"... some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the light into the peace and safety of a new dark age."
- HP LovecraftFilmed as an authentic, 1920's black and white, silent movie, The Call of Cthulhu is an amazing 47-minute piece of work, perfectly encapsulating the psychological horror of H.P. Lovecraft's iconic story.
Styling it as a movie that Lovecraft himself might have seen in the 1920s is a stroke of genius by the filmmakers of the HP Lovecraft Historical Society, as it allows for considerable leeway when it comes to the necessary effects required to bring the Great Cthulhu - and his island home of R'lyeh - to life.
The story itself is a puzzle box, an onion of layers upon layers, beginning with a man (Matt Foyer) in an asylum recounting to his doctor (John Bolen), how he was charged with sorting out the affairs of his great-uncle, Professor Angell (Ralph Lucas), upon the old man's death.
Going through the professor's papers, the man comes across a particular box of papers and files, and as he reads these we are taken back to a series of seemingly disconnected events, from the lucid dreams of artist Henry Wilcox (Chad Fifer), via a raid by New Orleans police on a savage swamp cult, and the discovery of a drifting ship with only a single survivor onboard.
We learn about the cult's worship of alien beings, Elder Gods, who are sleeping under the sea, waiting for the "stars to align", so they can awaken again, but little else to tie things together.
Later the man - having put his concerns about his uncle's affairs to one side - stumbles across further details of the mysterious ship, which sends him on a global hunt for the elusive final pieces of the puzzle.
Eventually, he arrives in Oslo and is handed the personal account of the ship's lone survivor.
Structured as stories-within-stories-within-stories, as characters recount events in which further characters recount other events, helps accentuate the disorientating, dream-like nature of the whole affair.
Which may well just be the ramblings of a mad man.
However, clues are slowly pieced together from different events to formulate a possibly complete picture of what links all these disparate tales... and what it means for the future of humanity.
I've been reading Lovecraft since I was about 12, so am probably biased, but I love this film and treasure my old DVD of it, for all its authentic, creaky, mannered staging.
By sticking close to the original text, the combination of Sean Branney's script and Andrew Leman's direction, within the self-imposed constraints of vintage filmmaking, make Call of Cthulhu one of the best, pure, Lovecraftian adaptations.
It isn't about gore and jump scares, the horror comes from the larger scale suggestion of what the narrative implies.
FILMS WATCHED: 7
NEW TO ME: 5