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  • Rev Horror

H. P. Lovecraft's The Old Ones

Dir. Chad Ferrin (2024)

A sea captain committed horrific acts on behalf of a cult for almost a century, and he now goes back in time to try to erase his evil deeds. The cult doesn't like that.

The second film in director Chad Ferrin's Unofficial Lovecraft Trilogy, The Old Ones serves as a parallel film to The Deep Ones, a sequel of sorts that delves further deeper into the lore surrounding the Lovecraftian monsters that vie to take over the world and the cults that attempt to summon them to Earth. These types of cosmic horror are difficult to tell, and sometimes even more difficult to watch, but if the filmmaker has a good grasp on the source material and a good mind for making what can often be described as mundane appear more exciting, they can also be quite scary. Thankfully, Ferrin has that understanding of what Lovecraft was going for, and he manages to create his second truly unnerving film dealing with the subject.

Russell Marsh (Robert Miano) washes up onshore, where he's found by Dan Gordon (Scott Vogel) and his son Gideon (Benjamin Phillip). He explains that he's more than a hundred years old and has spent his life murdering people for a cult that worships the Old Gods, having been possessed by one of their number. Now, he seeks to go back in time to undo his wrongs, as well as the just-happened death of Gideon's father, and the two go on a mission to find a way to get this done. Along the way, they run into any number of vicious beasts and unworldly creatures, finally making their way to the man who may be able to right these wrongs.

The Deep Ones once again shows Ferrin's surprising understanding of Lovecraftian mythology, as he tells the story of the Esoteric Order of Dagon in a way that is both kinda scary and also darkly humorous. Ferrin is known for his humorous take on horror, but that's very difficult to apply to Lovecraft, and he manages to do it very well. As difficult as it is to make this type of cosmic horror funny, it's perhaps even more difficult to make it as ghastly and shocking as it needs to be with an indie-scale budget, and he somehow does a fantastic job with that as well. Granted, you're not getting the same caliber of performances as you did with Stuart Gordon's Lovecraft films, nor are you getting the same level of effects work, but it works incredibly well for the type of film this one attempts to be.

Make no mistake about it: The Old Ones, and its predecessor, are B-movies, and the effects make no apologies about this fact. Some of the characters are wearing clearly-rubber masks, and some of the various amputations and beheadings are plastic-y bits as well. While this has its own charming sort of appeal, which any audience member who is familiar with Ferrin's work will already expect, there are also some truly outstanding SFX as well. It's a blend of some of Lovecraft's most well-known works, and the monsters that serve the backdrop for our character drama between Marsh and Gideon are sometimes downright disturbing. The film is a fascinating mixture of scary and laugh-along, and it absolutely works.

Side note: I really appreciate that Ferrin decided not to re-write the history of Lovecraft himself. So many films that are based on his work completely ignore the fact that he was a giant piece of shit, and they try to glorify the man behind the stories. I don't think this is always intentional, and as much as I'm a huge fan of supporting the art, not the artist, it's difficult to get away from the racist legacy that Lovecraft left behind because its themes run so deep in his works. Ferrin takes a different tactic, providing one of his lesser known poems that is smack-you-in-the-face racist to show both sides of the author's coin, and it was a refreshing take (as difficult as it was to hear). Kudos for that, Mr. Ferrin, that was a brave choice.

If you enjoyed The Deep Ones, The Old Ones will likely be right up your alley. It's a bit more of a serious tale, one that dives a bit more deeply into the less-than-human side of the Lovecraft mythology, but it does so fantastically well. It's scary at times, funny at others, and pulls no punches or makes any apologies for what it's trying to achieve. The open-ended finale leaves room for more cosmic tales from director Chad Ferrin, and I for one can't wait to see what else he comes up with. Thankfully, I won't have to wait for long, because we'll also be covering his third film in the "trilogy," Unspeakable: Beyond the Wall of Sleep!

Who this movie is for: Lovecraft fans, B-monster lovers, Swimmers

Bottom line: The Old Ones is an interesting take on a sequel to the previous film, and it's a much more dramatic, and therefore serious, tale. The actors do a great job, especially Robert Miano in the lead, and Chad Ferrin once again shows he has what it takes to deliver a Lovecraft story that is very well done. The creatures on display vary wildly in quality, giving the film a charming, and sometimes terrifying, quality that so many films miss nowadays. If you're a fan of Mr. Ferrin's work, or Lovecraft in general, you'll definitely want to check this one out on demand.

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