The Call of Cthulhu

The Call of Cthulhu is currently available on instant Netflix and Amazon Prime.

The Call of Cthulhu (2005)

“While sorting through a pile of documents he inherited from his great-uncle (a professor at Brown University), a Boston anthropologist learns secrets about the mysterious Cthulhu cult that fascinated the late professor and likely decided his fate. Adapted from one of writer H.P. Lovecraft’s most famous stories, this silent picture blends vintage and modern cinematic techniques to reproduce the look of a classic 1920s horror film.”

“Great Cthulhu waits dreaming in the sunken city of R’lyeh. The stars will again be right, and He shall return.”

The Call of Cthulhu has a lot of guts and I do not mean that in the normal horror movie way. In spite of this being the age of 3D, CGI, torture porn, and 7.1 surround sound, The Call of Cthulhu is filmed as a silent black & white movie. Director Andrew Leman made a brave design decision to film this as it would have been seen when the original story was published in 1926. Being a low-budget film, director Andrew Leman was also a producer and worked on the miniatures, props, and puppets.

Writer Sean Branney’s script adheres reasonably faithfully to H.P. Lovecraft’s original story, The Call of Cthulhu. John Carpenter’s In the Mouth of Madness is the film that feels the most Lovecraft-y but Branney’s script is certainly the most faithful of the many Lovecraft adaptations made, from Corman’s Die, Monster, Die! and The Dunwich Horror to Stuart Gordon’s From Beyond and Dagon. Branney is also a producer on the film.

The silent black & white movie gimmick extends to the opening credits, presenting them as if they were from that era with a wonderful orchestral score. The gimmick, or style choice if you prefer, also does not end up overstaying its welcome. If you don’t end up liking it, the movie is only 47 minutes long.

Acting is broadly theatrical with over-emphasized hand gestures and arched eyebrows – again much the same as in a 1920s silent movie. Nobody in the cast seemed to stand out – for good or ill. There is good use of a fog machine, lighting, and some torches – some nice visual techniques straight out of a 1920s movie.

People Watch: None of the actors from this low-budget film has really made it yet. Director Andrew Leman appears as Unhelpfu; Bureaucrat. Writer Sean Branney appears as Pub Man. They would team up again as director and writer for another Lovecraft adaptation, The Whisperer in Darkness (2011).