Before he was an iconic horror writer that every horror buff emulated, HP Lovecraft was a young boy named Howard whose imagination kept him company in 1897. After visiting his father in an asylum and consoling him for suffering delusions about monsters and beasts, Howard’s mother gives him his father’s journal to read for fun. Little does Howard know that his father’s journal, which happens to be the Necronomicon, is a portal to a magical world where Howard makes friends with a lot of creatures, all of which are not as they seem. There he makes friends with a squid faced monster that becomes his loyal guard, and has to face a monstrous being known as the Shoggoth in hopes of stopping an unusual queen who wants the Necronomicon.
Director Sean Patrick O’Reilly does his best to broaden Lovecraft’s creations, even making Howard’s Cthulhu beast in to something of a loyal animal named Spot, and there’s even a joyous mention of Dagon. There are also some neat Easter eggs, including the mention of Howard’s psychiatrist whose name is Dr. West. I’m admittedly not much of a scholar on HP Lovecraft, so I’m sure director and writer O’Reilly included loads of little Easter Eggs and nods to Lovecraft and fiction inspired by the author that I completely missed. In either case, “Howard Lovecraft” is a serviceable animated movie aimed squarely toward Lovecraft aficionados and those that want to introduce their children to the author’s wild array of monsters and beasts.
There’s also a very good supporting cast including horror regulars like Doug Bradley, Ron Perlman, Christopher Plummer, and comedian Jane Curtin, respectively. “Howard Lovecraft” is adapted from the graphic novel from Arcana and offers up something of a fantasy version of HP Lovecraft’s childhood, reducing his horrifying Gothic monsters in to something of a whimsical lot of cartoon sidekicks; though they’re more in the arena of Tim Burton with computer animation reminiscent of the stop motion from Laika Studios. The animation leaves a lot to be desired as the intended whimsy and fantasy doesn’t match the sometimes jerky animation. Not to mention a lot of the details go in to the creatures and not much seems to go in to the Frozen Kingdom which, often times, is featureless ice and snow.
While imperfect, “Frozen Kingdom” is a solid animated film with potential to be great. It can also serve as a neat introduction course for budding Lovecraft fanatics. The release from Shout! Comes with a DVD and Digital copy, and it features an audio commentary by Sean Patrick O’Reilly, who provides in depth explanations about the animation process, historical accuracies, sequels and more. O’Reilly hosts a brief Behind the Scenes segment sans cast interviews, and finally, there’s the original trailer for “Howard Lovecraft.”