Film Review – The Whisperer In Darkness

The Whisperer In Darkness

Directed by: Sean Branney

Starring: Matt Foyer, Barry Lynch, Autumn Wendel

Three stars

Review by: Julian Wright

We like to honour films of years gone by, don’t we? Not that there is anything wrong with that. Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez recaptured the grotty charm of those nasty 1970s grindhouse films with the Grindhouse double feature (complete with negative scratches and missing reels) and Oscar rivals Hugo and The Artist reminded us of the magical origins of film and the beauty of silent films respectively. It seem the timing was perfect for this faithful adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s 1931 tale that also serves as a love letter to 1930s creature features.

Crab creatures, bottled brains and an alien invasion. And all in glorious black and white. What a hoot! Reportedly eight years in the making, uber fans from the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society have captured the campy fun of the era, but that is where there film making skills end. This looks and sounds like a heap of fun, but without a grasp on pacing, it doesn’t always translate to a modern audience.

Folklore professor Albert Wilmarth (Matt Foyer) dismisses several letters from a gentleman living in the Vermont mountains claiming there are alien creatures roaming the remote land, until the letter writer sends his son to make contact. Confronted with photographic proof of the existence of these seemingly dangerous beings (well sort of – pics of footprints and a strange arrangement of huge boulders), Albert makes his way out to the farm to investigate.

His rain-soaked travels evoke a sense of dread as he crosses paths with some odd folk along his way out to the middle of nowhere. Albert is still cynical of the existence of aliens but clearly on edge by the trip. Once he is there, he makes some mind shattering discoveries.

There are plenty of chuckles to have along the way, particularly with the enthusiastic performances of the cast who give it 100 per cent and the references to the cheesy elements of the genre at that time. But with an almost unbearably slow pace, those with short attention spans may find themselves nodding off long before the final third reveals. With a tighter grasp on timing, this could have been a much punchier and memorable homage. Or maybe I am just not familiar enough with Lovecraft’s work to be fully immersed in this love letter exercise.

The Whisperer In Darkness screens as part of Revelation Perth Film Festival on July 12.

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