By Tim Murr
Ten minutes is barely enough time for some films’ opening credits to run, much less properly set up the first act. Writer/director Izzy Lee deftly creates a three-act story in just minutes that feels every bit as complete and satisfying as a full-length feature. Her new film Innsmouth takes a police procedural and drops it into Lovecraftian horror. The result is truly something to behold.
Starring Tristan Risk (American Mary) and Diana Porter, Innsmouth opens with a bizarre murder investigation: a dead woman with her throat ripped out and a weird egg sac on her back. The lead detective (Porter) is quick to find a connection between the woman and the island of Innsmouth, to which she travels from Arkham (both locations will be well known to fans of HP Lovecraft). Soon upon her arrival, the detective falls into the hands of a strange cult headed by Alice Marsh (Tristan Risk). From there, the real meat of the story begins—and it’s well worth your time.
Lee does something that Lovecraft would probably have hated and that’s make the cast almost all women. Anyone who reads Lovecraft knows there are several bitter pills one must swallow like, his misogyny, to get to the good stuff. This tendency generally manifests itself in the sheer lack of female characters. There’s also his racism, which is sometimes so shockingly blunt (as in Herbert West: Re-Animator) that one might question if keeping his work alive is worth it. Then there’s his xenophobia, which combined with the above, paints the picture of a very sad, sick mind, one possessed by genius and diseased by hate. Therefore, we have to applaud artists like Izzy Lee who redeem this material, because it is really good.
The original story The Shadow Over Innsmouth bears very little resemblance to this short film, other than its otherworldliness and the geographical connection of Arkham to neighboring Innsmouth. The story is part of the Cthulu mythos and in terms of that Innsmouth is an easy fit and does nothing to betray the source material. Although, I’d love to be able to watch that ending with old HP to see his reaction!
Another thing I really appreciate about Innsmouth is that it’s not a period piece as some other recent adaptations have been. I understand the desire for authenticity, but Innsmouth is more relatable and less corny. I’d love to see Lee tackle longer descents into weird horror and I especially want to see more of Tristan Risk’s Alice Marsh.
Innsmouth is now streaming on Shudder.