pack of pachyderms in the room. The initial CGI is dreadful – worse than what is generally on offer from SyFy. The director made decisions to focus that limited, indie budget elsewhere and I’m totally OK with that, especially considering the CGI is almost only in the first few minutes of the film. The score is marginally better by at least adding the right amount of ambiance and atmosphere, but it is a touch monotonous. The cinematography and editing are pretty decent and make up for the poor SFX. The acting left a lot to be desired but was far better than other offerings that have graced my screen as of late and was very watchable. Doctor Fletcher, played by Zacharee Lee, really shone for me; an enormously underrated talent. A real pity was that he had fewer than twenty lines in totality. He was like a bald, British Nicholas Cage; wild-eyed and overtly intense.
Where the movie strikes gold is the narrative. It is a genuinely interesting story with a cohesive plot that doesn’t fall flat like most films in this genre. It takes its time, like any good cosmic horror should, and lets the plot build intuitively and progressively. I will admit that at about the halfway mark the story seemed about as fleshed out as it was going to get, with most gimmicks already out of play, but there was a quick change of pace that managed to keep everything relevant.
Ultimately though, this film very much a movie about a baby Cthulhu and his (her?) surrogate mother. While Olive’s descent into madness is similar to those found in Lovecraft’s novels, it lacks that sense of existential doom, feeling more along the lines of flicks like The Fly or Bite, with a big splash of Little Shop of Horrors sans the singing. That thankfully changes towards the end of the film, where we get an awesome climax and an unpredictable ending that hit all the right notes.
Did I like the movie? Definitely. Did I love the movie? Almost. It is not without its flaws, but as an indie flick it pushed the envelope as far as it would go and therefore made for a really good watch. A definite recommendation and a solid four stars. Catch The trailer below.
Site founder. Horror enthusiast. Metalhead.