John Carpenter’s “In the Mouth of Madness” is a distinctly frustrating experience. For all of its strengths (of which there are several), it’s consistently held back from greatness by poor acting and choppy editing. Its narrative is fascinating, in particular for horror fans, as it weaves the literary horror of both Stephen King and H.P. Lovecraft into its own fabric, consistently appealing to fans without ripping off either maestros. However, in the lead role, Sam Neill makes for a piss-poor choice as protagonist, with a stiff performance that pushes his character firmly into laughable territory, while co-star Julie Carmen seems, at best, half awake for the duration of the movie. It’s a damn shame, because Carpenter’s direction is strong and lucid here, managing to create two separate frames of reality often within the same shot, but between the weak acting and borderline-nonsensical editing, it’s a flawed masterpiece at best.
Rating: ★★★ (out of 5)