Mark (Dávid Fecse) is a vlogger with a horror and paranormal activity web series called Chasing Fear. He’s covered some bizarre circumstances and visited some spooky places, but for the first time he’s covering a story he has a direct connection to. His grandparents had a painting, one that became legend in the family for being frightening and strange. After his grandmother’s recent death, Mark and his brother inherited everything in her home, and Mark is determined to find the painting and track down the history of it – and why they all get the same awful feeling inside when they see it.

The painting, which his family called The Whispering Man,  is awful, grotesque, and disturbing. When it first comes into sight it almost looks like a blank black canvas, until you notice the entire photo is a eyeless face, ghostly greys and whites barely visible over the matte black background. It’s difficult to discern if the face is neutral, grimacing, or frowning. The mouth is wrenched into a strange expression in spite of the hollow emptiness of what should be eyes. Mark, thrilled with his finding in his grandparents’ belongings, takes the painting home to begin research on its history.

Before Mark can get too far into his research, though, he notices a presence around him. The more he looks at the painting and investigates the more strange he feels, and the more strange things happen. Mysterious power outages, the radio playing randomly. He can’t sleep and when he does he has night terrors. He soon discovers there’s a deep history to the painting itself and the person who painted it, and in investigating that finds himself in the middle of a living nightmare. The legends are true, and the consequences of keeping The Whispering Man in his home will be his ultimate destruction, just like his father and his father’s father.

THE WHISPERING MAN is another brilliant entry into the multitude of found footage films. As easy and gimmicky as this often is, it works well for a story such as this. The intimacy of the scares is what sells the fear factor of this story, and a wide lens cinematic shot simply wouldn’t allow for the same sort of immersive experience. THE WHISPERING MAN, as the title may suggests, also fully utilizes a remarkably subtle series of sound effects and nearly intangible cues to create both atmosphere and an unsettling, creeped out feeling that most viewers may not be able to place. Using ambient sound, you as the viewer constantly feel something is just behind you, about to reach out and touch you. This is a rising trend in horror films, though it’s been used for decades and to great results by everyone from Cronenberg to Lynch to Noe, it’s recently found new mainstream success in films like Midsommar. THE WHISPERING MAN stands out from other cheaply made and under-produced found footage films for a few reasons, but the sound design by Bálint Szántó (who also wrote the screenplay) is a standout among standouts.

Unfortunately, while THE WHISPERING MAN is a welcome surprise coming from this genre, it also has some hiccups and cliches along the way. The ending was fairly expected, including the stereotypical “these tapes were found…” intro and outro (which I’m sure most of us could rattle off nearly verbatim). The poster for this film is, quite simply, atrocious and nearly laughable. The tagline, “Don’t Let Him Out”, equally silly and anticlimactic. THE WHISPERING MAN was originally titled “The Surreal Project”, and I’m certainly glad that changed prior to release.

THE WHISPERING MAN rocks a stellar cast, the standout amongst them being Fecse, who carries this film on his capable shoulders. András Korcsmáros as Mark’s brother Tommy, and Dávid Kiss as his best friend and ultimate skeptic Abel also give impactful performances.

THE WHISPERING MAN is a story of ghosts, tangible and intangible. Family ghosts, ghosts of your past, and ghosts of things we can barely understand. Paranormal and paranoia go hand in hand in THE WHISPERING MAN, leaving us with a satisfying, spooky tale that has a solid foothold in what can be an oversaturated and overrated genre.

8/10 stars

 

The Whispering Man
RATING:UR
Runtime:1 Hr. 14 Mins.
Directed By:
József Gallai
Written By:
Bálint Szántó