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I Bet You Didn't See... The Whisperer in Darkness


This is part of the "Lovecraft Series"...

As I have mentioned, I am a big fan of the American horror writer H.P. Lovecraft. I am a proud member of the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society (HPLHS) and, like the earlier review of The Call of Cthulhu (2005), this is their production.

Albert Wilmarth is a professor at Miskatonic University and studying folklore around Massachusetts and New England after an enormous flood. After having debated (and lost) with a known writer about whether folklore could be based on some kind of truth, a young man visits them with strange tales and photographs of the land surrounding his father's farm.

Barry Lynch as Akeley

Henry Akeley had been communicating with Wilmarth about the phenomena, and Wilmarth's doubts are put aside at the new evidence. A bigger piece of evidence, a black stone supposedly important to strange creatures and men living in the area and harassing Akeley, never gets delivered to Wilmarth despite being promised. This doesn't put him off though and, disregarding a warning from a colleague, he visits Akeley at his farm.

Upon arriving at the station and being greeted by a mysterious Mr Noyes, Wilmarth ends up walking half of the way in a rainstorm. He gets directions from a neighbour who is very nervous about him. Finally, Wilmarth arrives at Akeley's, who is supposedly not too well. Sat in the dark, whispering at best, they discuss the creatures harassing Akeley, although he now appears to be on their side.

Without ruining anything, Wilmarth decides to escape and, with the help of the neighbour's daughter, gets out of the house and tries to end the horror that has occurred on the hillside.

A shot heavily styled on the old black and white era

Now, in true HPLHS style, this film is done in black and white. However, though set in the 1920s, there is plenty of practical and special effects. For example, the creatures (the Mi-Go) and computer generate, as are the faces projected by the weird machine used. As for practical effects, the airplane scenes and the use of miniatures for establishing shots are well done. Nothing is too complicated, and the story itself is well paced. Leman and Branney have done very well again to manage their limited resources.

Wilmarth (Foyer) in the Akeley home

The Society use a pool of actors for their radio productions of Lovecraft's stories and some have carried over into the films. Matt Foyer plays Wilmarth well, while Branney and Leman both make appearances. I think Barry Lynch steals the show as Henry Akeley, although most of the film he is Akeley in a sinister form.

If you know the story, this is slightly amended for the screen but not as drastically as major productions might do, nor how some less interested independent film makers might be. But the team have framed their shots to match the older style from the peak of the black and white era, and that does so much for the film.

The Mi-Go

The Society crew have certainly established a style for their films and I think it's very clever and a smart move. They haven't tried to be too complicated or too smart with things, and the scenes that might look "cheap" add to the aesthetic of the piece.

It is well worth a watch. It is considered one of the best adaptations, which you would expect from people who live for the author of the story.

Directed by: Sean Branney

Written by: Sean Branney, Andrew Leman

Based on: "The Whisperer in Darkness" by H.P. Lovecraft

Release Date: May 19, 2011

My Rating: 8/10

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