The Curse of Yig (2010)
Based on the short story 'The Curse of Yig' by Hp Lovecraft and Zealia Bishop.
The bulk of this film takes place as a flash back within a flashback. The elderly nursing homebound narrator tells us from the time when she was a anthropology academic exploring snake lore in Oklahoma. Her investigations let her to a insane asylum in Guthrie. There Dr. McNeill told her some of the legend of Yig and its terrible curse . He told he had some proof of the curse in the basement of the madhouse and would tell her the story after he showing it to her. He leads her down to a isolated cell where he pulls back the shutter to reveal the patient, a reptilian looking humanoid with mottled skin and a slit like nose.
He tells her the creature doesn't age and relates to her the tale of its origin:
The story then starts its second flashback and we see Walker Davis and his wife Audrey, 2 typical farmers who have left Arkansas to set up a new farmstead in the newly opened public lands. Well, they were typical all ways except for Walkers unnatural fear of snakes. While making camp, the couple try to avoid typical areas where these serpents are found. During their travels they meet a man who first introduces them with his tales to the Snake Gog Yig who protects its child, the snakes. This does little to improve Davis' ophidiophobia. During some bad weather they are forced to make shelter among some sheltered rocky area and there Audrey stumbles upon a nest of rattle snakes. Much to Walkers horror, she kills them which in her husband's mind with invoke the wrath of Yig.
Eventually they reach their destination where they build a simple cabin and set to farming. After the first harvest, they have a party at Halloween to celebrate - however this is the time when Yig is most dangerous according to legend. After the singing and dancing finishes and their neighbours leave the couple retire. During the night, Audrey is woken by a terrible dream about the Snake God. She then hears a noise in the room and Walker lights a lamp and investigates. The illumination reveals the cabin floor in cover in rattle snakes. Walker collapses and the light goes out. Audrey is terrified and filled with panic. From the shadows a humanoid figure lurches towards her. Fearing that this is Yig looking for revenge, she grabs an axe that was beside the bed and strikes the humanoid over and over.
The next day the neighbour calls by - she opens the cabin door and sees Walker hacked to pieces on the floor but not showing any snake bites. She then discovers his wife under the bed on the verge of madness.
We then return to the Asylum where Dr. McNeill explains that Walker had only fainted. Our narrator asked what happened to his wife and its explained that insanity took her and she died a year or two later. This answer puzzles the narrator who presumed that it was Audrey she saw earlier in the cell. The Doctor corrects her by informing her that the creature is what she gave birth to 9 months later.
The film ends with the narrator as an old woman is obviously shaken after recalling these horrible events.
The Curse of Yig is a very effective version of one of HP Lovecraft's less known tales (one he collaborated on with Zealia Bishop). It follows the original story very closely and most of the dialogue is straight out of the Lovecraft story too which gives an authentic feel to the film. The director did choose to have his narrator female, something we don't see in the original story or any of Lovecraft's other works for that matter. Despite having a low budget, its photography is top notch and it looks a lot better than many more expensive productions. This helped by genuine looking period costumes and set design. I was also surprised how good the makeup used on the creature was (it reminded me of a superior version of that used in the 70's horror ' Sssssss').
The weakest part of the production was the acting which at times felt a little stagey and wooden but not enough to ruin the viewing experience for me. I'm not sure if it was budgetary constraints but the same actors were used for the Doctor/Walker and the Narrator/Audrey (as well as the creature). Again this didn't take too much away from it. I do however question the use of the word 'anthropomorphic' by a Okmulgee native in the late 19th century.
Overall, this is one of the better lower budget, Lovecraft lower budget adaptations out there. Its atmospheric and threats the source material with respect. I'm interested to see what director Paul von Stoetzel tackles next.
- Director, Paul von Stoetzel, shot another Lovecratian influenced short film, Asleep in the Deep, in 2005.