Categorized | Entertainment


By Paul Wang—

There is no greater horror in the universe than awaiting the release of a long-promised Lovecraft film. I’m speaking specifically about the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society’s long delayed adaptation of The Whisperer In Darkness, whose teaser trailer has been bopping around YouTube since 2007. The HPLHS did such an amazingly faithful job of bringing The Call Of Cthulhu to the screen back in 2005 that, with it, they immediately established themselves as the absolute authority on the translation of Lovecraft’s writing to celluloid, a feat which few considered possible. Granted, they may not be as commercially well known nor as financially successful as the works of Guillermo del Toro or Stuart Gordon, but where those guys relied on over-the-top cosmic splatter and CGI tentacles to draw in the diehard fans (not that there’s anything WRONG with that), the HPLHS quietly retreated into the past, using the techniques which would have been available in Lovecraft’s time and altering nothing for the sake of audience appeal.

Somehow, I think Howard would have approved Die Farbe Herr Director Sean Branney (The Color), the most faithful adaptation yet of Lovecraft’s story The Colour Out Of Space. An elderly man has gone missing. Following a scanty trail of clues, his adult son John follows him to Germany, fearing for his safety and wanting only to bring him home. Upon his arrival in a small village, John literally bumps into a lifelong resident, one Armin Pierske, who remembers John’s father from the final days of WW2. Eager for any information regarding his father, John sits himself down and listens to the long, harrowing and – quite frankly – unbelievable tale that Armin has to tell, a tale that begins well before the war with the fall of a comet. Harmlessly slamming into the countryside of southwest Germany, the comet leaves a sizable crater and attracts a team of scientists as well as curious farmers.

The comet is abnormally hot, appears to be hollow and is rapidly shrinking. Samples are taken and tested, but nothing much comes of it. Soon, the space rock is gone, seemingly melted away into the soil below. Soon thereafter, rumors begin to circulate about the Gartener family, a father, mother and three sons who maintain a farm in the bottom of the valley. Summer has brought them a bumper crop, but the fruits prove to be rancid despite their healthy appearance. The winter snows do not stick to the ground around their farm.

It is whispered that the trees seem to move their branches, even when there is no breeze. Concerned, Armin pays the family a visit, only to find that the insects have swollen to three times their normal size and that Frau Gartener herself has gone quietly mad.The eldest son soon follows. Then the youngest disappears. Everyone in the valley begins avoiding the family, as if their misfortune and madness is contagious. And it may well be, as Armin slowly comes to realize that whatever the comet carried with it on its descent to earth has worked its way into the well water and is taking over all who ingest it.

Filmed in black and white and primarily spoken in German (thank god for subtitles), it is obvious that Die Farbe did not have a huge budget to work with. Effects are minimal and the cast is utterly unknown. I should point out that these are all good things, and work very much in the films favor. There is no CGI to rely on, no name actors to carry it. Rather, the filmmakers do the unthinkable: they create a genuine atmosphere of unimaginable dread and unspeakable horror, using shadow, suggestion and rare splashes of that Nameless colour in a few select frames. In short, they did a damn good job. Die Farbe is subtle in its mounting horror, nurturing a dark dread deep in your bowels with every shot. Leave it to the Germans. We know how to gross you out on the deepest psychological levels.

Lovecraft worshippers and devotees of German Expressionism alike, take heed: seek out and view this film at your earliest possible convenience. It’s a dark, noisome little gem that will squirm into your subconscious and lay its eggs in your sanity.

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