H.P. Lovecraft’s Witch House is a flawed, loose adaptation that simply doesn’t work

There is no dearth in terms of the adaptation of cosmic horror writer H.P. Lovecraft’s works, be it the delightfully subversive horror drama series Lovecraft Country, or Richard Stanley’s beautifully rendered Nicolas Cage-starrer, Color Out of Space. However, Bobby Easley’s H. P. Lovecraft’s Witch House does not fall into the territory of objectively good, nuanced adaptations, as everything from the way the core narrative unfolds to the way in which cosmic horror tropes are used, come off as lazy and uninspired.

H.P. Lovecraft’s Witch House opens with graduate student Alice (Portia Chellelynn) being forced to move into a mysterious house as a tenant after she feels unsafe due to her abusive ex-boyfriend threatening to hurt her. While Alice’s predicament is serious, and her decision to move into a dingy, moldy attic makes sense within this context, the film does not delve into why she could not just say with her friend Kelly (Erin Trimble), who graciously offers her to do so on multiple occasions. Nevertheless, Alice moves into this new house, despite coming across characters who are clearly hostile toward her in passive-aggressive ways, deciding that she feels safer in a room that does not quite feel right.

H. P. Lovecraft's Witch House

H.P. Lovecraft’s Witch House, courtesy October Coast

Throughout the course of the narrative, we learn that the house has a history of ritualistic murders and that a former servant, Keziah (Andrea Collins), was accused of kidnapping children, and later burned at the stake for this very reason. There seems to be a troubling connection between this past event and more children going missing in the present day, however, this aspect of the plot is furthered in the most uninspired of ways.

Alice is posited as a student of sacred geometry, wherein her thesis investigates the possibility of architectural structures being a gateway to other realms. While doing her research, Alice stumbles upon an Enochian altar cloth in the floorboards of the attic, which she unceremoniously rips open without understanding the power latent within such a magically charged object. As time progresses, Alice had vivid dreams about child sacrifice and occult rituals, and these dreams bleed into her waking reality, but this does not stop Alice from exercising a basic level of discernment when she goes about her everyday life.

H. P. Lovecraft’s Witch House fails to understand the core appeal of Lovecraftian themes, resulting in a film with clichéd, hastily-executed tropes. 

Another glaring issue with H. P. Lovecraft’s Witch House is the way in which it conflates witchcraft with occult studies, flinging different forms of magic together without taking the time to look into the esoteric aspects of books, concepts, and symbols. A key example is the film’s use of the Witch of Agnesi, a mathematical concept that can be applied to sacred geometry, which Alice somehow connects with the ritualistic opening of gates, which has no academic basis, nor is it justified within the context of the suspension of disbelief.

H. P. Lovecraft's Witch House

H.P. Lovecraft’s Witch House, courtesy October Coast

Although the film is clearly limited by budget, some artistic choices, such as the deliberate portrayal of the protagonist in her underwear almost all the time during the ritual sequences, come off as fetishistic, adding a layer of absurdity that works against the film. On the performance front, the dialogues are unnatural and stilted, with the exception of the Keziah scenes, which manage to portray a more-or-less compelling villainy, although that is also undercut by the ending.

H. P. Lovecraft’s Witch House is currently available on-demand and on DVD, and the film was released on July 5, 2022.

What are some of your favorite H. P. Lovecraft adaptations?  Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.