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Characters / In the Mouth of Madness

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John Trent

Played By: Sam Neill

A cynical, skeptical insurance investigator hired to track down Sutter Cane.

  • Agent Scully: He firmly refuses to believe in any of the horrors he encounters in Hobb's End, thinking they're just using elaborate special effects and actors. It takes coming face to face with the Old Ones themselves to realize that it's all real.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Though his quirks are mostly downplayed and he's a master at fraud detection, he has a bulb horn in his glove compartment for some reason, which he uses to wake up Styles.
  • Cassandra Truth: Once he finds out that Cane's works are all real, he attempts to warn everyone with two ears. Nobody listens until it's too late, and even then, they don't realize that the book's popularity and the apocalypse are directly connected.
  • Deadpan Snarker: He'll snark at just about anyone. It tends to annoy Styles.
    Trent: (after being told that his attacker was Cane's agent) You'd think a guy that outsells Stephen King could find better representation.
  • Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: To Cane:
    Trent: God's not supposed to be a hack horror writer.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: Seeing himself and everything he'd ever been through on film is what finally drives him to irrevocable insanity.
  • Heroic BSoD: Upon being told that the movie adaptation of the titular book is set to be released in a month, he has a mental breakdown and murders a Sutter Cane fan.
  • Laughing Mad: After he comes to realize that he's just a creation of Sutter Cane.
  • Only Sane Man: He's always looking for a rational explanation behind everything. Ultimately played with; enforced in that he's written by Cane specifically to be this trope, then deconstructed after discovering firsthand that Cane's works are all real, he's still this in his own right, attempting to destroy the manuscript and warning everyone, only to be seen as delusional while the world around him falls apart, when in reality, only he knows the truth.
    Styles: A reality is just what we tell each other it is. Sane and insane could easily switch places, if the insane were to become the majority. You would find yourself locked in a padded cell, wondering, "what happened to the world?"
    Trent: No, that wouldn't happen to me.
    Styles: It would if you realized everything you ever knew was gone. It'd be pretty lonely being the last one left.
  • Sanity Slippage: Downplayed. Though he's seen the Old Ones first hand, he's still, for the most part, fairly stable towards the end of the movie, though it only really starts to slip after he murders a Sutter Cane fan, where you can see he's clearly distressed and worn out.
  • Would Hit a Girl: He punches the mutated Styles after she punches him.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Thinks that he's in a regular Film Noir, and that Arcane Publishing and the people of Hobbs' End are just elaborate con artists. He's actually in a Cosmic Horror Story, and he's just another creation of Cane, who's pulling everyone's strings.


Linda Styles

Played By: Julie Carmen

Sutter Cane’s editor, who is assigned to aid Trent in searching for him.

  • Agent Mulder: After finding out that Hobb's End is real, she's more open-minded to the supernatural occurrences. Even before that, she had a few shades of this.
  • Ambiguously Human: She looks more human than most of the mutants in the movie after reading Cane's manuscript, but to what extent she still is isn't clear. She can twist her body parts around and smash the heavier Trent through a door, and eats his keys without flinching.
  • Body Horror: Not as blatantly grotesque as most examples in the movie, but she contorts her neck and limbs after Trent stops the car.
  • Femme Fatale: Played with. Trent seems to think she's this, but never shows any interest in her. While she's certainly not unattractive, she dresses way too modestly to look the part, though she does try to make a move on Trent to get him to stay when he starts packing, though he shoves her off, and only turns against him by stealing his car when he turns down her advances.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: After reading Cane's manuscript, she goes insane, and then it only gets worse, when she gets Super Strength and the ability to twist her neck and limbs around.
  • Ret-Gone: Or as Trent put it, "written out". She hands him the manuscript, and then disappears from the story completely. Harglow doesn't remember sending her with Trent.
  • Skeptic No Longer: Initially, she refuses to believe that Hobb's End is a real place, until she actually finds it. From there, she undergoes a bit of Sanity Slippage.


Sutter Cane

Played By: Jürgen Prochnow

A famous horror novelist who has recently gone missing.

