H.P. Lovecraft’s the Old Ones Movie Review

Written by Stuart D. Monroe

Released by Breaking Glass Pictures

h p lovecraft the old ones poster large

Directed by Chad Ferrin
Written by Chad Ferrin and H.P. Lovecraft
2024, 84 minutes, Not Rated
Released on March 19th, 2024

Starring:
Robert Miano as Russell Marsh
Benjamin Philip as Gideon Gordon
Timothy Muskatell as Randolph Carter
Rico E. Anderson as Nyarlathotep
Elli Rahn as Crawford Tillinghast
Kelli Maroney as Ambrose Zadok
Cyril O’ Reilly as Buck “Cabby” Hooper

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Review:

If you’re anything like me, you’re an unadulterated sucker for anything that has the balls to attach the infamous name of H.P. Lovecraft right in the title of the film. The man’s work is so tricky, after all – for every Re-Animator, there is a Cthulhu Mansion; for every Suitable Flesh, there exists a Lurking Fear. Adapting good old H.P. is a daunting task. Writer/director Chad Ferrin has done it more than once (see 2020’s H.P. Lovecraft’s the Deep Ones), and he’s starting to carve out his own personal style in the mythos.

In 1930, sea captain Russel Marsh (Robert Miano; H.P. Lovecraft’s the Deep Ones) saw the light of evil, and for 93 years his body was not his own. Inhabited by a Great Old One, he committed unspeakable acts in the name of the Esoteric Order of Dagon. Now free, he is in search of a way to go back in time to reverse the horrors wrought upon the world. But the cult has other plans and will stop at nothing to destroy him.

The film opens with an animated intro showing a man being tossed into the ocean by a group of robed cultists and drifting deeply away. Then it’s live-action, and a young man named Gideon Gordon (newcomer Benjamin Philip) hooks a body while out fishing and camping with his father (Scott Vogel; Night Caller). It’s none other than Russell Marsh, and before you can blink, Deep Ones are coming from the marsh and dear old Dad is dead with his face slashed open. Five minutes in, and shit is getting real!

The following seventy-nine minutes are an amalgamation of Lovecraft story points, names, and concepts. Pulling from The Shadow Over Innsmouth, The Call of Cthulhu, and From Beyond with names like Crawford Tillinghast and Randolph Carter (and an appearance from one seriously cool Nyarlathotep), the film is enough of a mashup that it becomes something fresh and new, an eldridge stew of Lovecraftian elements written by someone who clearly knows and loves the source material.

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H.P. Lovecraft’s the Old Ones is very clearly a B-movie, but it’s a B-movie with plenty of heart and a love of practical FX. There’s face-slashing, rib and head removal, stabbings with the aforementioned ribs, and full-on transformations mixed with adequate CGI for the more cosmic elements and liberal amounts of creepy voices for good measure. The result is a Lovecraft adaptation that boldly does its own thing with a surprising sense of humor and a SyFy Channel sensibility. It is a lot of fun even when (or is that especially when?) the cheese gets extra cheesy.

There’s what is essentially a cameo from genre legend Kelli Maroney (Night of the Comet) that I would’ve liked to see fleshed out a bit further. Some story elements are left trailing off (what happened with Amilia Marsh?), but the overall vibe is so balls-to-the-wall, you’ll hardly miss it. The chemistry between Russell Marsh and Gideon Gordon has an almost buddy cop feel to it that adds to the sense of liveliness and originality. I particularly loved the way many of the characters spit out direct lines from the works of H.P. Lovecraft to keep the tone right where it needed to be.

I now could also use an entire film that centers on Rico E. Anderson as Nyarlathotep. I don’t rightly know what I was expecting when Marsh said they must go to see Nyarlathotep, but it wasn’t what I got…and I mean that in the best way possible. Therein lies the beauty of Chad Ferrin’s approach to diving headfirst into Lovecraft territory; he’s not trying to make the uber-serious Cthulhu Mythos film that we’ve all seen before. I appreciate that.

The film is also left wide open for a sequel. Considering it’s already a sequel of H.P. Lovecraft’s the Deep Ones, with Miano reprising the role of Captain Marsh, I’d say it’s a safe bet time will give us another fresh take on horror’s most complex literary giant.

And if it’s half as fun, goopy, and homage-laden as H.P. Lovecraft’s the Old Ones, I’m totally here for it.

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Grades:

Movie: 3.5 Star Rating Cover
Cover

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Stuart D. Monroe
Staff Reviewer
Stuart D. Monroe is a man of many faces – father, husband, movie reviewer, published author of short horror, unsuccessful screenwriter (for now), rabid Clemson Tiger, Southern gentleman, and one hell of a model American who goes by the handle "Big Daddy Stu" or "Sir". He's also highly disturbed and wears that fact like a badge of honor. He is a lover of all things horror with a particular taste for the fare of the Italians and the British. He sometimes gets aroused watching the hardcore stuff, but doesn't bother worrying about whether he was a serial killer in a past life as worrying is for the weak. He was raised in the video stores of the '80s and '90s. The movie theater is his cathedral. He worships H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, and Clive Barker. When he writes, he listens obsessively to either classical music or the works of Goblin to stimulate the neural pathways. His favorite movie is Dawn of the Dead. His favorite book is IT. His favorite TV show is LOST.
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