The Last Case Of August T. Harrison (2015)

Renowned curmudgeon and author HP Lovecraft is dead and, unlike many other popular franchise creators in a similar situation, his works are in the public domain. It’s a mythos that you can have great fun with so writer/director Ansel Faraj decided to make a genre-bending movie based that asks two important questions: “what if Lovecraft wrote about things that are real” and “what is a father was coming to terms with his son being…. an artist!”

Fun Fact: HP Lovecraft would have loved the New Romantics

The father in question is August T. Harrison, played by the perfectly cast Jerry Lacy. He’s a retired PI who gets called in for the titular final case by his openly artistic son, Jason. Jerry does an amazing job of a father who respects his child’s decision to paint, even if he doesn’t fully understand it, and it sets the tone of a man trying to come to terms with a world he can’t quite come to terms with. To try and bond with his son he goes looking for Drake, another artist whos gone missing for either 3 days or 3 weeks depending on who he talks to.

Lots of this, which to be fair the scenic shots often look really pretty in a lowkey way

August travels through a world of exposition and two camera set-ups, making sure that we get all the weird science and eldritch secrets needed to understand exactly where this is all inevitably going. August handles all this with a world-weariness and grim determination, trying not to visibly tut at the youngsters dabbling in abstracts, performance art, interdimensional physics, and things mortal man was not meant to know about. Mostly he nods, smiles, and accepts people’s career choices even if he doesn’t understand why they scrawled Elder Signs all over their faces.

“Wow…. that smells horrific!”

A sense of dread tries to be built up through all of this but fails to manifest because we get August’s monologue from after the case is closed, a decision presumably based on the wish to stick to the classic gumshoe tropes as much as possible. It’s mostly uninspiring stuff due to the low budget and dull direction, but Lacy pulls things along as well as he can. The rest of the cast get through their lines just fine, occasionally mustering something akin to drama.

“We saw you across the dancefloor and we really like your energy

Things pick up once HP Lovecraft (Nathan Wilson) turns up, and both the PI and Lovecraft cliches get put aside for five minutes of nicely meta-fictional post-modern weirdness. It’s not the most original of ideas, but it brings the second act to a spirited close, as Lovecraft warns August that everything he wrote about was a warning of actual threats to mankind (and not simply a collection of bigotry and phobias). There’s an end, a twist, and then a reconciliation between him and his son (although no news if he will ever put down the acrylic paint and get a real job).

“I kept asking myself; had I left the gas on?”

Somewhere in all of this is a film that, with a bit more work and a lot less self-congratulatory belief, could be turned into something good. The ideas are workable, and the themes are interesting, but those by themselves don’t make something like this watchable. It didn’t need a lot more money to keep it out of the Trash can, what it needed were dynamic moments, interesting characters (not characteristics) and a script that wasn’t info dumps and voiceovers. Without those, it just becomes a constant fight for the viewer to give a damn about anyone involved and thus stay engaged with the plot. So rather than being cosmic horror, it becomes everyday tedium, and we become the tormented souls caught by it.

The Raggedyman

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s