Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Up Under the Roof

A few posts back, I mentioned that some filmmakers had done a short film adapting Manly Wade Wellman's short story Up Under the Roof', and how I hoped to get a chance to see it. I got my wish. Darin Read, the director of Up Under the Roof ,was kind enough to provide me with a copy of the movie.
I watched it this weekend. Watched it twice, in fact. I viewed the film, then reread the short story, then watched the movie again and I can tell you that the film was great. It's a beautifully done adaptation, very loyal to the subject matter, but with some nice cinematic touches. I think that's what most fans or readers want from an adaptation. Something that has reverence for the source but adds those things that only a movie can add. As the old saying goes, a book is not a film and a film is not a book. There's a happy medium in there somewhere. I usually think of my all time favorite film, The Maltese Falcon ,and how it is almost scene for scene Dashiell Hammett's novel, but filtered through director John Houston's perceptions. While I think one can go too far in sticking to a source (I think Watchmen did.) we all know how far someone can veer from it. (I'm thinking of Conan films, past and future here.)
Anyway, Up Under the Roof is a somewhat autobiographical story of a young boy (Twelve in the story. Ten in the film.) living a lonely existence among a family which often ignores him. The time period is the depression era, the 1930s. The story originally appeared in Weird Tales in 1938. One summer the boy begins to hear strange noises coming from the attic above his room and he slowly comes to realize that there is a malevolent thing creeping around up there, looking for a way to get to him. Of course his family, who seldom pay him any attention anyway, are no help and he realizes that he is alone in the dark with whatever it is that lurks above.
The film has a voice-over narration which consists almost entirely of Wellman's prose and this helps to set the scene. There are a couple of great visual bits extrapolated from the story which I won't go into detail about here because I'm hoping some of you will get to see the film. The period detail is good and the performances of professional quality. This has the look of a much bigger film.
The best thing about Up Under the Roof for me though is that it feels like Wellman's story. Some of it was even darn close to what I saw in may imagination as I read the story. Read has got some great director's chops. He knows how to tell a story on film for sure. Anyway, as you can probably tell, I was very impressed with Up Under the Roof. I think any fan of Manly Wade Wellman's would be as well. I've provided a link before but here it is again. Check out the trailer at:

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