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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

Crucible of the Vampire
(Blu-Ray & DVD Dual Format)


Starring: Neil Morrissey, Katie Goldfinch and Florence Cady
Distributor: Screenbound Entertainment
RRP: £19.99 (Blu-Ray & DVD Dual Format)
Certificate: 15
Release Date: 04 February 2019

In 1649, an associate of Matthew Hopkins, Witchfinder General, breaks an old necromancer’s caldron in two and hangs the man for witchcraft. Cut to 2017, and young assistant curator Isabelle is sent by the museum, for whom she works, to check on a claim that a Shropshire house has discovered half of the caldron (the museum already possesses one half). She is welcomed by Karl and Evelyn and strange daughter Scarlet. Pretty soon Isabelle begins to suspect the house harbours a deadly secret...

The backstory of when the first half of the caldron is uncovered is acted-out very convincingly, along with the revelation that a dark queen was put in the container along with the blood of her victims and, in a magical ceremony, brought back… changed. Her name on the caldron has been carefully scratched-out. The diarist fled the house, leaving a warning. So, who is the dark queen, the obvious vampire of the piece? The mother or the daughter? Or neither? When Isabelle fully reveals the second half of the antique, Karl insists it cannot be removed from the house. He instructs that the first half should be sent down to the house (a recipe for disaster, I would have thought!). The two halves match, as expected, but now a dark figure is seen in the house, and Isabelle has seen too much… Karl, his wife and daughter believe they are promised immortality, but these things never pan out.

After watching so many dark, grainy and atmospheric horror thrillers from America and elsewhere, it’s a pleasant surprise to view a home-grown crisp-clear sunny disposition film like this. The vampire title initially put me off; there are so many dull vampire films out there and I suspected this one wouldn’t be any different. I’m pleased to be proved wrong. This one is more like a ghost story, with a mansion house setting, noises, rumours and a half-glimpsed figure. Many of the mood pieces, chases and atmosphere takes place during the daylight hours, which is really refreshing and offers no respite with the dawn. Overall, it is beautifully filmed, but it does have its faults. Some of the dialogue is stilted and unnatural, any flames are cartoonish CGI, and there’s a yokel (a la Friday the 13th) who says, “Bad things happen to people who go there.”

Isabelle is assigned a room in a part of the house which doesn’t have electricity, and given a torch! This is a rather contrived manner of creating atmosphere where there would perhaps be none. Isabelle also falls for the oldest trick in the book with a drugged drink, when she suspects Karl is up to something. I would say, however, that the good points outweigh the bad. Brian Croucher is very good as Ezekiel the necromancer in the black and white filmed opener. Neil Morrissey is convincing as the gardener, too, although he is woefully underutilised. The shaking camera techniques and quick cuts emphasise the general feeling of unease, as does the atmospheric and enhancing soundtrack by Michelle Bee.

It’s far from perfect, but Crucible of the Vampire does focus on the characters and how they relate to events, rather than focussing on the ‘monster’ of the piece – which is how it should be. It’s an entertaining film to watch, and a promising progression by co-writer and director Iain Ross-McNamee.


Ty Power

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