In the Mouth of Madness

1995

In the Mouth of Madness

Critics Consensus

If it fails to make the most of its intriguing premise, In the Mouth of Madness remains a decent enough diversion for horror fans and John Carpenter completists.

59%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 46

73%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 24,433
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Movie Info

This John Carpenter horror movie simultaneously honors and pokes fun at the work of author Stephen King as it depicts a violent and chaotic real world that his been strongly influenced by a horror writer. John Trent, an insurance investigator, has gone off the deep end. The film opens with he and a psychiatrist in a padded cell. There the demented Trent tries to tell his story of violence and confusion. The shrink recognizes that his story is by no means unique, for such events are happening everywhere. Trent believes that the cause of the chaos lies within the writings of author Sutter Cane who recently disappeared. Trent was hired by the writer's publisher to find him, and this lead him to his conclusion that Cane was somehow behind it all. Trent was assisted by Linda Styles, Cane's editor. Together they went to find Hobb's End, the fictional location of Cane's tales. They found it in New England. What was even stranger, is that all the terrifying events mentioned in Cane's books came to pass in this innocuous village.

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Critic Reviews for In the Mouth of Madness

All Critics (46) | Top Critics (10)

Audience Reviews for In the Mouth of Madness

  • Jun 21, 2019
    This one asks the question: what if Stephen King became a god because his devoted fanbase really believes in him, and believes in what he writes? Okay, I'll bite, so where does this go from there? While the film certainly is derivative of King's approach this film lacks having a point as King is wont to do sometimes. So yeah, the writing sucks, and sunk this work. Neill and Prochnow deliver worthy performances
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
  • Nov 14, 2013
    An insurance investigator investigates the disappearance of a bestselling horror novelist whose books have the power to drive men mad. The pioneering meta-horror premise compensates for an ordinary execution.
    Greg S Super Reviewer
  • Oct 16, 2013
    Part supernatural thriller, part dark humorous tale, part surrealistic trip, all Lovecraft rip-off. It's fun and interesting while it lasts but it's tonal inconsistencies and unintentionally funny moments kinda ruin the experience a bit. It also looks very dated for a 1995 movie but the story is interesting while it lasts, holding some nice surprises until the end.
    Francisco G Super Reviewer
  • Apr 25, 2013
    After "The Thing" in 1982 and "Prince Of Darkness" in 1987, director John Carpenter completed his self-titled 'Apocalypse trilogy' in 1994 with "In The Mouth Of Madness". Unfortunately, by this point, Carpenter couldn't get any strong studio backing for his projects and as a result his excellent concepts never really took off as well as they could have. This film is another example of the financial problems that he was facing. When renowned horror writer Sutter Cane (Jurgen Prochnow) makes a sudden disappearance, strange things begin to happen. His ability to describe evil, literally, starts to come to life and effect everyone in society. To investigate his mysterious disappearance, Insurance investigator John Trent (Sam Neill) is sent to a little East Coast town called Hobb's End. However, this little town is actually a figment of Cane's imagination and Trent soon finds himself questioning his own sanity as he is drawn further and further into the dark recesses of Cane's twisted mind. As always with Carpenter, the concept and premise is one of sheer brilliance and it possesses more than few references to real life horror writers Stephen King and H.P. Lovecraft but unlike his previous efforts there is something amiss here. Maybe it's because Carpenter doesn't actually write the script himself or even compose the soundtrack with the idiosyncratic and atmospheric style that fans of his will be accustomed to. Despite the excellent premise, I found that the films major issue was a lack of drive. It didn't catch me the way it did when I first seen it. Also, it suffers from a failure to bring a depth to any character other than Sam Neill's investigator. Sutter Cane is a very intriguing antagonist with a lot of potential but he features very little and when he does appear, the films budget is tested in order to realise it's horror. All in all, this struck me as an attempt from Carpenter to appeal to a wider audience and as a result sacrificed the very style that made him a unique filmmaker to begin with. That's not to say that this is a poor film. It's not. It's very cleverly constructed and for the most part, very well delivered. Carpenter is a master at his build up and construction of atmosphere, meanwhile, cleverly unravelling the mystery. However, the film takes a little too long to get going and just when it's hitting it crescendo, it feels rushed and over a bit too soon. For the most part, Carpenter does well to blur the lines between fantasy and reality but ultimately it doesn't quite come together as obscurity and pretentiousness creep in. It's a great attempt, but Carpenter has delivered better. Mark Walker
    Mark W Super Reviewer

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