Directed by Jamie Payne
Starring Paul Darrow and Gerrard McArthur
Rough Magik is very, very loosely based on ‘The Call of Cthulhu’, in which an academic goes through his late uncle’s papers, learning of the global spread of the sinister Cthulhu cult.
A woman sacrifices her children to a tentacled statuette and is taken away by Mr Moon (Darrow), a man from… some ministry or other. Concerned by the sudden increase in the numbers of these Dreamers, Moon seeks out Warren (McArthur), an antiques dealer and former member of a clandestine group called the Night Scholars. Determined to find out where Warren came upon his knowledge of the Dreamers, Moon has him drugged and questions him about his time in the Falklands.
What’s wrong with it?
Rough Magik is a desperately low budget production – the sort of budget that looks enviously at SyFy originals – and although it is generally clever about it and the low budget only really jumps out at you a couple of times, those times are when it most needs to be taken seriously.
The plot is kind of hard to follow, perhaps because a lot of the dialogue is mumbled; or maybe the VHS transfer was just a bit ropey.
It claims to be ‘Episode 1’, although there were never any others as far as I can tell.
What’s right with it?
While the device of Moon putting Warren under the influence is a little forced, the basic set up of an official trying to extract the hidden truth of the Cthulhu Cult isn’t bad Lovecraftiana.
The isolated shepherds of the Falklands make for a pretty good Anglocentric Innsmouth.
How bad is it really?
Some good ideas are let down by the budget, which is a shame as the story probably could have been done justice with almost no effects and some slightly better players.
Best bit (if such there is)?
The mother bringing her children into the room with its carefully prepared altar as if to a surprise birthday party is super, super creepy. Horrible, but effective, at least until they fluff it with an exaggerated psycho stab.
What’s up with…?
- The psychiatrist being embedded with a combat unit despite having no combat training or experience, and no-one in the unit (which is, apparently, four dudes and a Colonel) knowing who he is?
Production values – Absolute bargain basement, roughly equivalent to the amateur vids I used to make with my mates at school. 17
Dialogue and performances – The dialogue is mostly functional, but even where the performances are okay, the sound quality is so poor it is hard to tell. 13
Plot and execution – A basically simple, fairly creepy and Lovecraftian story is harmed by a few poor effects choices. 12
Randomness – The Sigil is a bit odd, looking like neither of the well-established possible Elder Signs. 8
Waste of potential – There’s a real potential for this that isn’t realised; it’s a shame. 15