If you know me, or have been following my site since the beginning, you probably have come to realize that I’m a bit obsessed with H.P. Lovecraft. I love the mythology and lore that Lovecraft has created as well as his ability to create terrifying universes within his stories. There are have been many adaptations of Lovecraft’s stories, most notably “The Call of Cthulhu” and as far as I know these adaptations, whether they be film, stories, games, etc, are created by men in the horror genre. When I found out that Izzy Lee, a female horror director, was adapting her own version of Lovecraft’s “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” I pretty much lost my mind in the best way possible. If you are not familiar with the Lovecraft story “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” here’s a brief synopsis:
“’The Shadow Over Innsmouth’ is a short novel about a weird hybrid race of humans and creatures resembling a cross between a fish and a frog, which lives in the seaside village of Innsmouth.”
Before we get into the review of Izzy Lee’s INNSMOUTH, I want to say that I’m actually quite glad she didn’t stick with the original story, but took aspects of it and made it into her own. Lovecraft stories are notoriously hard to recreate so I give Lee a lot of credit for taking on such a project.
“Innsmouth” is about Detective Diana Olmstead (Diana Porter), who upon arriving at the scene of a crime, notices mysterious egg sacs on the deceased victim. While looking for clues as to how the victim died, Detective Olmstead comes across a picture of the deceased, with a friend, in the town of Innsmouth. Taking this as a clue, Detective Olmstead heads to Innsmouth, where she comes face-to-face with Alice Marsh (Tristan Risk) and learns the deadly secrets of the town of Innsmouth.
Let’s start this review off with the acting. I have seen Tristan Risk in many things: AMERICAN MARY, MANIA, HARVEST LAKE, but I truly felt like INNSMOUTH was one of her best films. From the moment she stepped on screen, I was sold on her as Alice Marsh. I may be partial because I am familiar with Risk’s work outside of acting, but if there is anyone that should be in a Lovecraftian film, it’s Tristan Risk. There is something about Risk that is tantalizing and mysterious (if also a bit dangerous) that allows her to seduce viewers and make them feel safe – before unleashing the beast within. I’ve seen her do this in other films and I think it works perfectly in INNSMOUTH. Diana Porter, who played Detective Diana Olmstead, also shined in the film. I liked seeing Porter go from playing someone who was tough-as-nails to someone who was completely under the spell of someone else. I appreciated seeing the versatility and the change happening on the screen.
There are a lot of things that I enjoyed about this short film. I think Izzy Lee did such a tremendous job making this story her own; however, I wish I could have seen more of her interpretation of the story. I would have loved to have known more about Alice Marsh or what was happening to the towns’ people, or what would happen upon the egg sacs exploding, but I understand that with a short film you can only do so much. I would really love to see this story get fleshed out a bit more, and who knows, maybe someday there will be a chance for this short to unfold into a feature length film! Regardless, I was really impressed with INNSMOUTH. The acting was solid, the makeup was incredibly detailed, and the set design reminded me of when I spent summers as a kid in Newport and Providence, RI (Lovecraft was from Providence, RI so double points for feelings of nostalgia and home). Lastly, I applaud director Izzy Lee for having the main cast be females. Lovecraft is infamous for barely having any females in his stories and if he does, they are not strong characters. I feel like Lee’s choice to make the cast (with the exception of one male) female was an FU to Lovecraft and one that I think is brilliant and justifiable.
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed INNSMOUTH from start to finish. Though I wish I could have seen more of the story played out, it still definitely quenched my Lovecraftian thirst. I’m excited to see more of what director Izzy Lee does in the future and if you get the chance to see INNSMOUTH do so, you won’t be disappointed!