Cosmic horror: the genre that evades explanation.
It isn’t that it can’t be defined - rather that, at its core, the main theme surrounding cosmic horror is the unknown. Things so alien and far away from life on Earth that if a person were to view them, it would drive them insane.
This isn’t an “invaders from Mars” level of horror – this is an unfathomable aberration from another dimension.
Cosmic horror is also sometimes referred to as Lovecraftian Horror. H. P. Lovecraft was an American writer in the early 20th century who gave this strange, previously-unnamed genre widespread popularity.
Over the years, the genre has evolved with the times, shining light on the horrors that lie just out of our reach. Whether it’s set in deep space, or at the bottom of the sea, the common theme is an unexplainable or unfathomable horror.
The films in this list manage to do justice to this notoriously tricky genre: from dessert UFO death cults, to a deadly mist crawling with creatures, these films will plant a fear into your brain that will be hard to shift.
Read on, but be warned: once you know the truth, it might just drive you mad.
10. In the Mouth of Madness
is the third installment in John Carpenter’s Apocalypse Trilogy, which also
includes The Thing and Prince of Darkness. Both these movies are cosmic horror
classics in their own right, but no film pays homage to the genre’s
Lovecraftian roots like In the Mouth of Madness.
Imagine that H. P. Lovecraft was a pulp horror novelist in the ‘90s that could bring about the apocalypse, and you’d be on the right track.
If The Thing explores body horror and the loss of our physical self, and Prince of Darkness delves into cults and the loss of our stable mind, then In the Mouth of Madness takes us to the next logical conclusion of cosmic horror – reality itself falling prey to extradimensional forces.
The insanity of the situation is contrasted with Sam Neill’s insurance investigator, John Trent. Trent acts as the skeptic throughout the film who is forced to the realisation that an impossible apocalypse is befalling the world.
The film displays classic Lovecraftian themes and motifs: the New England setting, gothic structures such as a black Byzantine church, and monstrous beings taking claim over humanity. Even the name of the film and the fictional book within it is a reference to one of Lovecraft’s works, At the Mountains of Madness.
wraps up Lovecraftian horror in a neat package and finishes off the Apocalypse
Trilogy with its only logical conclusion: the end of the world.