You'll swallow this whole!
This is one of John Carpenter’s darkest, most maniacal and most demented films. You can tell he was fully invested. Michael De Luca, screenwriter, comes up with a tale so deep and layered it feels like a novel adaptation. This is a complex story, yes, but never at the expense of clarity. It’s a mindfuck. It’s anachronic. It’s ominous. What’s more, the threat exists before the story even begins.
One of the reasons this movie works so well is that it’s told on two levels. First, there's a procedural that is, in appearance, logical and concrete. Intertwined are terrifying hallucinations that only slow the hero down. If these elements didn’t culminate, this film would fail. Trust the makers. It all pays off. This recipe creates some of the creepiest moments in horror cinema history.
Horror, fantasy and adventure rarely blend so well. This is one of the few exceptions. Nothing in this film feels stereotyped. The jump scares aren’t abusive. The ambiance is thick. Though the actors give it all they have, the weakest link, here, is character exposition. The characters are cold, impersonal, conflictual. But they are at the image of their new world; one inspired by Lovecraft.