  • Author Avatar: In-Universe, the movie is taking place inside one of his stories and the character we see is just a fictional version of himself. The "real" Sutter Cane doesn't have any power outside of being a writer.
  • Author Powers: His powers are so vast the entire world is his story.
  • Big Bad: He's the de facto main villain of the story, directly responsible for almost everything that happens, though he is, himself, in service to something even worse.
  • Dark Is Evil: Besides his all-black attire, he spends time writing in the Black Church, a cathedral that's completely dark on the inside, illuminated only by torches on braziers in the shape of inverted crosses. Then there's also the matter of him being a horror writer.
  • Dark Messiah: According to him, more people believe in his writings than they do the Bible. And indeed, he certainly has quite a cultlike following who will literally start riots because they've been waiting on his new book for so long.
  • Deity of Human Origin: He's already practically seen as a god by his fans. Once he finds out that he isn't writing fiction, he becomes, for all intents and purposes, a Physical God, writing and rewriting reality as he sees fit.
  • Evil Wears Black: By the time Trent and Styles find him, he's knowingly working under the Old Ones and is dressed completely in black to show for it.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Cane is always straightforward and cordial, though he's made it his goal to unravel reality.
  • A God Am I: Calls himself God, and given the extent of his power, he isn't far off at all.
  • Humanoid Abomination: His meeting with the Old Ones turned him into one. He's capable of altering reality through his writing, which in itself, drives people to anything from minor instabilities and paranoia to murderous insanity and transformation into a hideous mutant monster.
  • Light Is Not Good: When Trent continues to deny his power, he shines a bright light through the confessional.
  • Name of Cain: In case you didn't expect him to be the villain of the story.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: He's H. P. Lovecraft with the popularity of Stephen King, the latter of whom exists in the film's universe and Cane is even more popular than.
  • Red Right Hand: He's got a strange creature attached to his back, though it only appears in one scene.
  • Stylistic Suck: According to Trent, he's not a very good author, and his books all have the same basic ideas, but he's clearly very popular for some reason.
  • Would Hurt a Child: It's implied that he takes children away to the Black Church, for his masters to transform them into murderous creatures.


Jackson Harglow

Played By: Charlton Heston

Cane’s publisher.

  • Con Man: Trent suspects him of being one, and initially, he is. Harglow did, in fact, send Cane away as a publicity stunt, but what he didn't realize is that Cane had his own plans.
  • Hidden Depths: Harglow doesn't read Cane's books, saying he lacks the stomach for them. Unfortunately, this causes problems due to his lack of knowledge about those books' dangerous content.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: The apocalypse probably could have been averted had Harglow read Cane’s manuscript before releasing it.
  • Wham Line: Delivers two at the movie's climax.
    Harglow: You delivered that manuscript to me months ago. To me personally in this room.
    Trent: I did?
    Harglow: Yes, you did. Last spring. For God's sakes, we published in July. The book's been in the stores for seven weeks.
    Trent: I know this book will drive people crazy.
    '''Harglow: Well, let's hope so. The movie comes out next month.
    (Trent stands up in terror, his chair falls over)



Played By: Bernie Casey

Trent’s colleague and friend, who owns a large insurance company.

  • Put on a Bus: He disappears from the movie after only being seen twice.


Dr. Wrenn

Played By: David Warner

A psychiatrist who interviews Trent in the Framing Device.



Played By: Wilhelm von Homburg

A resident of Hobb’s End.

  • Driven to Suicide: Blows his own head off after being unable to cope with the knowledge that he's just a fictional character.
  • Fourth-Wall Observer: In-Universe, he's the only character to know that he's actually in Cane's latest novel.
  • Only Sane Man: For a certain definition of "sane," though he's probably the closest thing to it here. Unlike everyone else in the movie, he realizes that he's a work of fiction, though it along with his daughter's transformation and his son's abduction drives him to blow his own head off.
  • Papa Wolf: Take away his son? He'll come for you with an angry mob and a shotgun.

Played By: John Glover

The head of the mental asylum Trent is confined to in the Framing Device.

  • Shout-Out: Shares a name with the Rosemary's doctor.
  • Stepford Smiler: He's awfully chipper, despite his grim profession. It might be a clue that he's a little unhinged himself, as he subtly implies that he reads Sutter Cane.

     Axe Maniac 
Played by: Conrad Bergschneider

  • An Axe to Grind: He attacks Trent in a restaurant with a bloody axe.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: He lost his mind while reading the sample chapters from Cane's latest book and learning that he's a fictional character and the world is about to end.
  • Good All Along: He's introduced attacking Trent with an ax and an insane expression on his face, but according to Cane, he was motivated by having read that Trent would be the one to bring Cane's book back to civilization and herald the end of the world.
  • No Name Given: He's only ever called "Cane's agent" or "that lunatic."
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Tried to kill Trent because he knew he would bring the book back and start "the change".

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