The influence of H.P. Lovecraft in the realm of horror cinema is never too far off in the distance. Even in the golden era of slashers in the ‘80s, when sorority girls and masked killers were all the rage, Providence’s favorite son was still casting a shadow through the works of Stuart Gordon and Brian Yuzna and leaving an impact that was as gooey as ever. But despite having inexplicable goo and tentacles (and racism) as his most recognizable trademark, there are a few elements of ol’ Howard’s style that aren’t used quite as heavily as these visceral ones. Rodrigo Gudano’s latest effort The Breach, based on the novel of the same name by Nick Cutter, attempts to weave some of those elements in with the more recognizable ones.
The Breach opens with a grisly discovery on an abandoned canoe on the Porcupine River. Police chief John Hawkins quickly finds himself in the middle of a mystery involving an impossibly mangled corpse and a missing child, and it only gets stranger from there. The Breach turns into something of a small-town noir mystery, with just enough classic H.P. weirdness to get across the finish line. The film stumbles at times, mostly with its clunky love triangle storyline, but overall, it’s a solid effort. There’s an almost tasteful restraint when it comes to goop for much of the film, but when Gudano opens the floodgates at the end fans of Society-style bizarreness will be more than pleased. A point could be made that the film tends to meander at times, although honestly, it’s nothing that takes away from the experience as whole. The performances, particularly that of Natalie Brown, are more than enough to have us invested in the characters and to root for them to avoid whatever horrifying fate awaits them in the attic.
An element of Lovecraftian fiction that this film at least attempts to inject into is the concept of science grappling with the seemingly impossible. A lot of Lovecraft’s work deals with scientists being confronted by something that should not exist and attempting (and usually failing) to explain/live with it. The Breach almost gets there, with a lot of the drama in the second act revolving around a man that by all rights should not be alive, but it doesn’t quite lean into the concept as I wish it had. Which is fine: perhaps that was the filmmaker’s intention. Either way, it’s commendable that this element of Lovecraft was at least hinted at rather than ignored in favor of just most grotesqueness.
The Breach isn’t going to blow anyone’s socks off, but by no means is it a terrible film. Or even a bad one. It’s exactly what it wants to be, and that’s fine. If you’re looking for a tense and slightly gross movie to watch when it comes out, I highly recommend it. And if you’re a fan of Stuart Gordon and Brian Yuzna and the effects work of Screaming Mad George, I absolutely suggest you check this film out.