After I finished watching the second feature created by the
H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society, The
Whisperer in Darkness, (read my review of their first movie, The
Cthulhu, here) I kept on thinking of another movie I had recently seen,
Clash of the Titans. They
had a few things in common: they're both
based on older stories, people
worked long and hard the films, and they were each about a lone man
stop untold death and destruction. There
are a couple of very significant things that sets these two movies
however. While Clash of the
Titans had a $125,000,000 budget and was pretty awful
when it comes to plot, characterization, and acting, The
Whisperer in Darkness was done on a shoestring and is excellent
all around. It just goes to show that
money does not equal quality (not that anyone had to be reminded of
Filmed in glorious black and white, this latest adaptation
of a Lovecraft story has the feel of a 1930's early talky horror film. Not the feel you get when you watch one now
(and don't get me wrong, many of those old Universal horror films are
great even today) but this movie recreates what it was like to see one
old creature-feature flicks back when you were 10-years old. It is a fun and chilling movie that will hold
up to repeated viewings.
Based on the 1931 short story of the same name, The
Whisperer in Darkness is the story of a quite instructor at Miskatonic University in Arkham Massachusetts,
Wilmarth (Matt Foyer).
He studies folklore and myths and has
recently been embroiled in a controversy.
After extensive flooding in Vermont, there have been several
sighting of strange and unearthly creatures floating in the flood
waters. He chalks these up to superstition
local recalling fables they heard as children, but some people insist
these creatures are real. One such
person is Henry Akeley (Barry Lynch),
from Townshend, Vermont. He sends
Wilmarth several letters describing the things that he claims are
One evening Akeley's son, George (Joe
Sofranko) shows up in Arkham with more than
descriptions: he has photographs of the
claw-like footprints that these strange creatures leave as well as a
one that his father had killed. Even
more, he has a recording of a ceremony that George claims is linked to
a local cult
that worships the creatures. There are
images of a strange, carved black stone that his father found in the
brought back to his house.
Enticed, Wilmark continues corresponding
with Akeley. The old man feels that the
black stone has some evil properties and agrees to give it to Wilmark. The professor is supposed to meet George at
the train station to collect the stone, but he isn't on the train that
supposed to be on.
Soon after, Wilmark received a
strange letter from Akeley, typed instead of hand-written, where the
claims to have had a change of heart. He
now doesn't mistrust the mysterious creatures and says that they're
misunderstood. He says that he has
valuable information for Wilmark, and that the scholar needs to travel
Vermont, bringing the photos and audio recording with him, and that all
Curiosity gets the better part of
the professor and he sets off, as instructed.
Once in Vermont however, he finds things not only stranger than
imagined, but stranger than he could imagine.
This is a great film. It's
clear that the creators knew what made
Lovecraft's stories so enduring and they were able to get that eerie
on the screen. The film doesn't revolve
around the creatures (as Clash of
the Titans did) instead it focuses on
creating an atmosphere and telling a story.
They use glimpses of creatures and shadows until the very end to
build the mystery and tension rather than filling the film with quickly
forgotten shots of monsters that don't really do anything to advance
the story. A feeling of foreboding permeates the movie, and I'm
sure that's exactly
what the creators were hoping for.
The acting was top-notch.
Matt Foyer, who plays Wilmark, stole
the show with his portrayal of the researcher.
He was serious and restrained in his performance, and managed to
his character seem like he had just stepped out of the 1920's. It's his acting that makes the movie the
that it is.
The other performers did their parts well too. Most
surprising was Autumn Wendel who plays
the young daughter of a man involved with the conspiracy that Wilmark
Usually those type of roles are given to the producer's niece or
something in independent
projects like this one, and it always shows.
Not so with Ms. Wendel. She is a
solid actress who was able to look realistically terrified without
overacting. I was very pleased with her
The look of the movie is very polished. Though
the origins of the production sound
like someone shouted "hey kids! Let's
put on a show!" the final result looks like anything but an amateur
construction. The cinematography is
excellent and I grew more impressed watching the extras.
The whole crew went the extra mile to make
sure they created the best film that they could, and it certainly shows.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 was very
good. The incidental music and sound
effects did a lot to help create an eerie atmosphere for the movie. It was usually raining and the sound of the
coming from the rear speakers was very effective and added a lot to the
film. The dialog was clear and easy to
hear, and there wasn't any background noise or hiss.
There are subtitles in (get ready for this extensive list...) Catalan, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch,
Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese,
Polish, Portuguese (Portugal and Brazilian), Romanian, Russian,
Swedish, and Turkish.
The 1.78:1 1080p black and white image looked very good. The
picture was clear and crisp, and the level of contrast was excellent.
a very small amount of mosquito noise, but you really had to look for
only anal reviewers would ever comment on it.
Aside from that, there weren't any digital defects.
This is a very nice looking disc.
Not willing to just release the film with good a/v quality,
the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society has included a slew of cool bonus
features. First there's a Blu-ray
exclusive commentary track by producers
Robertson, Andrew Leman and Sean Branney where they discuss the
and tribulations of bringing Lovecraft's story to the screen. One the video front, there's a 47-minute behind-the-scenes documentary which is
informational as well as several other short featurettes on the making
film, including a fun piece on shooting the most difficult shot in the
movie (and no, you won't guess which one it is.) Viewers
will find many deleted and extended
scenes and trailers too. Altogether this
disc has over 2 ½ hours worth of bonuses!
This is another bravura production from the H.P. Lovecraft
Historical Society. It has much more in
common with The Artist than the SFX
laden movie I compared it to in my introduction. Both
are excellent movies that successfully recreate
an earlier style of filmmaking. Like it's
Academy Award-winning contemporary The Whisperer
in Darkness does everything right and if it had been theatrically
across the nation, I'm sure it would have made a big splash. Give this one a look. Highly