After finishing John Carpenter’s cult classic, In the Mouth of Madness, I was left genuinely speechless. Typing out this review is hard, because I can still feel the impact of what I’ve seen and the brilliance put on display. I genuinely don’t want to spoil anything so the review itself will be fairly sparse. I’ll have a more detailed piece about the movie when I get to watch it again and really get down into it.
The plot follows John Trent (Sam Neil) and Linda Styles, a who’s tasked with finding and retrieving Sutter Cane(Jürgen Prochnow ), a famous horror novelist and/or the manuscript to his latest novel. As they travel to his supposed location, their sense of reality becomes more warped and twisted, causing them and the audience to ask what’s genuinely going on.
Cinematography here really amplifies the paranoia and highlights the presence of dark and supernatural aspects. In particular, during a driving scene, the presence of pitch black helps set the scene. I felt unnerved, but more importantly my senses were heightened, paying even more attention to anything that cut the dark. The strange and uncomfortable nature of the visual design and special effects make the viewing experience not only nightmarish, but creates a cerebral experience. I was left constantly asking questions. To some that may be an issue- the film requires you give it time and take in what’s happening- the mystical and transgressive nature of it- without trying to rationalize it.
Sam Neil’s performance really helps sell the absurdity of the phenomena happening on the screen. He’s always calm and cool, exhibiting a sense of rationality and poise at at the disturbing events happening around him. This helps the audience stay guessing. The underlying skepticism makes us question the “true” reality of what’s going on which only helps the movie thematically hit us with it’s Lovecraftian vibes.
The last 15 minutes of the movie had me constantly going “My God”, “No way”, or some variation/combination of the same. I can count on one hand how many movies have made me feel that way.
TLDR: In the Mouth of Madness, is a thought provoking cerebral masterpiece, that will have you questioning your grasp on reality.
Final Rating: 10/10. 10’s are already rare. This is one of the few movies I’d rate higher if I could. I know I’ll go back and re-watch this movie- mainly because the third act necessitates it.
Watch this movie if you enjoy Lovecraft or you enjoy movies that force you to think- where the fear comes from the implication of what’s being suggested more than the (still scary) visual phenomena.
Go to Page 2 for my spoiler-full thoughts!