For better or worse, H.P. Lovecraft remains in the realm of low budget filmmakers. Perhaps they are drawn to his creative scenarios and “out of the box” ideas. Or it is the fact that Lovecraft is a marketable name whose works are in public domain? Yeah, it is totally the latter. That doesn’t stop filmmakers from attempting to do their best with Lovecraft’s prose and it is how we end up with PICKMAN’S MUSE, the feature film debut from Robert Cappelletto that melds the two short stories “Pickman’s Model” and “The Haunter of the Dark.”
Naturally, there is some bad stuff as well. The acting – as in most low budget films – comes in peaks and valleys. Lead Barret Walz is good in the main role of the tortured artist. Alternately looking like Matthew McConaughey and Barry Pepper, he adequately conveys the inner torment that Pickman is going through. On the other end of the spectrum is pretty much the rest of the cast as everyone is pretty bad. While I hate to single out a specific performer, Maurice McNicholas as Dr. Dexter is pretty rough. He certainly looks the part of a learned psychologist, but, man, he is bad. The is one scene where he is questioning some jump roping girls outside of the church and they act better than him. This hurts the film because viewers will most likely become attached to this character the most as he begins investigating.
That said, I’d still recommend PICKMAN’S MUSE to the interested Lovecraft fan. Notice I didn’t say horror fan. If you were raised on the likes of RE-ANIMATOR (1985) or, hell, THE UNNAMABLE flicks, you will no doubt be disappointed by a film like this that keeps the gore and monsters in the shadows. All in all, I enjoyed PICKMAN’S MUSE despite a few low budget shortcomings. I give the film an H (honorable) for effort and P (pass) for its craft.