The Oregon coast is a wild, rugged place of beauty and danger--and the unsettling backdrop for the film version of H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu. Creepy and unsettling things lie just beyond view in the picturesque fictional town of Rivermouth (actually Astoria, where the film was shot entirely on location). For those who take solace in visiting the seaside, the film is even more unsettling. The story is based on Lovecraft's novella The Shadow Over Innsmouth, though the script takes a few liberties, including making the lead character, Russ (Jason Cottle) gay--which in a small insular town can be a quiet horror show of its own. Russ is called back from the big city to Rivermouth after the death of his mother to be executor of her estate. While there he meets up with his best friend from school, and sparks fly. But there's a dark thread running through the reunion, as Russ learns he's but the latest to be affected by a particularly gruesome form of a family curse. "My son," Russ's father intones--and not in that good way, "this is your rightful place." The film is uniformly well acted (including Tori Spelling as a townie with a really perverted side; when she says, "I'm not going to die without you," you might want to start running), and the scares and shocks more than a little unnerving. Cthulhu takes its rightful place alongside Jaws as the film that won't make you feel safe to go back in the ocean. --A.T. Hurley
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