Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Call of Cthulhu (2005 Film)

I'm not a fan of Lovecraft. I've read little of his work - my knowledge of what a raging bigot he was and how it influenced his stories has much to do with that.

But I love many of the stories told by storytellers that have been influenced by Lovecraft - Stephen King, John Carpenter, and Guillermo Del Toro. I've always meant to put aside my personal prejudices against the man and give his work a chance.

After all, people worship this guy's stories. So much so that, three years ago, an H.P. Lovecraft fan group financed and filmed an adaption of Call of Cthulhu, one Lovecraft's most famous stories, shot as if it was filmed in the same year as the original story was published: 1926. It rolled into work last week and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it.

It's a silent film, made in black & white. The filmmakers did their best to film their adaptation as if it was actually shot eighty years ago, while still incorporating some of today's technology. Digital effects are used, but only to create artificial film grain and to composite various practical elements in much the same way as they would've been done optically back in the day. Models, stop-motion animation, and plywood, two by fours, and painted muslin sets abound. The love and craft that went into this film impressed me more than any Hollywood blockbuster made in the last few years (Hellboy II excluded).

The film does an excellent job capturing the spirit of the era, more so than any other film I've seen. It's not actually scary, but the underlining sense of unease and dread that were so unique to the horror films of the 20's and 30's and 40's is there.

That, my friends, kicks ass.

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