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You know what? This actually wasn't half bad. Seriously, I was impressed. We're not exactly talking Oscars material here, but it was good. It entertained and was compelling enough to really grab you and keep you.
What this movie did so right was portray a sense of madness that really got under my skin. Yeah, the costuming wasn't the greatest, and yeah, it does distract from the atmosphere, but good god, you can really feel this guy's downward spiral into insanity. It's not even slow. The moment things start, they start off running and don't stop. Things escalate on such a steep curve, you don't think it could get any more ridiculous. This does mean that the ending is a bit of a disappointment. It just falls slightly short of the kind of climax this really needed. Don't get me wrong, the climax is intense, just not as intense as the scene right before it, which is, frankly, way crazier.
The acting was meh. The whole story is narrated first person by the male lead like those old film noir movies. This is intentional, of course, as this was stylized very much like a Lovecraftian tale. The problem is, it's kinda hammy. The actor really does lay it on a bit too thick.
The story was fantastic. There are three overlapping layers, the main story arc, the lead male's personal arc and the mythos. The mythos was fantastic. You never really see a creature like a rubber monster, though one is referenced and there are little bits and pieces of it. However, you really feel like there is this esoteric third person, some kind of entity that is ever present, much as you never really see it. That's the Lovecraft style done right.
So the book that’s the catalyst for the whole story is basically trying to take the reader on a journey where it seems like every chapter has a different effect of the reader's psyche. This effect is sudden. The very first read causes the main character to lose multiple hours which he only discovers by playing back a recording. Only a couple pages in and he's talking to a dead street boss (played by Matt Frewer) who’s missing the top half of his head.
That's how the book is supposed to work. The more you read, the crazier shit gets, and the more this creature takes ahold of your mind. The story detailing the travels of a man lost in the woods with his two companions after having encountered the beast.
Here's the thing, the big leather-bound prop journal that they use for the movie... they never turn the page. It quite visibly stays on the same page the whole movie. I don't think this was a prop oversight. Maybe I'm reading into it too much, but I think there are no other pages in the journal. I think the entire book is supposed to be cerebral. It’s a connection to the beast and there's nothing really special about the book itself. Of course, this could be the props department phoning it in, but it made me think about it, which says a lot. This movie had me thinking about the movie the whole damn time.
The whole thing culminates when the book finally reaches into your soul and pulls out some deep regret to basically use it to try and kill you. There's a pretty heartfelt scene at the end where both the male lead and the female lead confront their failings as a father and daughter.
That shit, however, was fucking second to the parts where some old lady kills her husband and holds the male lead and female lead's love interest at shotgun point for a few agonizingly intense scenes. No one is immune to the effects of the book and it really starts to get to some of the locals.
It's also filled with very colorful characters. I can't leave out that our old friend Smokey Man, William B. Davis, is in it. There's this fun duo that have a bit of a side story monitoring the main character and watching them go mad is pretty entertaining.
Over all, this movie is worth the watch for at least hardcore horror fans. This might not be the cup of tea for casual viewers.