CALL OF CTHULHU, THE (director: Andrew Leman; screenwriters: Sean Branney/based on a short story by H.P. Lovecraft; cinematographer: David Robertson; editor: David Robertson; music: Troy Sterling Nies/Ben Holbrook/Nicholas Pavkovic/Chadfifer; cast: Matt Foyer (The Man), John Bolen (The Listener), David Mersault (Police Inspector John Raymond Legrasse), Noah Wagner (Captain Collins), Patrick O’Day (Johansen), Ralph Lucas (Prof. George Gammell Angell), Chad Fifer (Henry Wilcox), Clarence Henry Hunt (Castro); Runtime: 47; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Sean Branney/Andrew Leman; HPLHS Motion Pictures; 2005-silent)
“Haunting labor of love tribute film.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Some loyal members of the H.P. Lovecraft historical society from Los Angeles collected $50,000 and made this haunting labor of love tribute film in 2005, shot on video and using the”Mythoscope” process (a mix of modern and throwback techniques), as if it still were 1926. It’s a 47-minute black-and-white silent movie attempting to film it just like they made them back in the day, featuring intertitles drawn from Lovecraft’s supernatural horror text and a wonderfully rich symphonic score. Director Andrew Leman and writer Sean Branney, big fans of Lovecraft, seem to be having fun in getting to the vibe of the silent screen days and allowing the actors to be as hammy it was back in the days of vintage films. Their stylistic filmmaking venture truly gives us the feel and look of a silent film (it also lets the film drift between camp and serious film-making). It includes some creative cheapo special effects, such as a Louisiana swamp created out of papier-mâché and tissue paper and a sunken oceanic city built from plywood.
The atmospheric Lovecraft short story is set in 1925 as a Professor George Angell (Ralph Lucas), of Brown University, has collected, since a meeting of archaeologists at St. Louis University in 1908, in a locked metal box paranormal papers and exotic news clippings from adventurers who experienced the unusual powers of the Cthulhian mythos (a godless, cosmic construct of chaos that’s antediluvian in origin). The metal box is located by his grand-nephew, after he’s deceased, and these remnants of research lead the anguished narrator (Matt Foyer) on a maddening search for their meanings. These papers tell the terrifying truth about the Cthulhian mythos and the cultists who worship at its altar, pointing out that the call of the Cthulhu can cause the person to experience delirium, psychosis, and possibly even death. The creatures it creates, the Great Old Ones, arrived on this planet from outer space and went off into dream-filled sleep long before the humans came into being.
For such a short film, there’s lots of plot to grouse over. The filmmaker takes a story many would say is unfilmable and makes it cinamatic and nightmarishly entertaining.
REVIEWED ON 9/22/2009 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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