Dagon (2001) – Stuart Gordon

So I figured I would take a look at another Lovecraft adaptation, and despite the title of the film, the story is more in line with The Shadow Over Innsmouth, with a slight lean towards Dagon.

And while I appreciate what Gordon set out to do, he’s hampered by horrible lighting and photography, and terrible computer-generated images. There is some great makeup work and solid practical effects, but the film is shot in such a way as to deny any appreciation of the mood the original story sets, and the impact the narrative, and each shocking reveal could have had on the screen.

The production side of the film holds it back, little inserts could have helped build narrative tension, heighten thrills and action beats, but instead, the film ends up a bit of mess that had promises of being something really cool.

Paul (Ezra Godden) is haunted by nightmares of a strange aquatic woman (Macarena Gomez). They’ve troubled him all of his life, and even on a yacht off the coast of Spain with his girlfriend Barbara (Raquel Merono), he can’t find peace.

When a storm strikes, the pair set out on a mission to find help at a local shoretown, only to find horrors they aren’t ready for.

The film devolves into a chase film (which actually runs fairly close to the stumbling, terror filled pursuit in the story) that sees Paul stumbling from reveal to reveal, some more stunning than others, and all lacking the true creepy horror that seeps into all of Lovecraft’s tales.

During the course of his stumbling about the town, he learns from the local drunk, Ezequiel (Francisco Rabal) what has happened to the people,the pledge they have made, the god they worship, and what it means for them, and possibly him, as Paul discovers a young woman, Uxia, who is the very one he has been dreaming of for years.

For all its faults, Gordon gets the look of things right, though, hideously hampered by the questionable CGI (which no doubt even looked horrible at the time) and the makeup effects, for the most part, are only glimpsed. If there had been, without sullying the name of anyone who worked on the film, but better lighting, and photography – everything feels like its shot in the same level of light, and it doesn’t help the mood at all – plus a couple of heightened moments of tension and visceral horror, this could have really been something.

I also like that the three different iterations of Lovecraft that I have watched over the past few weeks kept the horror but eschewed the moronic racism that permeated some of his writing. I may have to revisit some of his stories, and see about tracking down more movies inspired by his works…

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