While I don’t think that it reaches the same high tension found in Lovecraft’s original story, the film adaptation by The H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society (HPLHS) does an exceptional job at taking the liberty of filling in a lot of blanks by rounding out the story with much more definite events and including a third act that contains some new surprises that don’t disgrace the original story in the least. Though the narrative is understandably tweaked a bit to be more suitable for film, this still feels like one of the most faithful and near-perfect Lovecraft adaptations since the HPLHS’s CALL OF CTHULHU from 2005, though I honestly enjoyed THE WHISPERER IN DARKNESS a bit more.
Like with CALL OF CTHULHU, the vintage filming style (the organization’s patented technique: Mythoscope) is definitely something to marvel at. If you ever plan on watching this with someone who’s unaware of when the movie was shot; tell them that this is a really old movie, and I bet there’s a good chance they won’t notice that it was made in 2011. Although they might suspect that something is up when they see the cool looking CG monsters (The Mi-go).
In addition, the performances by the actors that play the key characters from the book are spot-on. CALL OF CTHULHU’s Matt Foyer returns as the Lovecraft protagonist, Albert Wilmarth, and he no doubt ends up being a perfect fit as the story’s skeptical Professor of mythology. He’s given the right look, and he does justice to Wilmarth’s skeptic-like nature, particularly during the scholarly debate scene. I rather enjoyed his frantic gestures and hand motions as the debate started to heat up. Also, Barry Lynch nails it as Henry Akeley and The Whisperer. He plays a great creepy old man, and so I was rather taken aback by the contrast between Barry Lynch’s personality while watching him in an interview and his role in the film. It’s always a mark of a good actor when you get surprised by how different they seem in real life. Furthermore, Daniel Kaemon deserves praise for his accurate portrayal of the suspicious Bostonian gentleman, P.F. Noyes, whose role ends up being a little more significant in the additional third act, exclusive to the film’s adaptation.
So, I’ve been enthusiastically describing the merits of this film from the perspective of a satisfied fan of the source material. But will it please those who’ve never read the story or viewers that may not even be fans of Lovecraft? Well for one, fans of 1930s horror should enjoy the throwback to what is a highly authentic classic filmmaking style that also avoids limitations by including modern techniques. And with the modification of the narrative to help make the story work better as a film, it succeeds in overcoming the challenge of bringing the story to life without being a strict retelling. The end result is its own evocative piece of work that I feel not only satisfies fans but could potentially introduce new readers to Lovecraft’s writing. And seriously, who doesn’t like a good monster movie?
I can’t help feeling thankful that as much care and attention went in to making THE WHISPERER IN DARKNESS as authentic and satisfying as it is. It’s a delightful treat and I am happy to own it. I’m looking forward to more and no doubt so are many others. During an interview that came as an extra with the limited edition, the filmmakers claimed that they are planning for what is next for the HPLHS feature films, and there were vague hints and whispers about a horror and Dunwich or something, and also something about a shadow and a place called Innsmouth.