Friday, March 19, 2010

Through the Gates of Ennui: Sharing Timmis and Fierro's "The Silver Key" Adaption


Fans of HP Lovecraft know that film adaptations of HP Lovecraft stories have a shaky history at best. Scads of tales have been adapted, but very few have been remotely watchable. The only real gem of the bunch is the silent version of "The Call of Cthulhu" produced by the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society. The film is well done and captures the haunting tones of Lovecraft's story by rejecting any impulse to modernize the narrative or special effects. The Historical Society produced the film not only as a period piece, they produced the film "as if" it had been produced in 1926. In doing so, they created a genuinely enjoyable and powerful work. I look forward to seeing their to eventually be completed adaptation of "The Whisperer in Darkness."

Making films of successful and haunting Lovecraftian tales is difficult enough, but how difficult would it be to adapt a tale that is at its core problematic? Conor Timmis and Gary Fierro are two independent filmmakers who were brave enough to answer this question with their adaptation of "The Silver Key" entitled "The Silver Key." Cthulhu aficionado Ken Hite has said of what makes the tale so problematic, it's lack of true dread, "even Lovecraft didn't believe that "the oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is apathy," which is why there's a thriving horror literature, and tales of ennui are rapidly forgotten, dei gratia."

"The Silver Key" is a tale of ennui and not horror, but then again that seems to make it perfect for indie film fare.

The ten minute film is, like the HPLHS film, a silent film, but in this case they have updated the setting to the modern day. The use of daylight during the opening sequences of the film remove any weighty emotion introspection of the Randolf Carter character, haunting obsessive desires to retreat into childhood are better displayed at night, but the choice is a much less expensive choice than filming at night. There is a nice transition from bright to overcast/gloomy as the film progresses and couple of good uses of digital effects. One does wonder what the Yellow Sign is doing in the story, is the director implying that retreat into childhood leads to madness? The film runs 10 minutes. What do you think of it as an adaptation of this story?

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