In the Mouth of Madness (1995)

in the mouth of madness poster 1995 movie
7.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Interesting story as its basis

The story is unnecessarily complicated through a non-linear telling

Movie Info

Movie Name:   In the Mouth of Madness

Studio:   New Line Cinema

Genre(s):   Horror

Release Date(s):   February 3, 1995

MPAA Rating:   R

in the mouth of madness hallways sam neill julie carmen

Read the words…go crazy

John Trent (Sam Neill) has been hired to bring in the international horror best-selling writer Sutter Cane (Jürgen Prochnow) for his agent Jack Harglow (Charlton Heston) as a strange madness begins to spread through the population.  Teamed with Harglow’s assistant Linda Styles (Julie Carmen), John tracks Sutter to an unmapped town named Hobb’s End.  Linda and John begin to realize that Hobb’s End has secrets…and many of them seem to be the subject of Sutter’s books.  Finding Sutter might not be difficult, but John learns leaving Hobb’s End could drive him over the edge.

Directed by John Carpenter, In the Mouth of Madness is a horror film and considered part of Carpenter’s Apocalypse Trilogy which includes The Thing (1982) and Prince of Darkness (1987).  The film was released to mixed reviews and a below average box office performance.

I love horror, but for some reason In the Mouth of Madness never really interested me when it was released.  I can remember the marketing and the commercials but never cared that much to see the movie.  Watching it over twenty years later, the movie has its moments but also has problems.

in the mouth of madness linda styles monster julie carmen

No…I’m good…just need to see a chiropractor

I find the film’s structural problems to be the film’s undoing.  The movie starts with Neill institutionalized so it becomes a retelling of the story to his doctor David Warner.  The story within a story then has some other “within a story” moments and the layering doesn’t always work.  The twists end up tying it up in knots and the basic story of a book that drives people mad seems lost because I felt I knew that long before the movie explained it.

The cast is rather strong led by Sam Neill who gets to play a straight hardboiled detective and an insane patient.  Julie Carmen is kind of underdeveloped as Neill’s sidekick (if she even existed) and most of the supporting cast including David Warner, Jürgen Prochnow, John Glover, Bernie Casey, Peter Jason, and Charlton Heston are underused.  The movie also features an extremely young Hayden Christensen in what some could argue was a more believable role as a paperboy than as Anakin Skywalker.

in the mouth of madness demons tunnel

We’re coming to get you!

There are some great visuals in the movie like the monstrous creations in Hobb’s End (like the Julie Carmen monster scene).  The movie was noted for being very “Lovecraftian” with references to H.P. Lovecraft’s stories throughout the movie and even pokes fun at Stephen King who Sutter Cane is supposed to resemble (though it is said he’s better than King in the movie).

In the Mouth of Madness feels almost there.  If it had been better streamlined, it would have been a good and scary movie along the lines of Jacob’s Ladder, but the movie’s psychological aspect is all muddled and loses its impact…relying almost solely on the horror scenes for scares.  In the Mouth of Madness is frustrating in that it almost works (kind of some of the same problems I had with Prince of Darkness).  It isn’t madness, it is just kind of kooky.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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