Week One & Two: Lovecraftian Horror

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 – also known as Cosmic Horror – has a philosophy which deals with feelings of existential dread and the concept of ‘insignificance‘[4].  Cosmicism is tightly correlated with HP Lovecraft, his work and those influenced by him. Lovecraft’s The Shadow Over Innsmouth utilizes the philosophy of cosmicism and conveys it through a sense of looming doom, a permanent dread which hangs over the protagonist of the story. It’s this feeling which is replicated in those influenced by his work, The Void being a good modern example. The Void, by Steven Kostanki and Jeremy Gillespie, portrays the feeling of dread in various ways; the hopelessness of the situation, the uncertainty surrounding the characters’ fates and the distinct feeling that the characters are see something forbidden[4], something mankind was not meant to uncover. The idea of mankind’s insignificance, in direct contradiction to the beliefs of the Christian faith, is explored though [1].


Lovecraft’s influence, and the philosophy of cosmic horror, has gone on to inspire many great works. These works encompass the same general feeling of looming doom and existential dread found in The Shadow over Innsmouth; John Carpenter’s The Thing for example. However, it’s not just the feeling of existential dread which ties these works to comicism, it’s also the appearance of the monsters. Using The Thing as an example, the monster/creature in the film is constantly changing shape and even references Lovecraft with some tentacle-like transformations[5]. The one of the biggest ties to cosmicism in The Thing isn’t the monster, or the feeling of impending doom, it’s the idea that mankind has found something not meant for them. Something either beyond their comprehension, or something that’s better off not knowing[2].

Cosmicism’s worldly philosophy often reference’s humanity’s lack of control, the human characters in the stories either have no choice but to participate in what’s going on[3] or are simply powerless to change the outcome of events, whether they’re there by choice or not. The concept of fate, in many stories such as these, effect the characters’ fate with or without their knowledge and ‘the audience’s reaction to tragic endings can be more or less sympathetic if it’s revealed that the characters had no control over the outcome of events, throughout the story‘[6].



[1] The Void. Steven Kostanki and Jeremy Gillespie.

[2] Miriam Webster. Definition of dread.

[3] The Shadow Over Innsmouth. HP Lovecraft.

[4] Stableford, B. (2007). The cosmic horror.

[5] The Thing, John Carpenter (1984)

[6] Jack Morrison, How Fate Effect Characters (Doctor Fate) (2015)



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