Watched May 01, 2012
Carl Ingebretsen’s review:
The team behind 2005's "Call of Cthulhu" returns, now with a talkie! But is it as good as their previous film?
WARNING: Minor spoilers abound.
First off; no. It isn't. There's a lot to like in this, but it also has some major problems, the biggest being the actors. In Call of Cthulhu this hammy, over-the-top type of acting worked perfectly: it was the only way you could show emotions clearly in silent films. In Whisperer, it often comes off as a bit silly. That's not to say that any of the actor are good - I quite liked Matt Foyer's portrayal of Albert Wilmarth, and the hammy acting of Don Yanan as Dean Hayes, Stephen Blackehart as Charlie Tower and Daniel Kaemon as P.F. Noyes works fantastically, likely because their characters are just as over-the-top as the performances.
Then to the plot. I have yet to read the Lovecraft-story this is adapted from so I can't really compare, but I thought they'd done a good job, even if some parts were a bit silly. The first part of the film, before Wilmarth visits the farm, was in my opinion more interesting than what came after - Miskatonic University, with its scientists, folklore-experts, cult-investigators, authors believing in the paranormal... This was where the film shone. It was fun to see these characters debate over material, with and without proof. The long radio debate was excellent - funny, smart and realistic, even if the topics discussed were so out of this world.
The film drags on a while, and the second act was a bit of a bore, to be honest. Hopefully I'll enjoy it more on a rewatch. The third act felt a bit out-of-place for a Lovecraft-film, but it worked, and the last 10 minutes of the film pumped the score up another 1/2 star.
There was one thing I was worried about when I started watching this, and that was the dialogue. With their last movie being a silent adaptation of Lovecraft, I wondered how they'd fare with dialogue - not only is 20's dialogue hard to write, and can easily come off as cheesy, but this is Lovecraft we're talking about - he rarely had dialogue in his writings, preferring to sum up the conversations in (excellent) prose. The worrying was entirely uncalled for though, as the dialogue is very good. I had no problems with it at all, and there were a couple of times where I thought "that was a great line" and so on.
All in all, this is a good Lovecraftian story and a fun horror-throwback. Some of the elements are a bit silly (not a huge fan of the brain-machine for instance), but mostly it works. Personally I liked The Call of Cthulhu much better, but I'm thinking Whisperer might grow on me. We'll see. Either way, I'm looking forward to more from HPLHS. It's clear they have a love, as well as a knack, for this type of thing, so I say "keep it up!". It's not like they have anything to lose.
Well, except their sanity. But I think that went out the window a long time ago.