In the Mouth of Madness Reviews
This movie is fucking insane. im not saying it's insanely bad. Im not saying it's insanely good. Im saying this movie is fucking crazy, but with a name like in the mouth of madness and a director like John Carpenter i guess i can't be too surprised. The movie stars Sam Neill but I'll be referring to him as Dr. Grant because thats who he'll always be too me. So in this movie Dr. Grant plays an insurance investigator who questions everybody's story. (just full warning there will be spoilers like a motherfucker so SPOILER WARNING). The opening scene starts with Dr. Grant being taken into psychiatric holding and being placed into a padded cell. While in holding Dr. Grant is plagued by visions of unknown creatures, and visions of the world coming to the end. I actually enjoyed this start and had some decent build up. What are these creatures, How did Dr. Grant end up here, and what do all these visions mean. Dr. Grant is the only one is the movie that i think gives a passable performance. the female lead played by Julie Carmen in my opinion was just terrible and weird. Her character would change personality every other scene and when her character goes mad her performance is laughable. But lets continue.
as we learn through Dr Grants retelling of the story, it all starts with the disappearance of popular horror writer Suter Cane. According to the story Suter Canes writings have led his more disturbed fans to be driven insane. As Suter Canes new novel is closed to being released his fans had been going crazy waiting for it, forming mobs, starting riots, smashing up your local barnes and noble. Enters Dr. Grant who has been hired by Suter Canes publisher to find him and the manuscript for his latest novel. As Dr. Grant tries to learn more about Suter Cane he starts to read some of his books, and this is where we see the visions start for Dr. G. and we are shown these visions by Dr. Grant having a dream within a dream within a dream and within yep you guessed it another dream. Through his continued reading of Suter Canes novels, Dr. Grant discovers a map of New Hampshire with the location "Hobbs End"(which is where most of Suter Canes stories take place) in the middle of the map. Dr. Grant deduces this must be where Suter Cane is and sets off on the road to find him. But he also has to bring Carmen along because i guess shes Suter Canes editor. Up to this point i thought the movie had some decent build up but when our characters arrive at the infamous Hobbs End, thats when the story starts to unravel. And it becomes hilarious.
One of the first things we see when we arrive at Hobbs End is a group of zombie children chasing a dog around, and a bunch of quick scenes or "visions" of just random shit like a kid riding his bike and then become really old, or a cop with a fucked up face beating up a homeless man. these scenes are in here to make us think "wow something weird is going on here," but we already knew that and these scenes are left unaffective. And thats basically just the rest of the movie, just a bunch of random weird shit. Like the towns people who all have guns are scared off and torn apart by a pack of dogs, or when we see an old lady that keeps her husband chained up and naked. There is a part in the movie where a lady just runs up to Dr. Grant and says fuck you and i firmly believe that was the movie telling us hey you stuck through this long your not gonna back out now, your here till the end bitch.
But i have to say the biggest dissapointment in this movie is the special effects which was probably one of the best parts of Carpenters the thing. And you know they knew it was bad as they never had a solid look at the creatures in this movie and the lighting makes them barely visible. i was honestly really dissapointed in this movie and John Carpenter and so im gonna give it a 3/10
It is really hard to articulate my thoughts on In the Mouth of Madness because it is certainly a rare breed of a film. It is clear that John Carpenter had greater creative control over In the Mouth of Madness than the bigger budget pictures that left him disillusioned with Hollywood, but that doesn't guarantee the greatest quality of material in the first place. I was certainly left with a polarized mind by the end of the entire experience and struggling to confirm how much I honestly enjoyed the film.
