You’ve got to love the Slamdance audience. Unlike Sundance, the majority of the movies that Slamdance programs in its lineup really ARE indie films. The actors are unknowns, the writers and directors are often first-timers, and distribution isn’t a foregone conclusion. The Slamdance audiences know this. They’re loud, they’re appreciative, and more than anything-they’re forgiving. There’s a respect for ingenuity in the face of budget constraints and a sincere desire to buy in to the world of a film. First-time Director Henry Saine’s horror sendup The Last Lovecraft: The Relic of Cthulhu was a good match for this type of audience at their screening on Tuesday night in Park City. The film flew under the radar for the most part, with Tucker and Dale getting the buzz as THE horror comedy of the week over at Sundance.
The Last Lovecraft is the story of Jeff, office drone and last remaining heir of the bloodline of H.P. Lovecraft himself. Jeff is tapped by a member of the Order to protect the relic of Cthulhu from being reunited with the Starspawn-which would bring about the return of the monster-god (you guessed it) Cthulhu. The uptight, straight-laced Jeff could care less about this task, but his comic nerd office buddy Charlie more than makes up for it with his enthusiasm. Kyle Davis and Devin McGinn (who also serves as Producer/Writer) play well off of each other as grown childhood friends Jeff and Charlie, though some scenes between the two tended to run on too long or not move the story forward. Their relationship was surprisingly authentic. Not every beat ends up as a one-liner or a site gag, as can happen so often when horror and comedy are mixed. Barak Hardley picks up the slack as the Zach Galifanakis of the group, playing Jeff and Charlie’s Lovecraft-obsessed high school acquaintance Paul. He has possibly the best lines of dialogue of all of the characters and steals every scene he’s in. Look out for a cameo from Judd Apatow staple and “Freaks and Geeks” alum Martin Starr as Paul’s best friend.
As in most first-time low budget features, some of the actor’s interactions fall flat and the scope of the story is limited by the effects that can be produced with the money and time available. Nevertheless, Director Henry Saine gets in a complicated backstory with comic animation and brings to life some seriously creepy Lovecraftian seamonsters with equal parts blood, slime, and slapstick. For their part, the actors seem to be enjoying themselves, the story is solid, and the creature effects are astoundingly good for the budget range they’re in. The result is a lovingly crafted and light-hearted monster flick that will get more than a few laughs.