RogerBW's Blog

Dagon (2001) 06 May 2022

2001 horror, dir. Stuart Gordon, Ezra Godden, Francisco Rabal: IMDb / allmovie. No one leave Imboca. People come, but no one leave.

It's another Lovecraftian film involving several of the same crew, but I find this rather better than Re-Animator… at least for its first half, and that's probably because it's based on a better story (The Shadow Over Innsmouth) and doesn't try to be a comedy. Yes, we get more gratuitous breasts; but the effects are kept under control, and there's a genuine sense of tension and danger as our hero Paul goes from just-sold-out tech millionaire to human prey over the space of a few hours. Particularly when he looks out of his hotel window to see the mob gathering, and has to get away from them, there's a feeling of fear and urgency that's what I want out of a horror film.

And then there's the mid-film flashback explaining how this Spanish Innsmouth got the way it is, and after that it's much more action horror, with gore effects and a frankly gratuitous flaying. Yeah, we get it, and I at least am not here to dwell on the nastiness. (Maybe this makes me a bad horror fan. Well, I do think I regard horror stories more from an SF-reader's perspective, treating the threat as a problem to be understood and solved rather than wallowing in the suffering of the characters.)

The relative lack of interest in the second half isn't helped by one character saying, correctly, exactly what's going to happen in the rest of the film, when we still have twenty minutes to go to the end credits. The one heroic thing Paul could actually do, to keep his promise to kill his girlfriend after the Bad Thing has happened to her, he doesn't even attempt. (It wouldn't have made things any better for him, but it would have helped her.)

There are some excellent moments even in that second half: a scuffle in a half-flooded house is thoroughly atmospheric. But to my taste the finale relies too much for its appeal on nudity and gore rather than on character.

As usual if you want more of my witterings you should listen to Ribbon of Memes.

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