Crucible of the Vampire
Following the discovery of part of an ancient cauldron buried in the basement of an old country estate, museum curator Isabelle (Katie Goldfinch) is sent to verify the artefact’s authenticity. However, she soon realises something sinister is going on, beyond the eccentricity of the family she stays with. This is Crucible of the Vampire, the latest release by indie filmmaker Ian Ross-McNamee, a striking and peculiar Gothic horror that unfolds like a strange fever dream. While the picture’s lo-fi and pulpy tones may be enough to turn many away, there’s a bewitching charm to the flick that keeps you watching.
One of the most unusual features of the movie is that everything is slightly off-kilter to some degree. Scenes end abruptly before jumping straight to the next; drinks can be served in a second flat; full days last minutes; and characters speak in peculiar terms, with the cast giving purposefully stinted performances – all of which creates an uncanny version of our reality where the rules of the narrative are possible. There’s no doubt that these stylistic choices will leave a foul taste in some viewers’ mouths, but the inclusion of an intriguing ghost story at the heart of the narrative makes watching for a little longer worthwhile.
When it comes to the horror element, the feature fails drastically. There are numerous times throughout where suspense is attempted, but without the knowledge of how to sustain it to deliver the scare, what’s left is clichéd walks down dark hallways that we’ve seen countless times before. Where the film does succeed, however, is with its synth score by Michelle Bee, which draws comparisons with Twin Peaks and It Follows, colouring the unique atmosphere with more pulpy goodness.
It’s not until the third act when events really get strange as things rapidly snowball into a delirium-induced climax where most (if not all) of the effects budget was spent. Keeping in spirit with the rest of the movie, the finale is ridiculous in both the best and worst sense of the word, overindulging in itself before culminating in an anticlimactic outcome.
Crucible of the Vampire is as mixed of a bag as you could possibly get. While it’s schlocky tones may be overpowering for most, there’s certainly a lot to sink your teeth into if you can stomach the strangeness.
Crucible of the Vampire is released in select cinemas on 1st February 2019.
Watch the trailer for Crucible of the Vampire here: