Review: Older Gods


Every year – maybe every month – we read about new aspects of our ever-expanding knowledge of the universe. Of creation. And as this knowledge expands, even though our ability to comprehend the wonders of existence expands with it, our actually position in that universe, at least for those who ponder it, becomes infinitesimally small. Much of humanity has no day-to-day conception of how small and therefore how ineffectual and unimportant our race, much less individuals, are in the grand scheme.

For those who do, some are able to accept it and move on. Many take comfort in the accepted concept of “God,” and gain at least a marginally more important status thereby. But a few, desperate and unmoored, look for something different. This story is about them.

Chris Rivers (Rory Wilson – “Afterlyfe”) has just arrived at a lonely rental cottage in Wales. He’s there at the request of an old friend. It’s a pleasant day and there’s nothing unusual. However, that is about to change. As Chris wander about the place, he comes upon a stone cellar where he has a vision of a man suffocating with a plastic bag tied round his head. He shakes it off, but it’s clearly something haunting him.

Chris has brought with him a parcel of material put together by his deceased friend, William (Ieuan Coombs – “Sorceress”). It consists of clipping, photos, writings, drawings…and a thumb drive. The drive contains video files of the dead William, explaining his work and what happened to him. This is not all new because William’s beliefs and behavior had evidently driven away his friends and family, including Chris. It is guilt at having deserted his friend that drives Chris to examine the materials left to him.

Writer/director David A. Roberts (“Afterlyfe”) has written a taught little story about loss, disillusionment, guilt, a secretive world-wide cult and the potential end of days. He’s borrowed heavily from the musings if not the mythos of H. P. Lovecraft, and readily gives the master credit. In doing so, he has succeeded where so many have failed with Lovecraft, in that he has put on film the gradually devouring fear that is the core of the best of Lovecraft’s writings. And like Lovecraft, that aura of impending doom rather than some physical monstrosity, is the real goal of his creation.

There are no rubber tentacles, clacking crustacean pincers, or ghastly dismemberments. Blood is kept to a tasteful minimum, and jump scares to a few. Their absence makes the tale all the more powerful. There are many, of course, who will find this a moody bore, but for them I recommend “Suitable Bodies” an adaptation of Lovecraft’s “The Thing on the Doorstep,” which can be found online.

Cinematographer Shaun Bishop (“Afterlyfe” – do you see a pattern here?) has some remarkable shots scattered through the film, including the opening pan (drone?) over a hill and down overlooking the bucolic Welsh cottage which is the center of the action. The scene belies the fear to come.

Most of the folks involved in this project have modest backgrounds in the industry, but the combination, from writing to directing to acting is first rate. Enjoy their effort and look forward to more from them in the future.

Notes: Rory Wilson’s appearance here is striking. I found it reminiscent of the actor Robin Hughes (“Auntie Mame”), especially as he appeared in the Twilight Zone episode, “The Howling Man.” He played the devil.
Director Roberts wrote the script following the death of a dear friend during the Covid pandemic. It crystallizes his feeling of guilt in not being there to say goodbye, and assigns it to his protagonist.
Finally, just this week astronomers revealed new findings that question whether the universe really will expand into a state of nothingness. Old Ones rejoice!


Director/Writer: David A. Roberts
Producers: Scott Bishop, Shaun Bishop, David A. Roberts, Keith Lupton
Cinematographer: Shaun Bishop
Editors : Scott Bishop, David A. Roberts
Music: Gerald Buckfield

Chris: Rory Wilson
William: Ieuan Coombs
The Watcher: Jonathan Keeble

Runtime: 122 minutes
Availability: Various film festivals; free or rent VOD

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