By midlandsmovies, Jan 30 2019 06:01PM
Review - Crucible of the Vampire
The reign of vampire movies has slowed down in recent years due to a new breed of superhumans on the block. It’s apparent though, that this genre has not been forgotten.
Crucible of the vampire grabbed my attention for three reasons.
The opening scene. To set the tone of the movie, we’re introduced to an elderly gentleman stirring a pot in the woods by a creek. The story quickly develops when a band of witch hunters suspect the gentleman of performing necromancy.
This whole sequence is done in stark black and white. It could have benefitted from a few reflectors on set, as the details in some faces were completely lost. However, one scene, only lasting a second, which struck with me with awe, was when the gentleman was branded with a hot poker. The embers flickered in colour. The excitement of something so visually unexpected in the first three minutes threw me right into the story and I was eager to continue.
Jump to present day and we’re introduced to Isabelle, a museum curator tasked with verifying a piece of cauldron in a remote Stately manor in Shropshire. The family within the house are seemingly inviting, except for Scarlet, the daughter.
In a let’s-break-the-ice kind of evening dinner, the family’s strange dynamic is revealed. The acting was cold and lacked fluidity and I couldn’t help but imagine these guys had only just met behind the camera earlier that day. This was both unsettling and noticeable; there was no real chemistry made between the main actors in the first place.
That’s not to say they didn’t try. Katie Goldfinch, who played Isabelle, completely blew me away in the third act when she’s tied up and held against her will. Therein lays my second reason as to why this film engrossed me.
This particular scene was shot with Isabelle in a frantic, animalistic panic over all that had happened. Not only did the fast paced editing induce hysteria and leave you just as off balance as Isabelle, but also the surreal colours and offset music inspired a quicker heart rate than usual. This was the scene I was waiting for in amongst this slow paced movie.
As for the interior of the house; whether it was made to look this way or it was simply how it originally was, the house gave you chills.
There is nothing warm about the place and even if the house looked clean, you could feel dust everywhere. It was genuinely a perfect place for such a story to flourish, and only later in the film do you see more hidden layers of it.
The characters, however, remained two-dimensional. It could have had something to do with the costumes, or lack thereof. Even though it was set in present day and the need for modern clothing was apparent, the counterpart historical scenes were rich in the outfit department.
I would’ve liked to have seen a more subtle connection to the past. Instead, the only thing that connected them to the history of events was the cauldron and the obviously ominous black robes. The music was unnecessary at times. Some scenes would have benefitted more from pure silence to further enhance the feeling of remoteness. Harsh violins and deep cellos became a distraction at the wrong time.
The film failed to allow the audience’s imagination to ascend and develop, but instead the story was served straight up with no satisfaction of conceptualising anything for ourselves. This was especially apparent when an important character known as the “dark lady” would appear. Full ghoulish makeup, big black wig and scary unblinking eyes. If there was supposed to be shock value, it wasn’t there.
This leads me to my third and final premise on why I advanced deeper into the movie. With the dark lady, there was a genuinely creepy moment. This scene was layered with only hints of light, shot at night of course. It worked because so much was left to the imagination. When the dark lady unnervingly walks down the stairs, your eyes are fixated on Isabelle playing the organ. With an unknown source of light, your eyes suddenly dart to the lady coming from the shadows and then disappear again. The effect of having less really did mean more.
With the film’s genre almost forgotten, it was nice to be reminded that vampires aren’t dead yet. A more minimalistic approach to the sound would’ve matched the visuals well, and a deeper connection between characters could’ve driven the story deeper. The film is worth watching for some excellent stand-alone scenes as they are spread out evenly across the movie.