HP Lovecraft is a beloved figure in horror literature, and there is no shortage of adaptations of his work in films. Bobby Easley’s HP Lovecraft’s Witch House is another of those, but this time, it’s of a lesser adapted work called The Dreams in the Witch House. HP Lovecraft’s Witch House begins with graduate student, Alice Gilman, moving into the historic Hannah House, a building with an ominous reputation. Alice is determined to prove that different dimensions exist, and in the process, she unknowingly unlocks a gate to terror you would not believe. So, how does Bobby Easley’s take on Lovecraft’s The Dreams in the Witch House hold up?
Let’s start with the good. Visually, HP Lovecraft’s Witch House is solid. The set design for the Hannah House is beautiful, and it creates an appealing backdrop to a significant portion of the film. I was surprised, to be honest, with how good it looked as I was unimpressed with the initial house that the film starts in. The real star of the show here, however, are the dreams that Alice has. These are visually impressive and look weird and unnatural, something that fits well with a Lovecraftian story. The use of colors really creates an unnerving environment that feels hostile and alien. Environments play a big part in horror films, and if the environment is lacking, the whole film will struggle. In this situation, the film struggles as a whole, but the environments are a bright point and really buoy the whole thing.
Unfortunately, that’s where the good ends and the bad begins. I have to start with the acting. Portia Chellelynn stars as Alice and is overall unforgettable. Not the only character in the film, she is the one we see the most, thus giving me the most to work with. It’s not that the acting is bad, it’s just boring. At no point did I feel like Alice was experiencing any sort of fear, despite the film implying differently. Unconvincing might be the best way to describe the performance. Moving beyond Alice, the acting as a whole isn’t of the highest standard, with multiple scenes feeling awkward. There doesn’t seem to be much chemistry between any of the cast members. That’s not even counting the sex scene that felt like something you’d see at midnight on Cinemax in the mid 2000s. If you’ve ever stumbled on one of those channels, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Cheesy music, awkward acting, and just an overall feeling of, “Is it over yet?”
Finally, I want to talk about how HP Lovecraft’s Witch House feels, and the answer is: seedy. It’s clear that Bobby Easley and Ken Wallace took some creative liberties with the source material and changed it into what they wanted, which feels more akin to trashy ’70s B-movies than anything that Lovecraft ever created. I’m not going to speak on behalf of someone who has been dead for 85 years, but it’s hard to imagine that Lovecraft would look upon this approvingly. There are many lingering shots of naked females, and it just felt unnecessary. This isn’t pearl clutching by any stretch of the imagination, but I feel like this is a modern trope tacked onto a decades old story. Feel free to show the female figure as much as you’d like, but have it mean something more than an excuse to being sex into the equation.
This isn’t the worst adaptation of an HP Lovecraft story, but goodness, it’s nowhere near the best. Lovecraft is a difficult one to adapt to the screen. With a theme on the fear of the unknown, a medium that focuses solely on showing things to the audience can make it difficult to build the dread that one of his stories often does.
A Lovecraftian tale is built on atmosphere, which HP Lovecraft’s Witch House does do well! I found the Hannah House to be beautiful, and it felt like that could lead to a solid film. Unfortunately, the acting and the overall sleazy ’70s vibe of the film really brings it down to a level that makes it impossible to recommend.
Take a look at the trailer below, and let us know what you think! Have you read the original story, The Dreams in the Witch House? Will you be checking out HP Lovecraft’s Witch House? Talk to us in the comments!