The Whisperer in Darkness (2007) is a silent microfilm, with an unusual sometimes effective score. This was the first Lovecraft outing for director Evelyn Kriete of New Haven, Connecticutt, a leading light in both Lovecraft & Steampunk fandoms.
Her little film, alas, doesn't convincingly capture the look of the silent film era as it wishes, & the sets are too minimal to convey locations convincingly. The intertitle cards flash by too fast & the young director should really fix at least that, even if nothing much can be do about the rest of this noble effort of a poor film.
Albert Wilmarth (Christopher Bolste) receives a letter from Henry Akeley (G. D. Falksen) claiming evidence of weird creatures that walk the Vermont woods, leaving star-shaped footprints. He is convinced they are from outer space, & apt to do something terrible to him if they realize how much he knows.
The first third of this half-hour film is dedicated to the correspondence that develops between Wilmarth & Akeley. This of course is massively boring, consisting chiefly of images of the two men seated in their respective minimal sets, alone, writing letters to each other. Samples of the letters, in the form of intertitle cards that flash by too swiftly to read in their entirety, convey the story of the aliens from planet Yuggoth.
Lovecraft could pull off comical-sounding made-up names like Yuggoth, but anyone unfamiliar with Lovecraft's creatures will probably find this film version unintentionally comedic when not outright dull. The context & presentation is all wrong & just doesn't permit the viewer to overlook the abject absurdity of all that happens.
A lot of horror is all too easily rendered laughable, when the trick is to sneak up on the viewer or the reader with unexpected conviction in favor of the absurd.
There's no such conviction in this little film, so we are left with only the absurdity.
And while, as written literature, a tale might be told as a series of letters, to a reader those letters will convey something quite different from sitting still writing letters. The failure of The Whsiperer in the Dark to actually be adapted to the pictorial environment of cinema means the film doesn't really function as a story well told.
As the letters progress, Akeley becomes more the hysterical in his communications, convinced the Yuggothians are closing in on him. They speak to him in the night, revealing the existance of a portal through the galaxy.
This information "plunged" Wilmarth "into blackest terror," though nothing in the audience sees would've convinced anyone Akeley was anything but a nutsack.
Then a letter arrives reassuring Wilmarth that the Old Ones seek only peace & friendship, & after all there is nothing to worry about. In essence it's a "never mind, my bad!"
Wilmarth with riotous naiviety is not at all skeptical of this sudden change of tone. Rather, he is encouraged to hurry to Vermont to see it all for himself.
The next third or so of the film has Wilmarth on a rustic country road, arriving at a Vermont farmhouse (which in one shot looks more like a highschool portable). Akeley has changed from the rural dude writing frightened letters, whom we previously observed. He is now a pallid weirdo in fez & enormous clown-prop dark glasses, which we may suppose is the alien fashion, for Akeley is no longer Akeley.
He tells Wilmarth about extraterrestrial sciences "utterly stupendous," though by now the film is seeming utterly stupid. He speaks of a harmless method of extracting the brain.
Fez-head points to some king-size plastic slurpy cups on the fireplace mantel, arranged in a row with alien doohinkies.
He claims there is already an extracted brain in one of the slurpy cups right now, though he calls the slurpy cups "cylanders."
Wilmarth proceeds to follow Akeley's hilarious instructions, which result in Wilmarth's mystical invitation to join the cosmic journey, & reassurances that the extraction of his brain is nothing to worry about.
The third act regards Wilmarth's belated realization that there's something "terribly wrong" about all this. For some odd reason he is not excited by the prospect of having his brain transferred to a slurpy cup.
Akeley is now physically missing, probably having passed into the cosmos. In his place is a flimsy plastic drama mask probably picked up by the director at the dollar store.
Wilmarth, conveying a horror of cheap masks, runs like hell from the house & through the woods, pursued by an alien who looks a bit like a guy in a slightly mishapen beekeeper's outfit. Walmarth looks really scared & blinks his eyes, remembering the cheap plastic mask. The end. Nothing impressive in this one!
Continue to three adaptations of HPL's:
The Statement of Randolph Carter
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