At the Mountains of Madness is a loss of innocence story about two explorers named Dyer and Danforth. When a member of their expedition discovers a strange creature frozen beneath an uncharted mountain range deep in Antarctica, Dyer and Danforth rush to meet him and learn more. They arrive to find the camp destroyed, most of the crew dead, and their friend missing. Looking for answers and hoping to find their friend alive, they search for him in the mountains only to uncover a massive, ancient, and seemingly dead city. As they search through the sprawling tomb, they come face-to-face with an ancient horror that challenges their very perceptions of reality. At The Mountains of Madness asks the viewer “Do we really matter?” and then answers with a resounding “No.’’
Lovecraft’s style of horror is deeply intellectual and nihilistic, which presents a unique challenge for us as visual storytellers. Cosmicism, a school of literary philosophy developed by Lovecraft himself, is one of the strongest themes in our animation. It draws on both the human fear of insignificance and the pain of re-defining one’s perception of reality. Lovecraft’s original prose conveyed this subtext through exposition, but given our medium and scope we decided to explore it through characterization instead. Dyer is a seasoned explorer with a long history in academia, and is loathe to indulge in outlandish speculation. Danforth, on the other hand, is a young graduate student with an open and impressionable mind. Their character conflict is what establishes the tone of our story.
Because of this project’s scope and length (5 – 7 minutes), we will not be retelling Lovecraft’s story verbatim. Changes will be made, some scenes will be cut, and some characters will be merged. We are all huge fans of H. P. Lovecraft’s work, but a story as dense with exposition as At the Mountains of Madness needs to be altered to fit a short-form visual medium. First and foremost, we aim to create an animation that can stand on its own legs, be entered into film festivals, and serve as living proof that H. P. Lovecraft CAN work on screen. (Psssst, are you listening, Hollywood?)
That being said, we still aim to preserve the peerless dread evoked by H. P. Lovecraft’s work, and have no intention of putting out a goofy mockery of Lovecraft. Our animation will take Dyer and Danforth and send them on a journey that compromises both their lives and their sanity.