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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Crouch End

Awwwww yiss.

This will do nicely. I love HP Lovecraft (what I have read of him; I admit not to being a Lovecraft scholar) and I love it when Stephen King goes Lovecraft on us. And he sure did here.

In fact, Crouch End is more or less set in Lovecraft's world, where unseen eldritch abominations beyond the conceptions of mortal men lie in wait behind the thin, gauzy veneer we call reality, and to so much as hear their name means insanity, or even death.

Crouch End is all about a young couple who wander into the worst part of town. A part where reality is fluid, and beyond the borders of our sane world waits a presence...

This story has it all. Creeping dread, paranoia, creepy deformed kids, whispers from the shadows, a demonic cat, red lights in the sky, the Black Goat with a Thousand Young...

It's told en media res by the lady of the pair, Doris Freeman, to a couple of cops working the night shift in Tottenham Road. She and her husband are in England on business, but after getting lost in the little berg of Crouch End, horrific things began happening to them, and her husband Lonnie is now missing.

The two PC's, Ted Vetter and Robert Farnham, discuss her story between themselves, Farnham being young and cocky and sure she's crazy or on drugs, while Vetter has been around a while (get it? Vetter, veteran, nyuck nyuck) and isn't so sure that her story should be so easily dismissed.

As a story, there's not all that much to it, but I do think there's much left deliberately unexplored, and I do think there's enough concept here to expand this to at least an 88-minute movie, and there's nothing wrong with a movie that short. And Gan knows it would be plenty scary.

I think it should focus almost as much on the cops involved as on the couple. There's an especially nice little conversation in the middle of the story between Farnham and another cop, Raymond, who doesn't really have anything to do with the story but holy god what a creepy character! If anything, his one scene sent more shivers up my spine than any other part. Something's clearly up there, and needs to be examined a bit more. Especially considering the ending, which I will not spoil. If you're interested, this story is part of the Nightmares and Dreamscapes collection. Off to the book store with you.

Now, I should mention that it's been adapted before. It was part of the mini-series Nightmares and Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King and it starred Claire Forlani and Eion Bailey. I haven't seen it, but I have heard literally nothing good about it. It's on YouTube, though. I watched a bit of it with the sound down. It looks laaaaaaaaame.

No, a movie is the only format this will work in, I think.

Now, to casting.

Before I really start, though, I should mention that, being a short story, the young couple don't get much more characterization than "young couple". If anything, I almost don't think of them as the stars of the story, even though they're the ones things happen to. The cops are far more detailed, so both my leads are essentially just attractive people we like watching.

Doris will be played by Jessica Chastain. Honestly, there are dozens of women who could play this part. I picked Chastain because she's a good actress who's shown a willingness to do horror.
Her husband, Lonnie, is kinda blandly handsome, but described as a big man with an athletic body. I wasn't sure who should play him, but Ryan Kwanten could fit this role no problem.
PC Ted Vetter is an older British Bobby who's been around and seen some crazy things. He talks to Farnham about the barriers through reality being thin around Crouch End. Mid-way through his speech, I realized who should play him, whose voice I was already reading the lines in. Peter Capaldi.
Younger, less experienced and incredibly cocky young PC, Robert Farnham, grows to take an interest in the story after Vetter's description unnerves him. He has a brief conversation with another cop, PC Raymond, and then decides to explore the area the Freemans were in for himself (cue Jaws music). There's probably thousands of young British actors who can play him, but I pictured Harry Lloyd.
Finally, I gotta talk about PC Raymond. Wow, I just don't know what to say about this guy. He just sorta walks over at the end of his shift and talks to Farnham about his case. Farnham's internal monologue tells us that he doesn't trust Raymond, that Raymond gets a bit violent with suspects, and the whole time Raymond behaves in a creepy-as-fuck manner that makes me more than suspicious of him. What he's got to do with Crouch End's mysterious happenings is beyond me, but come on, this ain't no run-of-the-mill cop gone bad. Something is very much so "up" with him. I pictured him with the creepy smirk and raised eyebrow of Jared Harris.

Well, two posts in one day. Whoda thunkit? This one was short, and I'm sorry for that, but I'm not fleshing it out into a screenplay. If I was, I'm sure there'd be more roles to cast. The creepy kids, for one thing, whom I'm not casting due to my own rules.

And with this post I will say Merry Christmas (again), Happy New Year and Fa la la la laaaaa, la la la la. We'll see you in January with a cast for Firestarter and your friendly blogger will edge even closer to the big 4-0.

Next Up: Firestarter!


  1. I could roll with that cast, though some instinct is telling me to recommend swapping Capaldi and Harris.

    Ever seen the television version of this? It's awful, like most of that "Nightmares & Dreamscapes" miniseries; not even vaguely scary, and the casting is quite poor.

    1. I watched it at work with the sound off. I didn't care for what I saw.

      First of all, the washed-out color just looks wrong. It fails to feel the least bit scary; it kinda looks like a tourism commercial or something.

      They shortened what, to my mind, was the most interesting part, the police station, and the ending suffers from extreme Special Effects Failure.

  2. I haven't gotten to Nightmares and Dreamscapes, but this sounds like a cool story. Two thoughts: I love the thought of Capaldi as world-weary bobbie. And especially, Amen to there being nothing wrong with an 88-minute movie. I wish Hollywood understood that. Source Code is around 90 minutes, and the story is executed perfectly in that time. And there have been numerous other 90-minute non-family movies that I've liked. Identity, for another example.

    Anyway, that's about all I had to say.

  3. You'll like this one when you get to it. It goes for the goosebump-inducing creep factor and boy does it ever hit it straight on.