THE WHISPERING MAN (a.k.a. The Surreal Project) ** Hungary / USA / UK 2019 Dir: József Gallai. 74 mins
Here’s a found footage chiller from young Hungarian filmmaker József Gallai (MOTH, SPIRITS IN THE DARK) that purports to have been “partly edited” by the Hungarian police who discovered the footage (and presumably also kindly provided ominous sound design and end credits). Likeable lead David Fecske is mourning the death of his grandma and documenting on video his trip to the family home, where he is sorting out the necessaries with his brother (Andras Korcsmaros). The men invite along a geeky paranormal “expert” to investigate the family’s allegedly cursed painting, known as “The Whispering Man”.
At this stage in the found footage game, few would be genuinely scared by a familiar scenario in which the protagonist’s psychological state fractures after a series of scenes in which he wanders around dark corridors, occasionally startled by strange figures. This one at least has a welcome sense of humour, with its onscreen references to Ed Warren, an “I Want to Believe” poster, jokey dialogue (“If you ever put down the fucking joystick and stopped masturbating…”) and a gag about JUSTICE LEAGUE’s CGI moustache removal. The screaming ab-dabs of the downbeat ending are entirely predictable, but the characters are more endearing than most of its kind and Gallai, while playing the horror straight, seems to be having fun – as evidenced by the on-screen warning of “Do not approach the painting…”
Review by Steven West