Thursday, February 9, 2017

Short Attention Span Review: In the Mouth of Madness (1994)

Short Attention Span Review: In the Mouth of Madness (1994)

John Carpenter is my favorite director and I have a powerful affection for his work, so there may be some bias at work here, but I think most horror fans would agree that In the Mouth of Madness is a real winner.  It's a decidedly strange horror film with a loose grip on reality, but it is anchored by genre stalwart Sam Neill in a grounded performance that ranks among his very best.  It's his steady presence that keeps us locked in even as the picture that starts as something of a detective yarn descends into cryptic Lovecraftian terror of the highest order.  I think it is safe to say that by the time it reaches a fabulous conclusion, what began as a fairly straightforward venture in terror has become one of the most erratic journeys into the macabre out there.  Carpenter may not have been at his peak here, but he was damn close, and one of his trademark scores gives In the Mouth of Madness a throbbing pulse.  Neill is the star and he is the movie's greatest strength, but he is ably supported by a fine cast that includes Jurgen Prochnow at his most nefarious, Julie Carmen at her most appealing (Spoiler Alert: by the end of this one we will see her at her most unappealing), and there's even a quality cameo featuring the great Charlton Heston.  The picture is all about unnerving the audience, but Carpenter sprinkles in a little humor along the way, and as is the case with most of this director's work, the pace never relents.  Finally, I will reiterate that I absolutely treasure the ending.  In closing, In the Mouth of Madness may not be one of my Top 5 John Carpenter Movies, but it's still a top-notch frightfest that I greatly enjoy.

Final Grade: A

Fellow Carpenter fans should also scope out my Top 5 Main Themes from John Carpenter Movies and my Short Attention Span Review for Prince of Darkness.

There's a lot to like about this mind-bending chiller, but Sam Neill's killer performance is easily its biggest asset.

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