In the Mouth of Madness Reviews
A horror writer has gone missing and his publisher has reached out to an insurance private investigator, John Trent, in hopes of discovering what happened to the writer. The writer has a cult following of sorts that places his work on par with religion. Can the investigator sort through the mystique of the writer and discover what happened to him?
"When does fiction become religion?"
John Carpenter, director of Halloween, The Thing, Big Trouble in Little China, Vampires, Escape from LA, Escape from New York, They Live, The Fog, and Christine, delivers In the Mouth of Madness. The storyline for this picture is interesting but a bit disappointing and ends in an unfulfilling manner. The acting is solid and the cast includes Sam Neill, John Glover, Peter Jason, Frances Bay, David Warner, and Jurgen Prochnow.
"I know what I am."
I remembered seeing this in theatres as a kid, and again on cable, and never really liking this film. I watched this again off HBOGO and was still as disappointed as the first time I watched it. This is very average, much like Carpenter's Village of the Damned. This is really only worth viewing if you're a horror genre junkie; and even then, it's borderline.
"He sees you."
Well worth a re-visit.
The plot is creepy as it is surreal. Sam Neill is hired to find a missing horror writer in a small sleepy leafy US town, boy does Carpenter love small US towns. He must find Sutter Cane and retrieve his final novel for publishing. Sounds simple eh? well think again.
When I first saw this film it creeped me out a lot, these days it doesn't have the same kind of punch but its still solid. Carpenter goes into overdrive here with lots of trademark icky effects and monsters, most of which look like ideas from 'The Thing'. As usual effects are created with models and puppets which do now look a bit hokey but plenty of makeup and prosthetics and good use of suggestion.
The whole film is extremely surreal and plays out like a nightmare, in fact the whole point is you don't know if it is a nightmare or reality. Pretty much anything goes really as Sam Neill goes nuts trying to get out of Hobb's End and destroy the final evil horror manuscript. This surrealist approach does work and offers up plenty of weirdness which does equal some nice eerie moments, the ghostly boy cycling along the dark deserted highway at night being a good one.
The start of the film is definitely better than the second half and ending. The film is much more creepy as Neill and his female sidekick leave for and arrive at Hobb's End. After Neill gets what he needs and we return to reality the film slightly loses its mysterious spooky essence, the final sequence is an interesting twist to make you think.
Basically a descent into madness for Neill's character, but we're not even sure if he is a real person or not, could it all be part of the horror novel itself?. Its left to your own thoughts really which is cool but annoying also, I like to know what happens period.
If your a Carpenter fan then this will appeal with tentacled monster puppetry, creepy kids running about, satanic references and all set within a Michael Myers type American pie town. Just don't expect too many final answers regarding characters and plot.
In the Mouth of Madness is, quite frankly, John Carpenter's last great movie.