This 2010 ‘Whistle and I’ll Come to You’ is a remake of the BBC’s ghost story of the same name from 1968. And even now, a scholar arrives in a coastal town, moves into a remote hotel, wanders the desolate surroundings and witnesses things that are becoming increasingly troubling. So much for the original. Also regarding some additional issues that the scholar has to deal with: the wind that whistles past the hotel, nightly creaking and scratching noises, his tossing in bed, his lying awake … it forms, along with the grief and guilt about his admitted wife in the almost empty hotel a suitable setting to create another meritorious ghost story, provided that everything is dosed to the right degree.
However, soon enough, the differences from the original also stand out. These do not do the remake too much good in quality. Director DeEmmony wants to evoke an atmosphere that was too ominous from the start. For this he first of all frequently records dark-sounding music to accompany the events in his film adaptation. This may be effective enough on its own, but most of the time it does not come across as such as there is usually no reason to include it. This also applies to the many scenes in which all kinds of everyday and irrelevant events occur. Despite the atmospheric contribution it apparently has to make, these often come across as superfluous or meaningless.
In addition, what the professor encounters and what should cause real worry is designed too little or not always as effectively. The not too terrifying figure on the beach .. why would the professor panic for it? The light in his hotel room that doesn’t work anymore … not so disturbing either. The intermediate images of Parkin’s demented woman – again with all too dark music in the background – don’t add much either. At a later stage it becomes clear what meaning should be assigned to her emotionless facial expressions, but then things come across so exaggerated and far-fetched that it doesn’t make much sense. Not that this film does not have its merits. The surroundings are beautiful, atmospheric and deserted and there are a lot of disturbing things for the professor, but unfortunately these have not been portrayed convincingly enough. In that respect, it begins to look more like the nightly screeching the professor hears, the thumping on the door of his hotel room, and the close-ups of the terrified facial expressions of the fear-crippled Parkin. However, it is not decisive enough, because they are parts that are too small and inadequately designed.
Furthermore, there are some questions behind the disappointing denouement. In the original from 1968, the professor learned the lesson that there are things that, in all scholarship, cannot be defined by him, a lesson that seemed appropriate to his arrogant and know-it-all attitude on several fronts. In DeEmmony’s film adaptation, however, it is about a denouement that the admittedly rational-minded, but more socially-feeling, lonely and emotionally tormented professor certainly did not deserve. A denouement also where with regard to the ring found by Parkin the necessary question marks can be raised regarding its relevance. It ensures that this remake does not compete in quality with the original from 1968. A somewhat dark atmosphere is indeed present, but the too forced and frenetic attempts to evoke it, in combination with the too inadequate design of the te few actually disturbing things undermine this film adaptation too much. It’s not thrilling and the viewer has to make an effort to keep the attention because the story is repeatedly slow.
Nevertheless, acting veteran John Hurt shows neat work as the lonely professor Parkin tormented by thoughts of his demented wife. It’s just a pity that Hurt’s character, due to the lack of effective threats and the insufficient creation of a really disturbing atmosphere, has been wandering around for a long time. Solid work continues by Sophie Thompson as the hotel owner, although she gets little screen time to emphasize Parkin’s loneliness. Furthermore, from the perspective of the story, admittedly meritorious work by Gemma Jones as Parkin’s wife Alice, but too little effective given the shortcomings of this production. All in all, unfortunately, this remake is not a high flyer. Admittedly interesting for fans of Hurt and for connoisseurs of the original from 1968 to take a look at it but otherwise nothing to write home about too much.