In the Mouth of Madness
Director: John Carpenter
Writer: Michael De Luca
Cast: Sam Neill, Julie Carmen, Jürgen Prochnow, David Warner, John Glover, Bernie Casey, Peter Jason, Charlton Heston, Frances Bay
Seen on: 21.5.2016
The horror writer Sutter Cane (Jürgen Prochnow), so successful he is said to have driven readers to madness, has gone missing and insurance investigator John Trent (Sam Neill) is hired to find out if he is really gone or if it’s a publicity stunt. Together with Cane’s editor (Julie Carmen) he travels to the town where Cane’s books are said to be set – and that seems to not be quite as fictional as they thought at first.
I very much enjoyed In the Mouth of Madness, although it is at times very cheesy. But of all the Carpenter movies I saw, this might be the one I liked the best.
Admittedly, I’m a sucker for metafictional plots and storylines, so from the get-go, In the Mouth of Madness had an easy victim in me. But it does work its premise beautifully as it takes you step by step in an increasingly unexplainable world, starting with a general resemblence to pictures that change to pretty much hell itself. And it also works very nicely on another level, referencing many horror authors like Stephen King or HP Lovecraft.
But metafiction alone isn’t enough for me either, so it’s a good thing that the film has more to offer than just that. The special effects may not alway be on point, but I liked the production design. And the cast was great. Hammy performances all around, but it fit the film perfectly.
And I think in the end, that’s what I liked most about it: the film had a sense of humor and really didn’t take itself seriously. Although they were obviously in it to make a good film, maybe evena scary one, they did so with a twinkle in their eyes and an outright wink here and there. Taking something seriously doesn’t mean you have to be all serious about it.
That spark of humor put together with the creative storytelling and good pacing makes In the Mouth of Madness hugely enjoyable, even (or maybe especially) in its weaker moments.