Film review: The Whisperer in Darkness

Film review: The Whisperer in Darkness

The Whisperer in Darkness  (2011)

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HPLHS Motion Pictures

The Whisperer in Darkness  is the second film brought to us by The HP Lovecraft Historical Society (under the HPLHS Motion Pictures) following after the 2005 release of the amazing The Call of Chthulhu.

As opposed to its older kin (which was executed perfectly in the style of a vintage silent filme), The Whisperer in Darkness  attempts to evoke the feeling of 1930s monster films (a la King Kong, Frankenstein or Dracula). It took them some time but the result is a beautiful piece and stands along side the best of the Lovecraft film interpretations.

Matt Foyer takes the lead (we also saw him as “The Man” in The Call of Chthulhu). Playing the role of Albert Wilmarth, Foyer is well cast, his wonderfully expressive face conveying the character’s frequent confusion and frustration. As an in-over-his-head academic Foyer plays a lead that isn’t bound by contemporary Hollywood bland-handsomeness. He feels real and identifiable.

Given the nature of the film there’s room for some actors to ham it up and Stephen Blackehart (as world-romping playboy Charlie Tower) and Daniel Kaemon (playing the sleazy used car feel of P.F. Noyes to the hilt) are gleefully up to the challenge.

I’m also quite found of Andrew Leman (The Call of Chthulhu‘s director) playing real-life weirdness expert Charles Fort.

The film is beautifully shot and the prop work takes my breath away. I love the technological elements they give to the film’s baddies, the feel of which is in the middle ground between dieselpunk and raygun gothic that the audience will recognize as classic “mad scientist”. The brain-communication system is especially lovely.

I enjoy the cinematic elements the team has brought to the story, it’s what makes this a film instead of just trying to recreate a short story visually.

There are a couple of bumps along the road, though. The movie feels a little over long, and some scenes could be trimmed a bit. A scene in a barn between Wilmarth and the young Hannah is particularly troubling as it comes after the action has started to really kick in and it feels as if it puts the brakes on the entire movie. Shortly after that there’s a scene in the villain’s lair that is much too gruesome for the era that the movie mimics. It is so out of place that it breaks the mood of the film for me.

Luckily the movie is saved by an ending that nails the nature of the story and is one of the few movie endings I can claim to love.

Recommended.

The Whisperer in Darkness official site:

http://cthulhulives.org/Whisperer/index.html

 PS: I’m a touch surprised that (other than a staggering amount of languages under subtitles) the DVD doesn’t come with any bonus features. A “making of” would have been really welcome.

PPS: A bit of interest for the gamer, per the wikipedia: “The characters of Wilmarth’s three friends at Miskatonic University were developed from Call of Cthulhu role-playing characters created years before by Branney, Leman, and a friend.

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