In the Mouth of Madness

In the Mouth of Madness ★★★★

What came first, the fact or the fiction? Do the stories we tell reflect the world around us? Or are they the very things that shape our perception of reality?

From a less meta perspective, it's a question of free will, really. What happens when the ultimate cynic, the guy who sees all the angles and takes pride in exposing frauds, finds out that he's at the mercy of a higher power? That he's no longer in control of his own life. Does he begin to question if he ever really was? Does it drive him insane?

Or maybe it's just the story of a sane man who's driven mad by being forced to listen to The Carpenters.

Either way, it makes for a fun tale of Lovecraftian horror. And that story provides ample opportunity for one the cinema's great stylists to play around with reality-bending cinematic language. Carpenter's usual flare for fluid tracking shots and widescreen composition is ever-present. But this is the rare film where he really puts a greater emphasis on montage. Flashbacks, flash-forwards, ellipses, dreams-within-dreams-within-hallucinations, and all kinds of tricks of the editing trade are employed to bend the laws of time and space in increasingly surrealistic fashion. Pretty heady stuff for a director whose films tend to thrive more on immediacy than intellectual conceits.

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