THE THING ON THE DOORSTEP – A Vision Realized

THE THING ON THE DOORSTEP-A Vision Realized by Blood E. Bastard

 

I have often stated that the horror genre is, in many ways, a great equalizer. Regardless of age, ethnicity or social status, horror films can be a shared passion for so many people. I always look forward to meeting with my fellow staffers at Horror News Network – we are a group of people from various walks of life who simply love horror and genuinely want to share that love with others in fandom.

Some take that overwhelming enthusiasm to the next level by making their own films to add to the collective body of work. And while the quality of such works can run the gamut from masterpiece to just plain shit, I would say that in the case of 95% of these films, the creator is proud of what they have accomplished.

I recently watched The Thing on the Doorstep which is based on a short story of the same name by H.P. Lovecraft. This film is a perfect example of ‘labor of love’ filmmaking.

Directed by Tom Gliserman, it is currently making the rounds at various film festivals around the world including Shreikfest, Necronomicon and The H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival.

The film, like the short story, begins with a narration:

“It is true that I have just sent six bullets through the head of my best friend, and yet I hope to show by this statement that I am not his murderer.”

The story concerns Daniel Upton (David Bunce) and his ne’re-do-well childhood friend Edward Derby (Rob Dalton). Edward has recently and suddenly become romantically involved with a mysterious woman named Asenath (played wonderfully by screenwriter Mary Jane Hansen). Daniel notices changes in Edward’s behavior that are a cause for concern. As he tries to get to the bottom of what is going on, reality itself begins to tear apart. Daniel himself must ward off utter insanity as he gets closer to the truth.

As a lifelong Lovecraft fan, I have regularly been disappointed by attempts to adapt his work to the screen. The failure usually lies in the fact that other filmmakers try to get at the work both literally and linearly.
The team behind The Thing on the Doorstep succeed where others have failed by approaching the work thematically first and story second. While Auteur Theory dictates that the director “owns” the end product, this film is clearly a well-orchestrated collaboration.

In her adaptation, Mary Jane Hansen effectively uses the source material to build a multilayered framework to support the other filmmaking elements. Lovecraft’s exact words run throughout the film in the form of Daniel’s narration, chronicling his efforts to solve this horrible mystery. Simultaneously, there is a narrative plot driving the story at an often frenzied pace.

Gliserman pulls all of the pieces together and layers them on top each other. While traditional narrative filmmaking is employed, segments of experimental imagery are appropriately brought in at the right time to demonstrate the otherworldly chaos of Lovecraft’s invading Cthulhu Mythos universe. For anything it lacks in “Hollywood” sets or production design, the film makes up for in overall atmosphere by use of tinting, film stocks, lighting and camera work.

Will Serevin (who also produced the film) wrote the score, which immediately grabbed my attention. It is both far superior to anything I have heard in such a limited budget film and it truly is the glue that keeps the dreary tone in the forefront of the viewer’s mind.

I would not dare try to speculate what Lovecraft himself would think of this or any adaptation of his work – mainly because he was both erratic and insane. However, as a student of his work, I would say to him…if given the chance: “They done you good Howard, they done you good.”

 

Chris Conway on Twitter
Chris Conway
Staff Writer at Horror News Network

Chris joined the Horror News Network staff in 2013. His favorite films include Halloween, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Let the Right One In.


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