*. I usually begin these notes by saying something about sources, and that seems to me to be an interesting, if not very enlightening, place to start here.
*. The DVD box cover tells us Feed the Light won the prize for best feature film at the H. P. Lovecraft film festival and is “based on a story by H. P. Lovecraft.” It doesn’t say which story.
*. If you watch the short interview with director and co-writer Henrik Möller that’s included with the DVD then you learn that the source or inspiration was “The Colour Out of Space.” This is nice to know, because if there is any relation between “The Colour Out of Space” and Feed the Light I’m not sure what it is. Without being given a heads-up, I don’t think even the biggest Lovecraft nerd could make the connection.
*. “The Colour Out of Space” is about a meteorite that crashes in a farmer’s field, releasing a vampiric mist of an unearthly hue. After laying waste a patch of countryside and driving mad the farmer and his family the alien force (mostly) goes back into space.
*. It’s a story that’s actually been filmed several times, as Die, Monster, Die! (1965), the segment “The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill” from Creepshow (1982), The Curse (1987), Colour from the Dark (2008), and Die Farbe (2010). The last named is a German adaptation considered by at least one Lovecraft expert to be the best Lovecraft film adaptation ever made. It is shot mainly in black and white, except for the alien force itself, which is in colour. That may have been the biggest inspiration for Feed the Light, which is also in black and white except for splashes of blood and the unearthing of the light at the end.
*. For whatever reason, Lovecraft has proven to be a difficult author to take from page to screen, though not from lack of trying. I’ve mentioned this before (see, for example, my notes on Necronomicon). Most of the best-known adaptations have been very loose indeed. So in that respect at least Feed the Light is in good company.
*. The bottom line is that the film never explains what is going on anyway. Apparently, after initially being planned as a short, the script was developed as a much bigger project that would have provided the foundation for a miniseries. Möller then did some radical pruning and left us almost entirely in the dark. He says in his DVD interview that the idea was to have the alien light being used as a power source, like a battery, to operate the underground warehouse, but that it then begins being worshipped as a god. There is no evidence for this in the film, and indeed I don’t see where it even makes any sense out of what we do have.
*. Of course, none of this has anything to do with Lovecraft. In Lovecraft, to take just one example, people get sick from what seems to be a kind of radiation poisoning. Here they age at a faster rate because time operates differently underground.
*. I call it a warehouse because that’s the word used in the film itself as well as what Möller calls it. I wonder if there’s some problem with translation. This is obviously not a warehouse.
*. Another thing I said is that the use of black-and-white and colour was probably inspired by Die Farbe. It also made me think of The Human Centipede II, another movie, like this, that was shot in colour and then converted to black-and-white, with blood and other elements showing up in colour.
*. Things start out on a familiar note. A jumpy sequence throws us into the action in a way that may be meant to disorient us. Then we get some horror clichés: the hand-on-the-shoulder jump scare, the flickering fluorescent lights. It’s a shaky start.
*. After this things settle down a bit though, and it becomes easier to enter into the spirit of things. The narrative spine (and that’s really all it is) takes the form of an allegorical journey into the underworld, or multidimensional labyrinth, in order to save a soul (Sara’s daughter). Simple stuff, but it gives Möller something to riff on. Even when we get the dog-man’s leaky rectum scene we can still feel like we’re holding on to something.
*. Speaking of holding on to things, Sara seems to drop her string an awful lot. I don’t see how she manages to get back out.
*. Saying there’s a narrative spine (or thread) is about all you can say about the story though. There’s not much here. What is actually going on in the “warehouse” is left obscure, even to the point of not knowing who the good guys really are. About halfway through I started wondering if they could have made this as a silent movie. What would we miss?
*. Obviously there was no budget whatsoever, but there are still a few interesting moments and Lina Sundén is really very good as Sara. Finally, as I was watching it I was reminded of The Void, another vaguely Lovecraftian horror film that came out a couple of years later. Basically these are experimental horror films that see what they can do just by playing around with a minimal plot and weird effects. As such there are a lot of sketchy parts, but overall I think both films are better than you might expect.