Nicholas Vince (Hellraiser, Night Breed, Mindless) aims for subtlety and hits the mark on directorial debut The Night Whispered. An old-fashioned chiller that plays out as a love letter to his early fondness for the M.R. James adaptations of the 60s and 70s, it’s a curious, impactful film that balances its mounting dread deftly against its moments of eccentricity.
Three friends miss the last tram home, and begin their long walk home on a cold winter’s evening. Some simmering tensions in the group are hinted at, offering a breadth of characterisation that’s difficult to convey in a mere eight minutes. The atmosphere of unease is offset (but not compromised) by the quasi-comic intervention of the mysterious Samael (Vince himself), a man out walking his dog who joins the friends on their journey. The conversation that ensues is awkwardly comedic without undercutting the atmosphere Vince is out to cultivate, and as a result, when one hears a whisper, turns, and mysteriously vanishes, the impact of the moment doesn’t suffer.
The Night Whispered knows exactly what it wants to be, and plays rigorously and skilfully to that mould as it ventures into darker ground. Those in search of blood-soaked instant gratification may want to look elsewhere, but this is an understated, quietly effective work that feels lovingly cut from another era.