thu 25/04/2019

Crucible of the Vampire review - Neil Morrissey meets lesbian vampires, subtly | reviews, news & interviews

Crucible of the Vampire review - Neil Morrissey meets lesbian vampires, subtly

Crucible of the Vampire review - Neil Morrissey meets lesbian vampires, subtly

British country house erotic horror shakily intrigues

The house that dripped blood: Scarlet (Florence Cady) awaits a guestAll photos Screenbound

Ghosts of previous B-movies flit through this low-budget lesbian vampire flick. Part Hammer horror, J-horror, Witchfinder General and The Wicker Man, it is ultimately about a young woman in a very large house full of unpleasant people out for her blood. Director/co-writer Iain Ross-McNamee’s suggestion of a Brexit metaphor may not be wholly far-fetched, as we busily rip ourselves apart in a frenzy of auto-cannibalism. At least the cast here look good doing it.

The titular crucible is used in a black-and-white, English Civil War-set prologue to keep a female vampire’s undead flesh alive, till the sorcerer who conjured her and his magical pot are smashed by a Puritan posse. An evocatively dreamy passage sees the crucible later cast its spell on a country house owner in 1807, his ruin told through his diary as the actor silently moves through the Shropshire landscape, like a fated marionette in an impossibly old memory. Picking out a melody which will bring the vampire wraith to his side, the sequence has an eeriness the film’s modern-day body can’t match.Lydia (Lisa Martin) in Crucible og theWe are mostly concerned with Isabelle (Katie Goldfinch, pictured below), sent to that same Shropshire mansion to judge the authenticity of its half of the ancient crucible by her university boss (Phil Hemming, among several cantankerous character actors here). Isabelle is naive and nervous, even before arriving in countryside which the recent likes of Kill List have taught us to distrust anew. A brief exchange with her cabbie at the station is freighted with the subtle fears of a young woman alone in an alien spot with an unknown man. Matters don’t improve on meeting the manor’s vulpinely menacing and boorishly petty owner Karl (Larry Rew, embodying Little England power), his creepily polite French wife Evelyn (Babette Barat) and pale, coquettish daughter Scarlet (Florence Cady), who practically licks her lips at their visitor.

A Catholic upbringing which has left her with virgin’s blood makes Isabelle still more appetising, and ripe with sexual frustration. And what, meanwhile, are the motives of estate gardener Robert (Neil Morrissey, all gruff, grey-bearded gravitas, 20 years after Men Behaving Badly)?Isabelle (Katie Goldfinch) in Crucible of the VampireMorrissey’s name-recognition in an unusual role may have helped this brief and minor cinema release, while similar British horrors stay sunk in the VOD underground. It is well-cast, with a coherent if sometimes clunky script with little actual interest in the lesbian vampire tropes of salacious ‘70s Hammers or Jean Rollins. The erotic content is brief, and works because of Isabelle’s frustrated character. Crucible of the Vampire remains watchable throughout because of Goldfinch’s commitment to a role with roots in J-horror women buried in nightmare scenarios (The Ring, Dark Water), before a third act evolution into the more tooled-up, take-no-prisoners Last Girl defined by 2011’s American You’re Next. Cady’s Scarlet, too, comes into her own in the two women’s fierce final confrontation, even if the budget requires much time-filling running in circles to get there.

Style, scares and audacious ideas are all finally much too thin on the ground to elevate this film beyond its budget. Its threadbare world still intrigues more than most Hollywood A-pictures.

Her virgin’s blood makes Isabelle still more appetising, and ripe with sexual frustration

rating

Editor Rating: 
2
Average: 2 (1 vote)

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