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  Whisperer in Darkness, The What Would Yog-Sothoth Do?
Year: 2011
Director: Sean Branney
Stars: Matt Foyer, Barry Lynch, Daniel Kaemon, Matt Lagan, Caspar Marsh, Joe Sofranko, Martin Wately, Stephen Blackehart, David Pavao, Autumn Wendel, Andrew Leman, Lance J. Holt
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: There has been extensive flooding in this area of Vermont, a event which has caused the deaths of many animals, but oddly some of those animals do not resemble any known species, as if the mountains they were washed down from into the rivers contained some very strange fauna indeed. In his investigations, academic Albert Wilmarth (Matt Foyer) has uncovered some very rare notes to a work which had been published but was now believed destroyed, making this folder the only known record of what the author believed to be something unholy living within those mountains...

The Whisperer in Darkness, if you haven't guessed it from the introduction, was based on an H.P. Lovecraft short story, brought to the screen by the Lovecraft Historical Society who had previously pooled their resources to create a short film of one of his most famous stories, The Call of Cthulhu. That was made in the style of a silent movie as befitting the time the original was written in the mid-nineteen-twenties, so for this follow-up, based on one written in the early thirties, something more akin to the classic horrors of that period was aimed at, though in practice that meant filming the whole thing in black and white, and a vintage setting.

Which again was a great idea, to have that stylistic challenge to give the text a presentational boost, but in effect you would be unlikely to be fooled that this was anything other than a film from the twenty-first century, especially if you'd seen the works it was paying tribute to: Frankenstein, King Kong and so forth. Those special effects, when they arrived, were too plainly dreamt up on a computer to successfully place the production in the thirties, so no matter how many trilbys the cast sported, it wasn't quite the faithful Lovecraftian recreation that the filmmakers hoped for, not least because they invented some additions to the original to beef up the action, but were not quite in keeping with the iconic horror writer.

Not that this particularly harmed the end result, as it did contribute a couple of amusing conceits. First, it introduced that pioneer of recording weird true life mysteries Charles Fort (played by co-writer and co-producer Andrew Leman) who gets into a radio debate with Wilmarth who doesn't share his scepticism that modern science cannot explain everything and that mankind still has long way to go to do so. Fort doesn't hang around in the story, but his inclusion makes an interesting theme of what could have been your basic low budget monster movie which you would imagine Lovecraft would approve of, pondering lightly that there are more things in heaven and earth that are dreamt of in our philosophies.

Soon Wilmarth has to take a more active role in the plot, heading out to the Vermont mountains we saw in charming model form at the beginning, where he discovers an apparently very ill man, Akeley (Barry Lynch), who tells all at his farmhouse, another example of there being a shade too much talk in the film for its own good: it doesn't drag exactly, but you miss the economy of Call of Cthulhu. After that, Wilmarth realises he is being duped and reveals a scheme by evil beings in another dimension who have found a way to break on through to the other side, that is our side. This involves talking to a mind projection of a brain in a jar which our hero (Foyer has something of the William Sadler about him) converses with, and an invented last act which sees him try to save a little girl (Autumn Wendel) as he blocks the portal through which the dreaded Mi-Go will make their entrance. It's certainly more action packed than Lovecraft came up with, but panders to a modern sensibility, leaving a film in two minds. Music by Troy Sterling Neis.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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