The story is one with very much potential as it chronicles characters in pursuit of a lost novelist who soon find themselves living out the stories written within his books. It's the kind of tale which wants to make audiences question the boundaries between reality and dark fantasy. Alas, in its pursuit of an oscillated combination of surreal horror and psychological thrills, the story makes it all too clear that the horror is real from early on. There is little that plays with the idea that the horror could be an illusion to the main characters as they are dragged into it far too often. And once this becomes apparent, the entire film is just a series of different horror concepts which are dominated by whatever visuals John Carpenter can muster up. The film seems to give up on its story halfway through to take a backseat to visuals and a scattered collection of different arbitrary horror plot points. This does help to build up an unpredictable universe of the tale, but it's also rather tedious. The psychological concepts are tossed back into the story close to the end as the means of creating a twist, but the manner in which the story is structured makes it difficult to believe it. It is theorized that everything goes on inside the head of protagonist John Trent, but upon the first arrival in Hobbs End there are many strange occurrences that he fails to witness since they are only seen by Linda Styles. Yet even her entire existence is thrown into question. Frankly, there are many small elements of In the Mouth of Madness which makes it structural logic collapse when the viewer chooses to pick them apart due to an endless array of changes to the story's path.
In the Mouth of Madness offers a mystery which completely pervades viewers, but it's almost as if Michael De Luca's own ambitions exceed his narrative grasp. By the end of the film there is an ideal ending which is distinctive of John Carpenter and ties things up nicely, but the journey up until that point is an inconsistent one. There is some strange intrigue that comes with the imbalance since it gives viewers a certain sense of uncertainty, but a lot of the time this is a simple reliance on basic methods to convey it. The concepts take a back seat and there ends up being little story to keep things moving, ensuring that the overall development in the narrative is ultimately rather meandering. The problem is that In the Mouth of Madness is a horror film pretending to be a psychological thriller, and the elements of the former are too obvious while the latter are underdeveloped and rather generic. The film essentially stops having a story midway through and becomes an endless flurry of horror themed visuals handed to audiences. The special effects are cool, but they can only take the film so far. And occasionally there is a sense that the lighting is a little too dark to provide audiences with the right perspective on it all even when the cinematography is placed nicely.
But as with any John Carpenter film, the musical score is a nice touch. In the Mouth of Madness benefits from Johhn Carpenter's composition because it enters the feature in a gentle manner, mixing elements of both synthesizer 80's style with an eerie dark glamour. The rock-themed elements perhaps fail to match up to the overall feeling of the feature, but they are few and procure some climactic moments when they enter the auditory field.
And though the writing for In the Mouth of Madness limits the amount of character development available to the story, the cast still manage to deal a powerful effort.
Sam Neill manages to provide an effective leading performance. John Trent is a pretty basic protagonist whose confidence is his key staple, even in the face of such complex horror he finds himself facing. Though the development in the role is very gradual, Sam Neill stands strong in the role and progressively grips a greater sense of confusion and insanity which grows more intense as the film draws to its climax. Sam Neill develops John Trent from a one-dimensional archetype into a twisted product of his own psychology which is characterized by blunt insanity and unpredictability. The repetitive sophistication of John Trent at the beginning of the film turns into a hard-edged brutality by the end of it all, effectively embracing the mood of the story. Sam Neill proves his worth for In the Mouth of Madness, even if the story takes its time to let him do so.
Julie Carmen's vulnerability in the role of Linda Styles makes for a compelling case which she similarly turns into an embrace to the world around her, and the manipulative subtlety and tenacious darkness of Jurgen Prochnow makes him a perfect antagonist within meagre minutes of screen time through his raw confidence in understanding the convoluted world around him. The supporting presence of Charlton Heston is also a credible touch.
In the Mouth of Madness displays John Carpenter attempting to challenge the borders between a horror reality and a psychological thriller with an unbalanced narrative which relies more on imagery than story, but there is no denying the innovative ambition behind its concepts and the dark atmosphere that embraces this all.
I'm not sure that I should say more than that. As I wrote, the ending was a bit of a letdown, but up until the final two minutes, I enjoyed everything. This movie has monsters for monster fans, jump scares and creepy camera work, montage sequences, buckets of blood, terrifying children, Sam Neill crying his eyes out (see what I did there? ha!), and layers of meta humor about artists creating art and its level of importance in the world. It even spends quite a bit of the movie in an asylum. Good times!
Still, John Carpenter always helps to tell a compelling story.