For Reel

The Whisperer in Darkness (2011)
April 29, 2017, 7:19 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Sean Branney
3 Stars
The Whisperer in Darkness.jpgIn their previous feature film outing, the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society crafted an homage to the world of silent film with The Call of Cthulhu and the effect was undoubtedly convincing. In addition to bringing the first truly faithful Lovecraft adaptation to the screen, the project also took great advantage of the tonal qualities relating to the art of silent films. That is, the mystifying and the unknowable seemed tailor-made for the world of German expressionism, which similarly prides itself in forging logical gaps. The Whisperer in Darkness, the production company’s equally ambitious follow-up, mimics the style of 1930s and 1940s horror in the way it uses a melodramatic score and bathes its sets in shadow (complete with the requisite nighttime thunderstorms), but unfortunately the filmmaker’s desire to meet more modern demands breaks the spell. An early lecture scene is quickly-cut, alternating between shots of at least four significant figures as well as the audience while the camera roams throughout the auditorium. If recreating the style of an old film is an unabashed gimmick, audiences will accept it if the filmmakers totally abide by those rules. In this case, however, the bizarre mix of contemporary pacing and old-fashioned aesthetic is a barrier to entry. The middle section, in following Lovecraft’s work faithfully, finally starts to gather steam as it unveils the disturbing implications of man’s sheer lack of knowledge regarding the world he inhabits. Turning the last act into a standard SyFy film translates better than one might think—Matt Foyer’s smug scholar turned action hero heightens the sense of desperation—but an attempt at character building towards the end happens a little too late to be fully convincing or effective (as it is, it plays as so forced that it becomes more than a little creepy). If The Whisperer in Darkness is not as enchanting as The Call of Cthulhu, however, it is equally enjoyable to watch for fans of the author, and the pair of films remain the key faithful adaptations of Lovecraft’s work.

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