Main cast: Kiefer O’Reilly (Howard Lovecraft/Davik), Michelle O’Reilly (Sarah Lovecraft), Christopher Plummer (Dr West), Tyler Nicol (Winfield Lovecraft), Alison Wandzura (Mary Lovecraft), Sean Patrick O’Reilly (Spot), Summer O’Reilly (Gotha), Phoenix O’Reilly (Twi’i), Harmony O’Reilly (Innes), Scott McNeil (Ice Goblin), Jane Curtin (Algid Bunk), Doug Bradley (The Envoy), and Ron Perlman (Shoggoth)
Director: Sean Patrick O’Reilly
Poor Howard Lovecraft. Just like the real life author whom this kid shares a name with (ahem), his father is in a loonybin for “nervous exhaustion”, and his mother Sarah is the kind who can’t accept that she has to raise the kid without a husband and has the brilliant idea of forcing the kid to visit his father in hopes of getting the man to be sane again. Is it any wonder that Howard is a sickly kid afraid of everything and anything?
On his father’s birthday, Sarah drags the reluctant boy to meet the man, and Mother of the Year proceeds to leave the boy alone with his father while chatting up the loonybin doctor Dr West (hmm, I wonder if Herbert is his first name). Howard is warned by his father to destroy something called the Necronomicon, and passes the boy what seems like a rune with a strange symbol. Back at home, Sarah passes Howard his father’s journal, which contains all kinds of stuff about Cthulhu and R’lyeh. He reads aloud the infamous prayer to Cthulhu, without understanding the implications, and woosh, a strange symbol appears on his bedroom floor. Out comes some purple shadowy tentacles and – oh no, this isn’t a Japanese cartoon, so none of that, oh please – our poor lad is dragged into a strange new place and, hence, new adventures.
I don’t know what to expect when I sit down to watch Howard Lovecraft and the Frozen Kingdom, but a cute chibi version of Cthulhu is not something I’d imagine ever. Worse, he’s called Spot by Howard, and Spot calls Howard “Master” and says things like “Friends… close…”. If I were a worshiper of the Eldritch beings, I’d have withered from second-hand embarrassment by now. Instead of anything resembling something from the real HP Lovecraft, I get a kiddie story in which we have a kid moving with Spot to save R’lyeh from being perpetually frozen by defeating the Shoggoth. Which doesn’t resemble the Shoggoth in any way, mind you, but by this point, it’s pretty evident that this animated film has nothing whatsoever to do with the actual source material. This and those source materials may share some same names, but that’s about it.
The animation, voice acting, and art quality are on the meh side, but to be fair, for what it is – a low budget effort – the whole thing is actually adequate. Everything is okay, and that’s the issue here: it’s just okay. “My Little Cthulhu” is actually a pretty cute premise, but sadly, the novelty wears off quickly as the whole thing settles to being a very ordinary, typical kiddie tale of zero to hero. It’s a bit too talky for its own good, especially since the conversations are reduced to a level to appeal to very young kids and hence this movie doesn’t have much to offer older members of the audience. I am hoping for some playful nods to older fans of HP Lovecraft, but for the most part, this one prefers to play it straight as an adventure movie aimed at kids. No scary stuff, no creepy moments, just some tame action scenes that are few and spaced mostly towards the tail end of the movie – this one is more cute than scary, and sadly, it’s also not very interesting.
Maybe I’m too old for this thing, or maybe I am a fan of the late Mr Lovecraft and I still am not sure what to make of this blasphemously cute and tame twist on the Cthulhu mythos. At any rate, I’d suggest watching Howard Lovecraft and the Frozen Kingdom for the novelty factor or because a kid demands you to, and keep some distraction like the mobile close to tide you through the boring bits.