If a creature from another dimension entered our reality, would we even recognize it as a life form? What would a creature from, say, the 6th dimension look like to our 3-dimensional eyes?
The 1884 novel Flatland by Edwin A. Abbott tells the story of the Square, a guy who lives in two dimensions with his friends and neighbors. One day, a sphere from the third dimension visits him in his home. Hovering just over the house, the Sphere attempts communication with the Square, but the Square sees nothing and thinks he’s imagining the voice. So to prove he is real, the Sphere actually “touches down” into the 2-dimensional house.
So here’s the point: The Square does not see the Sphere as a sphere. All he sees is the parts of the Sphere that make contact with 2 dimensions: length and breadth. The Sphere probably looks like a line to the Square. And as the Sphere goes up and down, to the Square’s eye, the Sphere’s “line” increases or decreases in length.
He literally cannot see the “up” dimensional part of the Sphere. He cannot imagine the Sphere’s true form.
Much like the Square cannot see the true form of the Sphere, we in the third dimension would not be able to discern the true form of (for example) a fifth dimensional being. And you can probably see how this might drive someone insane… especially if the creature from the higher dimension has no regard for the lives of creatures in lower dimensions.
As I’m fond of saying, it ain’t about tentacles.
All of which leads up to the two movies I want to tell you about. But first, if you wish, check out this Carl Sagan video, which can probably explain these concepts better than I did:
My recommended Lovecraftian movies page is a list of films that make good use of Lovecraftian themes, but that are not necessarily adaptations of Lovecraft’s work. Recently, I watched two movies that I’ll probably be adding to that page: The Corridor and Pontypool.
In The Corridor, five friends spend a weekend in a cabin in the woods to catch up on old times. Recently, one of them was released from a mental hospital. Apparently, he and his mother saw and heard some strange things that started driving them crazy. What happens in the woods that weekend is an example of a creature from another reality revealing itself to people in this one, and how it affects their mental stability.
Pontypool is a very different movie that also illustrates this example. “In the small town of Pontypool, Ontario, former shock jock turned radio announcer Grant Mazzy drives through a blizzard on his way to work. When poor visibility forces him to stop his car, an underdressed woman appears on the road, startling him. Grant calls out to her, but she disappears into the storm, ominously repeating his words and visibly disturbing him. Grant eventually arrives at the radio station, where he works with technical assistant Laurel-Ann Drummond and station manager Sydney Briar. As the morning proceeds, they get a report from their weather and traffic helicopter reporter Ken Loney about a possible riot at the office of Doctor Mendez in Pontypool. He describes a scene of chaos and carnage that results in numerous deaths, immediately grabbing Grant’s attention. After Ken is unexpectedly cut off, the group tries to confirm his report, but their witnesses are disconnected before they can get them on the airwaves. Ken calls back and reports that he has found the “infected” son of a well-known Pontypool citizen nearby, mumbling to himself.” (Partial plot description from Wikipedia.)
And that’s as much as I want to give away about this movie. In fact, I strongly suggest that you read nothing about these movies, and do not watch the trailers. You will have a much better viewing experience if you go into it knowing nothing more than what I’ve written here.
But after you’ve seen the movies, I think you’ll agree that they are very Lovecraftian… and Pontypool, especially, is very frightening.
(Currently, The Corridor and Pontypool are both available on Netflix streaming!)
Buy these movies on DVD through these links to support Lovecraft eZine: The Corridor — Pontypool (DVD or Amazon streaming)
After you’ve seen these movies, comment below with your thoughts…!
I really liked “Pontypool,” mostly because of Stephen McHattie’s performance in the film and that the film probes intellectual/philosophical horror. Thanks for the recommendation, Mike.
“The Corridor” was okay: The premise was more intriguing to me than the execution of the film. But the film was certainly better than most of the movies lumped into the horror category.
I actually used that Sagan video for research purposes when I was writing about the fourth-dimensional entity that appears in “A Catechism for Aspiring Amnesiacs”. Sagan’s good stuff.
Just watched another film that I would consider to be Lovecraftian. The Burrowers (2008) is a period movie set post-Civil War American plains. Without giving away any spoilers, a prairie family is taken by what is assumed to be indians and a small group of men go looking for them… it’s not indians.
Thanks for the film recommendations, Mike, I will definitely check them out. I think HPL with his love for science and rationality would approve of Sagan’s explanation of dimensions, as do I! (Good to see you posting and hope you’re feeling better.)
n-thing the love for Pontypool. Just watched The Corridor. REALLY good stuff there. Canadian Horror Cinema is on a roll.
Pontypool is one of my top ten movies ever. I shall now rush to get The Corridor!
I love Pontypool! I need to catch The Corridor, though. Thanks Mike!
Pontypool is free on AmazonPrime, however The Corridor costs $3.99! Ah, Netflix – maybe I should come back. Not on Hulu+.
Pontypool is one of my favorite movies! I am still struggling through the novel–it’s very dense. But now I’m excited to see The Corridor!
Pontypool is an outstanding movie but an even better book called “Pontypool Changes Everything.” The movie sequel to Pontypool, Pontypool Changes, is currently under production.
Loved Pontypool but have yet to see The Corridor. I’m Netflixin’ that sucker when I get home.