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By ABBIE BERNSTEIN / Staff Writer

Posted: Jul 20, 2022 / 2:08 am

HP LOVECRAFT'S WITCH HOUSE Movie Poster |  ©2022 Horror Wasteland Pictures International

HP LOVECRAFT’S WITCH HOUSE Movie Poster | ©2022 Horror Wasteland Pictures International

Valuation: Not rated
Stars: Portia Chellelynn, Michelle Morris, Julie Anne Prescott, Erin Trimble, Shonda Laverty, Andie Noir, John Johnson, Joe Padgett, Solon Tsangaras
Authors: Bobby Easley & Ken Wallace
Director: Bobby Easy
Distributor: Horror Wasteland Pictures International
Release date: July 5, 2022 (digital/DVD)

Fun fact: HP Lovecraft’s 1932 short story Dreams in the Witch’s House is really partly about geometry. Lovecraft’s protagonist, Walter Gilman, is a mathematician trying to prove that certain forms and planes in relation to each other can create gateways to other universes.

That angle (pardon the pun) was adopted WITCH HOUSE BY HP LOVECRAFT, the latest adaptation of the story. It was made earlier than that MASTERS OF HORROR Episode “Dreams in the Witch-House” directed by the late Stuart Gordon – quoted in the “Thank You” section of this film – and written by Dennis Paoli. Before that, with no credit to Lovecraft or his work, it was the basis for the feature THE CRIMSON CULT, starring Boris Karloff and Christopher Lee, directed by Vernon Sewell, written by Mervyn Haisman and Henry Lincoln, based on a screen story by Jerry Sohl. There is also a video game version.

To the WITCH HOUSE BY HP LOVECRAFTDirector Bobby Easley and his co-writer Ken Wallace bring the narrative into the present and give the protagonist, now a woman, some life outside of her predicament.

Alice (in a Lovecraftian paradox as Michelle Morris in the onscreen credits, but credited as Portia Chellelynn in IMDB and in the promotional materials) is a graduate student in hiding from her physically abusive ex-boyfriend.

After living with her friend Kelly (Erin Trimble) for several months, Alice feels it’s time to find an apartment of her own. Her professor (John Johnson) suggests that Alice move into a room in an old house near campus.

Alice is delighted and raves about the uniqueness of the house’s design. She isn’t put off by the bluffness of the homeowner Edda (Shonda Laverty), nor by the fact that she’s given a very messy, albeit huge, attic room.

Edda’s niece Tommi (Julie Anne Prescott) is extremely friendly and helps Alice clean up in no time. But there are rats and nightmares about those other dimensions that Alice is trying to access…

what it’s about WITCH HOUSE BY HP LOVECRAFT is the general sense of chaos that anything could happen at any moment. Alice reaches a point where she can no longer distinguish waking from dreams, and we are dragged along with her.

Part of the action also takes place at Lovecraft’s famous (fictional) Miskatonic University, which acts as a courtesy tribute. We’re led to understand enough about “sacred geometry” to believe it’s a solid foundation for this kind of storytelling.

The spirit and colors of DP James Brenton’s black light-esque cinematography also feel consistent with Lovecraft’s descriptions.

Unfortunately, the latter also makes parts of the film so dark that it’s a bit difficult to make out what’s happening. That may be intentional, appropriate to the source material – Lovecraft often described images that are only partially visible – but it’s frustrating.

WITCH HOUSE BY HP LOVECRAFT In a way, it looks and feels like it was made in the 70’s. In particular, the film demonstrates the era’s disregard for how disparate elements fit or don’t fit together.

Supernatural orgies and discussions of “horror and pleasure” seem more Clive Barker than HP Lovecraft, and the concept of the Antichrist is clearly anti-Lovecraft. Women who show up to professional meetings in undershirts, and there’s a plain old self-reference in the form of Alice actually reading a Lovecraft book. None of this seems meant to be amusing, but neither is it thought-provoking or scary.

The house looks like a solid 19th century mansion that has its potential. However, it has no interesting architectural features that we can see, despite Alice’s enthusiasm for its construction. (It’s a shame the filmmakers didn’t have access to the primary filming location INCORPORATIONapparently built with “sacred geometry” in mind.)

WITCH HOUSE BY HP LOVECRAFT is an indie fever dream horror film. Its best quality may be that it makes older viewers nostalgic for the good old days of grab-bag fare at the Grindhouse.

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