Russ (Jason Cottle) is a college professor who left his small town home in part because his family was unaccepting of his homosexuality. He hasn’t been back in years, but when his mother dies, he returns for the funeral. Russ’ father, Reverend Marsh (Dennis Kleinsmith), still holds out hope that his son will switch teams and give him an heir. It’s not just the usual issues between gay offspring and their disapproving parents that come between Russ and his dad, though. The religious sect Reverend Marsh leads, The Esoteric Order of Dagon, worships a strange alien deity named Cthulhu and is more than a little on the cultish side. As Russ waits around for the reading of his mother’s will, he reconnects with his old friend Mike (Scott Green). The two did some sexual experimenting as kids, and although Mike is now married with children, something of the old connection remains. But relationship issues get put on the back burner as Russ begins investigating the mysterious disappearances and other weird occurrences in town.
Cthulhu is based on the short stories of H. P. Lovecraft, in particular The Shadow Over Inssmouth. Director/co-writer Dan Gildark does a good job bringing the sense of dread that permeates Lovecraft’s tales to the screen, both in the look of his film and with little background touches like the TV and radio broadcasts reporting on a world falling into chaos. The gay aspect of the story, something Lovecraft would never have touched on, is nonetheless integrated well. This is not a “gay” movie. It’s just a movie whose main character happens to be gay. There is a subtext about how some gay people have to make a painful choice between family or being true to themselves, but that’s only there if you’re looking beneath the surface. The horror aspects of Cthulhu are subtle as well. It’s perhaps a little too vague at times for its own good, but overall I found it to be a refreshing change of pace from the usual modern horror fare. ***.