What could be the worst example of clickbait yet—“This fisherman catches a lobster, what happens next will shock you…then make you cry”—is actually the basis of a well-made, thoughtful short film that contemplates how we get attached to certain things and what we must do about those attachments. Caterwaul, written and directed by Ian Samuels, centers around a lonely Cape Cod fisherman who traps a lobster one day only to discover it exhibits certain un-lobsterlike characteristics. As time goes on, the fisherman gets close to the beast—perhaps too close—and it starts to take on different attributes, both physical and much deeper.
The film could easily be a creepy tale of bestiality or else a simple story of a mutant, but instead it plays out like a cross between Splice, The Secret of Roan Inish, and Diggers. Samuels does a good job of making the film subtly touching, suggesting that this is all just a manifestation of the fisherman’s loneliness projected onto a lovable lobster. The writer/director excels at using his Jim Henson Workshop background to build a sympathetic but gross creature that’s a Brundlefly version of the mystics from The Dark Crystal.
Another performer who turns in great work in this 13-minute short is sole actor George Murdock, who died after its completion in 2012. Murdock was perhaps best known for playing “Elder #2” in The X-Files, the god that needs a spaceship in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, and Chuck Norris’ enemy in Breaker! Breaker!—a role that presages Ben Gazzara’s villainous turn in Road House—but Caterwaul showcases his softer, yet creepier side.