Written in 1926, just before the advent of "talking" pictures, The Call of Cthulhu is one of the most famous and influential tales of H.P. Lovecraft, the father of gothic horror. Now the story is brought richly to life in the style of a classic 1920's silent movie, with a haunting original symphonic score. Using the "Mythoscope" process - a mix of modern and vintage techniques - the filmmakers have worked to create the most authentic and faithful screen adaptation of a Lovecraft story yet attempted.
It's a student film and you need to expect that. But for a student film it's terribly well-done and clever, with nice acting, a genuine 1920s feel, and accurate to Lovecraft. Highly enjoyable. There is a lack of tension during part of it, and it follows the slowness of the silent movie format. But that's fine by me.
This is a fan movie but to my mind the finest adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft ever attempted, including a couple of the old Night Gallery TV episodes that took HPL on exceptionally well, and as runner-up, John Carpenter's Mouth of Madness, which gets the feel of the New England master of otherworld horror without actually adapting any particular story. Call of Cthulhu is all the more fantastic because it was made by a bunch of geeky guys (and a few geeky girls) on a no-budget, do it in yourself, back yard movie set made of two by fours, plastic wrap, fake foliage, all held together by what appears to be staple guns and hot glue. (This is not evident in the movie for the most part, but the DVD extras include a behind the scenes documentary almost as much fun as the film itself.) You do have to get with the idea that it is a SILENT FILM, and that it is shot in silvery black and white. (Mein got!). Furthermore, it uses old-fashioned text titles and classical orchestral music to carry off a simulation of 1930s cinema. And it is a darn good tribute that has the feel of its pulp novel sources, which are after all where Lovecraft‚¨"s work initially appeared, in the cheaply printed magazines like Amazing Stories. But don‚¨"t let the sense of nostalgia put you off for this is truly a post-modern affair. It is a loving attempt at reconstructing the look and feel of early cinema, but simultaneously makes visible the very impossibility of that goal. That self-awareness gives the film a serious playful quality that comes across in the sets, the exaggerated facial expressions, and music without compromising the earnest intentions of the makers by falling into a ‚¨Scamp‚¨ aesthetic. Once you see it you will agree with me by screaming into the night of the next gibbous moon: yog sothoth cthulhu cthulhu Naggath Nasaberth aiaiii aiaiiiiiiii!!!
I'd have to agree with the previous reviewer, overall. I'm a big Lovecraft fan, and had high hopes for this one after seeing the trailer online. Unfortunately, they actually stayed *too* close to the story, with the result that there's far too much exposition and slow material. That coupled with the silent approach -- which was a nice decision but difficult to pull off -- makes the movie very slow indeed. Some great visuals and good acting (nicely channeling Caligari and others) make the movie worthwhile for Lovecraft fans, but be prepared to make your way through a lot of slow points.