An insurance investigator searches for a missing horror writer and
discovers that the writer's fictional nightmares are coming true.
In the Mouth of Madness (1994)
Directed by John Carpenter
Written by Michael De Luca
Starring Sam Neill, Julie Carmen, Jürgen Prochnow,
David Warner, Charlton Heston, John Glover, Frances Bay,
Bernie Casey, Peter Jason
In the Mouth of Madness had an amazing premise, one that I hope gets another chance in the spotlight. Unfortunately, the film suffers due to a weak second half and a lack of actual plot. Despite the superb effort by Sam Neill, this film goes absolutely nowhere, which is a shame because it sounded really cool. The idea of a horror writer's nightmarish fantasies coming to life and driving people insane is too awesome to pass up. I only wish the actual product had lived up to my expectations.
Sam Neill is really the only thing holding this movie together. He does a fantastic job with what he's given, where as the rest of the cast (even Charlton Heston) completely phones it in. Jürgen Prochnow was a good choice for psychopathic horror writer/interdimensional gateway Sutter Cane, but he doesn't really do anything throughout the entire film. He just looks cool and promises scary things in the future. The story is built around the idea that the work of Sutter Cane is real and his latest book will cause the end of human existence because it will allow the return of ancient beings called the Old Ones. That's where it lost me. It would've been cooler if it was the Devil, or some demon, but no. They had to plug the Lovecraft monsters without calling them the Lovecraft monsters.
The third act is incredibly rushed and it's very unclear what's actually happening most of the time. There are some creepy moments, but they are not enough to save this film, which is definitely one of John Carpenter's weakest efforts. He even copied his creature effects from The Thing almost verbatim. It was nothing short of lazy and made me see why his films began to gradually decrease in quality after They Live. In the Mouth of Madness could've been one of the freakiest horror films of all time, but it tripped at the finish line and lost the race for good.