Film Review: HOWARD LOVECRAFT AND THE FROZEN KINGDOM (2016)

HOWARD LOVECRAFT AND THE FROZEN KINGDOM (2016) is based on the graphic novel written by Bruce Brown (Jack and the Zombie Box) and with art by Renzo Podesta (Twenty Seven).

The story follows a young Howard Lovecraft voiced by Kiefer O’Reilly, as he is transported into a frozen world while reading the Necronomicon. He encounters eldritch being called Thu Thu Hmong aka Spot aka Cthulhu voiced by the film’s producer Sean Patrick O’Reilly. The two go on a quest to thaw out the frozen kingdom of Rayleigh by retrieving an ancient book. Yup this is a family project folks and it painfully shows.

The heart-breaking part of this disaster is that the graphic novels are very well done and fun for all ages. Sadly, with all the liberties and changes made by Sean Patrick O’Reilly it loses all its charm and sense of adventure. Howard goes from being a wide eyed expressive kid to a lobotomized Tim Burton character clone. The dull character and Kiefer O’Reilly’s (The producer’s son) bored voice acting is the biggest downfall of the movie. Howard is dropped in a fantasy world to go on an epic quest with a giant monster and he sounds like he has been sent to the corner to stare at the wall. But hey why get a young voice actor when you can put your kid in the movie?

The film’s writer, producer and director is the voice of “Spot” (Cthulhu) and it’s just bad. Unlike the graphic novel Spot talks in third person and sounds like someone doing a half asleep Conan impression. Michelle O’Reilly (another producer and Kiefer’s mother) plays Lovecraft’s mother Sarah and she is about as good at emoting as the rest of the family. The celebrities they got involved Ron Perlman, Doug Bradley, Jane Curtin and Christopher Plummer do not add much of anything to this film or their characters. You wouldn’t know that because most of the advertising and the entirety of the 3 minute making of was “look at all the celebrities we got”.

However, we do have the incredible Tyler Nicol (28 Geeks Later) who goes above and beyond as Winfield Lovecraft. He should have been in this more to help keep the audience awake. I do understand that to make this film hit feature length they needed to add to the graphic novel but the amount of useless filler and dialogue that goes nowhere is ridiculous. The changes made to the story do nothing but ruin a fun adventure. The graphic is enjoyable because it brings many of Lovecraft’s story ideas together. There is a cult very much like the one in Shadow over Innsmouth ruled by King Abdul (a reference to Abdul Alhazred) where the towns people have been imprisoned for angering the gods. Howard has to get a book from Dagon himself to help free them. In the movie the kingdom is run by a sorceress Algid Bunk with an army of goblins, and an envoy who is supposed to be Nyarlathotep (going into how this makes no sense would take too long). He goes to collect the book from The Shoggoth voiced by Ron Perlman. After watching the scene Im 90% sure they confused Shogoth with Yogsothoth. So instead of having story ideas that tie directly in with Lovecraft’s work we have mess of misplaced film/book quotes and characters that barely make sense.

I could go on and on about it but I have nitpicked enough. The animation is cheap buy not awful. The character designs are nothing special and clearly “Burton inspired”. In conclusion this a cheaply made family project that could have been saved by following the source material, hiring experienced voice actors for all the roles and not wasting the budget on Ron Perlman (as much as I love that man’s voice) talking for five minutes. This isn’t just a bad Lovecraft film but a bad film in general. Spend the money on the graphic novel instead.

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Author: Madeline Milden

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