I'm Sandy Petersen, and some people know me as a game designer (I wrote the original game Call of Cthulhu, for instance). I helped fund The Whisperer in Darkness, though I had no creative input (and expected none).
The movie is, in my obviously prejudiced opinion, a masterwork of taking an unfilmable Lovecraft story, and getting it not only on film, but in such a way to make it accessible to those who have not yet read the tale.
I don't understand the reviewer who says it seems like a mishmash of Lovecraft - has he even read the original tale? This movie was taken straight from it. Some characters are added to dramatize events which, in the story, are in the form of posted letters, but that certainly doesn't hurt the film. Yes there is a lot of dialog, but the camera is not static - things move, shadows lurk, and the dialog itself is terrifically ominous.
It does not follow the near-standard Hollywood 3-act-play sequence, to its everlasting credit. Instead the sinister elements keep building steadily until they reach a climax and even feature an artsy epilogic montage. Just as with the story, the evidence before Albert Wilmarth (the main character) keeps growing until he can no longer deny his eyes. Even the revelation of the alien horrors is done bit by bit. First we see a footprint, then a blurred photo, then a shadow on a wall, then on a curtain, then a single leg, then a brief shot of one walking offscreen behind some humans. Ultimately we see them fully and they are worth the wait.
But it's not just the aliens - every element of the story grows in this manner. As you learn the alien plan bit by bit, the horror and tension mounts.
Every death in the movie was unexpected to me. As a long-term expert in horror films, I'm used to being able to peg who lives and who dies often in the opening credits, so this was a nice surprise.
The movie has subtlety and class. One good example is the scene with the young girl, Hannah. Albert Wilmarth is hiding out with her in a barn, trying to avoid detection. He converses with her, and tells her of his own daughter, who died of influenza years ago. The scene is touching, but just before it degenerates into bathos, he offers to sing Hannah a song which he once sang to his own child, and Hannah shakes her head, and says, "No". Just in the nick of time! I saw an early version of the film, and this scene with the child is what convinced me to invest my money in this movie. The whole thing is very professional.
It is not an action film, though it contains action. It is a cerebral horror film. There are no "boo" moments, and every moment segues logically into every other. It is a tightly knit coherent hole.
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