Cthulhu (2007 film)

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Theatrical release poster
Directed by Daniel Gildark
Produced by Jeffrey Brown
Anne Rosellini
Written by Grant Cogswell
Dan Gildark
Based on The Shadow over Innsmouth 
by H. P. Lovecraft
Starring Tori Spelling
Cara Buono
Jason Cottle
Distributed by Regent Releasing
Release dates
  • June 14, 2007 (2007-06-14) (Seattle International Film Festival)
  • August 22, 2008 (2008-08-22) (United States)
Country United States
Language English

Cthulhu is a 2007 American horror film directed by Dan Gildark and co-written by Grant Cogswell and Daniel Gildark. The film is loosely based on the novella The Shadow over Innsmouth (1936) by H. P. Lovecraft.

The film moves the story from New England to the Pacific Northwest. The film is notable for having a gay protagonist.[citation needed] Screenwriter Grant Cogswell explained that he and Gildark chose to exploit the metaphor for the horror faced by a gay person returning for a relative's funeral and having to face the horrors of small-town life.[1]

The film premiered June 14, 2007 at the Seattle International Film Festival and officially opened in select theatrical venues August 22, 2008.

Plot summary

When young history professor Russ is called upon by his sister to execute their late mother's estate, he is reunited with boyhood friend Mike, and with his father, the charismatic leader of a New Age cult. While exploring his memories, Russ wanders into a warehouse where hundreds of names are listed on the walls. As he sleeps that night, he dreams of a stone cudgel and awakens to find a cudgel in his motel room; the town drunk warns him that it is an instrument of sacrifice. A young liquor store clerk enlists him to help find her brother, whom she believes has been taken by the cult. Russ's aunt, who has been living in an asylum, tells him that his mother left a message hidden in her house.

Looking for answers in the warehouse, Russ is taken on an unbelievable journey through the small town's ancient, subterranean origins. When he escapes, he and Mike find the girl's brother murdered. Russ begins to believe preparations are underway for a mass sacrifice, and engages the attentions of a seductress in order to obtain information. He is raped and arrested for murder on the eve of the May Festival. The stakes are raised when Russ discovers that the cult intends to take over the world by raising anthropomorphic creatures from the sea.

The film ends with Russ and his best friend/lover being held by the cult, as Russ' father orders him to choose between the man he loves and the life he has been called to lead in his father's church.


Critical reception

The film holds a 62% "Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes.[2] Maitland McDonagh wrote, "it's a thoughtful and sometimes very creepy film that tackles big themes on a small budget and proves that in the right hands, ideas can trump special effects."[3] Steve Barton of Dread Central wrote, "Cthulhu is high on ambition and originality and the closest we've come to a true H. P. Lovecraft film."[4] Conversely, Mark Olsen of the Los Angeles Times wrote, "Cthulhu isn't awful, but it isn't particularly compelling either,"[2] while John Anderson of Variety wrote, "the acting is so emotionally unhinged and erratic it borders on camp."[5]


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