It is a strange tradition that indie filmmakers with shoestring budgets inevitably want to make science fiction films. One has trouble discerning why; dramas and comedies are far cheaper and period pieces are just as exotic without the need for special effects. Yet the small film maker continues to pound out high-concept science fiction films regardless of their obvious limitations in this regard.
Then sometimes one of them knocks it out of the park.
The HPLHS already struck gold with Call of Cthulhu, a tremendously faithful 30s expressionist film based on the short story of the same name. With Whisperer they attempt to give a similar treatment to a more narrative Lovecraft story, this time in the trappings of a 1940s talkie. Success in this area is mixed- the feel starts off on target but quickly migrates to the atmosphere of a 60s creature feature... Not that there is anything wrong with that. If anything gives away the film's truly modern nature it is that the photography is a little too clean- again not a problem, and it left me wishing this movie was available on BD as well. The soundtrack is tremendously well done and moody, just like in Call.
Without giving too much away, Whisperer follows the short story faithfully until the end at which point it concludes with an action setpiece not present in the original plot. As if by way of apology, the new ending is actually much more grim than the original, placing the protagonist in a much dimmer situation.
Just as with Call of Cthulhu, the effects here are far better than the film's small scale would suggest. The alien Mi-go in particular are a wonderfully steampunk mashup of creature and clockwork, realized with a very effective mix of models, costuming and CG. Locations are beautifully shot, and the actors fairly douse the production in character- in particular Daniel Kaemon, who plays the cult leader Mr. Noyse, lapses into a fantastic Mid-Atlantic radio presenter accent when he is (unknowingly?) recorded during his dark rituals- it sounds like it should be corny, yet it is eerily effective.
Purists may gape at the liberties taken with the source material, but this is a fantastically solid sci-fi horror flick that is true to the spirit of its source material and for my money far outstrips Lovecraft films with much costlier productions. A must buy if you enjoyed Call, or if you are a fan of old-school horror literature and cinema. This movie proves that epic sci-fi is possible in a small-scale production, and one is left wondering how so many other filmmakers drop the ball.
NOTE: buy with confidence, packaging and shipping are prompt and thorough. Even the invoice that comes with this movie is fun.