Monday, March 27, 2023


Frankly, I'm getting pretty weary of so-called "found footage" films. Vertiginous hand-held cameras, flash cuts at the speed of light and terrifying screams on a blank screen have all been -- if I might say so -- done to death. Ever since THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, the rather dull movie with the ambiguous ending, there has been countless rip-offs "in the spirit of", some of which have even made a lot of money. Since there are only a handful of drive-in theaters left that once dotted the country from coast to coast, I consider these to be -- along with the slasher -- the new form of movie designed to get your girlfriend to jump in your lap.

The latest in this bargain-basement budget filmmaking phenomenon is an H.P. Lovecraft-inspired exercise in what looks like another group of young and naive (and probably just plain stupid) 20-somethings who stumble into another confrontation with cosmic horror (see trailer below). And much like the old saying, "You can't fool Mother Nature", you certainly can't survive facing off with The Great Old Ones. There's just no defeating omnipotence with naïveté.

Following is a brief explanation of the cosmic horror genre. In the meantime, while there are exceptions, Lovecraft's stories remain virtually unfilmable (one of the best exceptions I've seen is THE H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society's 2005 THE CALL OF CTHULHU). I'm waiting for Guillermo Del Toro to prove me and everyone else wrong.

Cosmic Horror: The Terrifying Sub-Genre, Explained
Lovecraftian horror aka "cosmic horror" is a genre of fiction that is having something of a renaissance on the big screen. But what exactly is it?

By Emmett O'Regan | March 16, 2023 |
The release of director Robbie Banfitch’s The Outwaters has the cosmic horror subgenre permeating the discourse of movie fandom once again. The subgenre has a rich history in the annals of scary moviedom throughout history. But it prompts the questions: What exactly is cosmic horror? What are the tenants and key elements that make a horror movie part of the cosmic horror subgenre?

The term “cosmic horror” is often used in tandem with Lovecraftian horror, or stories that take inspiration from the author H.P. Lovecraft. Much of the tropes of cosmic horror find their origin in Lovecraft’s work and his Cthulhu Mythos. Naturally, there are works of similarly inclined horror that predate Lovecraft, like Robert W. Chambers’ The King In Yellow. Chambers’ book is a series of interlocking short stories that revolve around the manuscript of a play that turns its readers insane.

What Are The Main Themes of Cosmic Horror?
While the mythology of Cthulhu or the play in The King in Yellow are necessary hallmarks in the evolution of the subgenre, they are primarily invocations of cosmic horror’s core themes: The terrifying insignificance and inability to comprehend the uncaring, cast, and indescribably powerful forces of the universe. It’s the fear of the unknown, and the relatively immaterial nature of humanity’s place in existence when compared to time, space, and even superior intelligences.

These themes often manifest themselves in the mental deterioration of cosmic horror stories' main characters. When confronted with power beyond the limited grasp of human intellectualism or physical understanding, the mind can do nothing but break. Cosmic horror is watching all notions of reality, truth, and even material existence unravel beyond recognition.

What Separates Cosmic Horror From Other Kinds of Horror?
Cosmic horror has wound its way into the fabric of all kinds and styles of horror movie storytelling. It can and continues to be interpreted in numerous ways, but the most important elements of its genre remain the same. Humanity occupies a tiny place in the universe -- a place so fragile and worthless when compared to the incredible forces that reside in the very DNA of space and time. It also lends to the possibility of monstrous god-like creatures that can transcend those very frameworks.

Horror has a way of digging into the deeply rooted fears that worm their way into every audience member’s mind. Some of those fears are emotional and comparatively small, speaking to specific experiences like grief or trauma. Others refer to grander, all-encompassing fears like the end of the world, or death in general.

Cosmic horror, though, is special. It underlines the looming existential threat that perhaps death, grief, tragedy, even fear itself, mean nothing to the infinite powers of the universe. That is a truly horrifying thought.


  1. I'm a big fan of Trollhunter, which I consider the best of these kinds of movies that I've encountered, the muddled Blair Witch included. This one looks pretty dreary.

  2. Trollhunter is one of those exceptions; it was pretty good.


Greetings, monster lover! Thank you for leaving a comment at WORLD OF MONSTERS!.

NOTICE! Comments containing advertising or hyperlinks that take readers off this page will be deleted. Comments for posts older than five (5) days are moderated.