Starfish Movie Explained, An Introduction Into Cosmic & Eldritch Horror

Starfish from Yellow Veil Pictures

Starfish is a movie that’s a straightforward apocalyptic tale. There are monsters and it does star the beautiful Virginia Gardner but it’s a strange and wonderful journey you need to see just once. I’m going to go ahead and explain exactly what sort of movie this is and to that, I need to begin with what Cosmic and Elfdrich horror is. Watch Starfish right now, on Prime.

What is Cosmic Horror?

Cosmic horror is about the fear of the unknowable. It’s the feeling of helplessness and feeling small inside something that is bigger than you are.

A perfect example of cosmic horror is when the unknown sidles up against something familiar. Imagine you are in a large house all by yourself and the power goes out. It’s the middle of the night and everything is pitch black. A good cosmic horror story will make you rethink what you think you know about having control within your own world.

So What’s Eldritch Horror?

Horror and fantasy stories and films are often described as Eldritch. It means unearthly and supernaturally weird. Ghosts and strange monsters are elementally eldritch as are stories about them Witches, goblins, and elves are often said to be eldritch as well. A recent film I just saw called Border (2019) could be the perfect example of a modern eldritch film as could the better-known The Cabin in the Woods (2012.)

Now That’s Out of the Way, Who Wrote Starfish?

If you’ve never heard of White, he is now predominantly a filmmaker but used to spend most of his time as a UK musician. Starfish is his debut feature film which premiered at Fantastic Fest this year.

Aside from that, the writer/director wanted to showcase the music he chooses so the score becomes as integral to the narrative as the storyline itself. Al is the frontman for a band called ‘Ghostlight’ and they have a new album releasing called ‘Dive Dark.’ The website for the band has some albums you can buy as well as a bunch of free downloads under the Media tab.

Let’s get straight to the point, I didn’t understand this movie as much as I wanted to. I did find a few interviews with its writer/director/producer A.T White so I’ll list some explanatory notes for this film later on. Was this movie enjoyable? Sure! I particularly liked the music and visuals used here and still found it extremely interesting and thought-provoking. Anyone who has a deep philosophical connection to music will probably appreciate further aspects of this as well.

All Proceeds For this Film go to Charity

If you want a reason to go and rent or buy this film when it released on VOD on May 28, 2019, A.T. White is donating every single penny he makes from it to Cancer Research. This fact in and of itself is a definite precursor to the film’s inherent meaning. Al wrote the script off the back of divorce and then his friend died of cancer.

Starring Virginia Gardner

Virginia Gardner in Starfish (2018) Fantastic Fest. Eldritch and cosmic horror movies
Virginia Gardner in Starfish (2018) Fantastic Fest


Virginia Gardner as Aubrey
Virginia Gardner as Aubrey
Starfish movie still 2018
In an apocalyptic world, can Aubrey save it?

The Basic Plot of Starfish Movie Starring Virginia Gardner

Basically, Audrey begins the film hiding from monsters. I was instantly surprised to see any because usually, films of this ilk are totally devoid of any actual monsters. The movie immediately cuts to an animation sequence leaving us to imagine the remaining scene. So agonizing is this encounter for Aubrey that she simply disappears. The animation describes how she sees her world now and throws in imagery that can only be described as drowning in a sea of confusion amidst people who aren’t people anymore.

If you look at this film at face value, Audrey has reached a time where it’s the end of the world. She pines for her life as she knew it and her best friend Grace has died leaving her to survive with only her memory. Past relationships from what was once her life haunt her. More importantly, her new apocalyptic world is lonely, scary and filled with monsters. She is on a mission to bring her world back to what it once was. She will save the world. Aubrey finds a hidden code within a series of mixtapes and now she thinks she has deciphered how to use it to stop the monster invasion.

It doesn’t really have to be complicated unless you want it to be. There are stringent story parts and a cataclysmic finale. It’s quite possible to enjoy this film and not even look for the hidden meanings of it all.

The Metaphorical Angle

If, however, you are someone who loves to delve into the philosophical and the melancholy, then you’ll also be right at home. There are plenty of clues to look for and you can apply meanings to things like the turtle who appears regularly or the tape decks people are seen carrying. Even the monsters themselves will give you plenty to discuss. Why are they all different?

