Week 1 & 2

WEEK 1&2

What is the philosophy of cosmicism and how is it used to convey a sense of dread in both The Shadow Over Innsmouth and The Void?

Cosmicism is the understanding that humanity is hopeless and powerless in an unknown intergalactic existence with no divine presence of any kind recognized. The idea of horror is based on the fear mankind has of their very existence in an uncontrollably large universe. Identifying outer space as a strange unknown phenomena in Cosmic horror stories leaving human beings with very little understanding of their surroundings and the fear of not knowing (Stableford, 2007) Lovecraft clarifies this with a statement that states the basis of all cosmic horror is violation of the order of nature, and the profound violations are always the least concrete and desirable ( Lovecraft, 1934) .

The shadow over Innsmouth

The shadows over Innsmouth can be described as a type of Cthulhu mythos proper that makes use of tropes, props, and characters developed by Lovecraft in a fictional universe specifically for his stories.  The cosmic horror theme evident in the shadow over Innsmouth would be the outsider archetype. Where the main character Russel Marsh finds himself socially isolated by weird creatures, he is not familiar with, Russel is a history professor who is gay and has returned to his hometown of Riversmouth in hopes to get his late mother’s affairs in order. I think the fact that people in the town rarely spoke (English) would be the beginning of unease as there was a lack of communication allowing the narrator to become suspicious. The Use of tropes to describe the fish people in detail conveys a sense of fear and as Lovecraft states “the strongest kind of fear is the fear of the unknown”. An example of this in the story is the fear of miscegenation between humans and fish (deep ones) that result in the production of hybrids who are believed to inherit unknown abilities to humankind and therefore create a sense of dread.

The Void

The use of viscerate textures in the movie conveyed a sense of dread in a cosmic horror manner. The use of blood and slime to create a disgustingly slimy texture similar to that of human intestines is what grossed me out the most. The use of tentacles more than claws was also another prop that created a sense of fear, as the features of the tentacles to me was alien-like and associated with outer space. There was definitely the feeling of hopelessness and the idea of human abilities being limited therefore allowing no real chance of mankind winning against the powerfully unknown creatures.



Stableford, B. (2007). Cosmic Horror.

Lovecraft, H. P. (1939). The Shadow over Innsmouth.

Reyes, X. A. (2014). Body Gothic: Corporeal transgression in contemporary literature and horror film. Cardiff: University of Wales Press


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