mag·nif·i·cent/magˈnifəsənt/ (adj.)

1. Impressively beautiful, elaborate, or extravagant; striking.
2. Very good; excellent.

Synonyms: splendid - gorgeous - grand - superb - glorious

WARNING: Some spoilers may be bound but I try to keep them light.

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Whisperer in the Darkness (2011)


     "I've spoken to them, Wilmarth."

The Whisperer in the Darkness (2011) is an independent feature film based on the short story by the same name by H.P. Lovecraft. This is the second film by the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society, their follow-up to the featurette The Call of Cthulhu (2005).

This film is about Albert Wilmarth, a professor specializing in folklore who follows up on some strange events happening in the hills of Vermont and stumbles upon a conspiracy attempt to ensure he doesn't tell anyone of what he's been told or sees.

The production value of this film blows me away. This is an independently financed film by essentially amateur filmmakers and it really doesn't feel that way for most of this film. Thanks to the magnificently chosen props, locations, sets and even low budget effects that really sell the story the film is telling.

The execution of bringing this story to the screen is really quite impressive. I think the first two acts are absolutely brilliant, and really intriguing. It's easy to get drawn into the mystery. There's a slight problem with the story in the first two acts in that the viewer is pretty much always two steps ahead of our protagonist who apparently is quick to take anyone's word for pretty much the entire film. But even this kind of works in the film's favor as the viewer pretty much suspects the typed letter and the strange events surrounding it is a trap and then the surprise of Akeley actually being there works very well and adds a strange and eirey level of suspense.

And lastly I have to mention the amazing score in this film by Troy Sterling Nies who also worked on The Call of Cthulhu and as you may remember, the soundtrack in that film was one of my favorite things about it. And the score here is also quite impressive.

The worst part of this film is the third act. I agree that the original story (which this film is  pretty truthful up until the third act) ends in a way that wouldn't make for a great film. But to me it's painfully obvious that the story strays in the third act. The third act is riddled with story conveniences left and right. Hannah's father who just decides to spill tons of relevant information and exposition to Wilmarth right before conveniently killing himself is just plain bad writing. This isn't to say I hated everything in the third act, I thought what the filmmakers tried to do by adding Hannah was a pretty decent addition (though not executed the best way) and I like the twist at the end quite a bit. But like I said it's painfully obvious that the third act doesn't fit the rest of the film.

One of the biggest improvements from The Call of Cthulhu is the acting. Sure most of the cast of this film was in that one, but here you can actually see they can act, it was just the silent medium that was holding them back. Overall I was impressed with the entire cast of this film, but I really got to hand it to Matt Foyer. I was really impressed with his work in this film as our protaganist, Albert Wilmarth he offers a very charming and delightful lead for the viewer to follow and get sucked into the world.

The other thing I love about this film is the cinematography. The black and white cinematography is really amazing here, far better than a lot of big Hollywood productions in my opinion. Great camera angles, masterful camera moves and editing (also done by cinematographer David Robertson) and and masterful use of light. It's absolutely beautiful and really one of the major reasons you should watch this film.

The Whisperer in the Darkness (2011) is a great follow-up to The Call of Cthulhu (2005) I think the HPLHS is really on to something here and I can't wait to see what their next film production will be. I also wish more independent filmmakers were making films like this because if they were I'd think the state of contemporary film would be in a much better place.

4/5 Stars.

Happy watching!

That's it for my Lovecraft film streak this year on the 31 Nights of Macabre Movies but tune in tomorrow for something different that is still heavily influenced by the work of Mr. Lovecraft.

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