The film explains to us early on that everyone is dead. Aubrey is the last person left and the music overshadowing these initial scenes is sad. Over the course of the film, in the background, from time to time, we see a monster towering into the sky and at other times they are not far from her. Monsters are everywhere in Starfish and although they don’t play a big part, they certainly come in many different forms. In contrast to this is Aubrey herself. She has a disguise and moves about freely, despite the madness of her world. She is particularly clean and appears uninjured, she also sleeps amidst the chaos but while tormented by nightmares.

Eldritch Horror

Aubrey’s friend Grace left her the series of mixtapes hidden in places she used to frequent and assumes they able to save the world. An easy assumption to make because the words are literally written on the tape. Each tape that she listens to immerses her into varying scenic landscapes. A bedroom, the set for a film called Starfish, snow-covered land, a volcano, a dessert, and the beach are just some of the images she sees.

Fantastic Fest — Virginia Gardner in Starfish (2018) Eldritch and cosmic horror movies
Fantastic Fest premiere — Virginia Gardner in Starfish (2018)

Are You Confused By This Starfish Movie Yet?

I want to say this movie makes no sense but it does. Even though I feel like I don’t understand it in its entirety if you break down all the events of the film it morphs into a blended whole. The scenes are not cohesive at times but have enough of a rhythm to make a story. The mixtapes will save the world, but how? The songs on the tape contain a signal that no one knows the meaning of. When all the tapes are played in order will the world she now knows be fixed or ruined? Does putting all the pieces together make everything as it was? I know how it ends but I’m not telling you.

For some strange reason, this film works and might even be of comfort to those with heavy impactful events in their lives. The imagery is stunning and the music fits everything like a glove. Similar films I have seen in the past which were told using an apocalyptic backdrop (like The Badbatch, Bokeh, and Here Alone) didn’t work for me. Although these mentioned films cover different aspects of life’s hardships, they didn’t connect with me as Starfish did. Maybe it’s the music connection or perhaps Al White just has what it takes to be a prolific filmmaker. Read on for some background information on where the inspiration for this film came from.

I give Starfish

4 do turtles get lonely? out of 5

4 stars out of 5
4 stars out of 5
Starfish (2018) Eldritch horror movies 2019
We Are Tessellate 3Roundburst Productions (in association with) Spellbound Entertainment. Starfish premieres at Fantastic Fest. Get the information for it’s screening dates plus a spoiler free review this week on

Virginia Garner Stars in Starfish

Eldritch and Cosmic Horror With Music

  • We Are Tessellate & 3Roundburst Productions (in association with) Spellbound Entertainment.
  • Sales by Yellow Veil Pictures, Distributed by Orchard.
  • Starring Virginia Gardner.
  • Eldritch and cosmic horror with music.

See the Starfish Movie on Amazon Prime

Spoiler Alert

This Hoity Toity Notes Section Contains Spoilers

Virginia Gardner in the Starfish Movie

Al White wrote and directed this film off the back of divorce and after this, his friend died of Cancer. As soon as I read that, I could easily apply many aspects of the film’s imagery to a lot of the film.

In the opening animation scene, there is a figure crying beside a car. When Audrey goes to see if they are ok, the man turns and shows his monster face. This same man features in different parts of the film. I saw him as the person you know transforming into an unknowable monster in times of upheaval such as in a divorce.

The film is said to be a portrayal of grief. Audrey’s systematic immersion through music while listening to the tapes takes her back to various moments in her life. Some good and some not so good landscapes await her. At one point she has a nose bleed and while the film could be hinting that the code within the tapes is causing her sickness, you could also say her torment has made her physically ill.

Starfish Movie – In Conclusion

In the closing scenes, Aubrey makes a plan to save the world. She puts all the tapes together and makes them all one again. She does everything she can to make all the broken pieces one again. Her world is broken and there is nothing left. Thinking she is the only person left, she tries again to reach anyone else through the radio at the station. She wants the world to simply be ‘back to normal.’ After all, she fixed everything. A voice tells her that nothing is fixed and in fact, putting all the pieces together has just opened up the world to new monsters.

In conclusion for me, this is stating that no matter how much you try and fix things, sometimes the world will never be the same and you just have to keep on dealing with monsters. Cosmic and eldritch horror makes for the perfect landscape for a film like this.

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