Crucible of the Vampire (Screenbound Pictures)

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Purposely harking back to the old-school atmospheric horror of the 70s and 80s, this low-budgeter also has more than a whiff of those famous Ghost Stories for Christmas about it. Trust me, we just sat and watched them all again over the festive period.

Sent to verify the authenticity of a newly unearthed artefact from the seventeenth century – the long-lost half of a crucible – Isabelle (Katie Goldfinch) finds herself in a quiet English town, staying in the kind of run-down stately home that usually abounds with spirits. The owners, Karl and Evelyn (Larry Rew and Babette Barat) are suitably eccentric, and their daughter Scarlet (a wonderfully entertaining turn by Florence Cady) is suitably sex mad; sniffing and later wearing Isabelle’s underwear for starters.   

As her work continues, Isabelle experiences more and more bumps in the night and finds out about the grisly fate of a former groundskeeper from the current one, Robert (Men Behaving Badly’s Neil Morrissey, the biggest name in the production). She also finds herself succumbing to Scarlet’s vampish tendencies, in more ways than one. But it all kicks off when the two pieces of the crucible are brought together, the legend promising that it has the power to resurrect the dead. The question is, will Isabelle make it out alive?  

The title of this one is actually misleading, as you not only have vampirism in the movie, but witchcraft and the supernatural as well: so, three for the price of one! It’s very well shot for something that’s so obviously been made on this kind of budget, and for the most part the cast give pretty solid performances – Goldfinch especially coming into her own as a tough ‘final girl’ during the manic last half hour. The story is fairly slight, but the nostalgia factor carries it along and the surreal bits will have you comparing it favourably to films like The Wicker Man.  

It’s encouraging that a movie like this one is also getting a cinematic release on 1stFebruary, something that bodes well not only for the genre but for other fledgling filmmakers. With more money and a beefed up script you get the feeling that, like people such as Mike Flanagan before him, director Iain Ross-McNamee will only go from strength to strength. A movie with definite bite! Paul Kane

Crucible of the Vampire goes on limited cinematic release on the 1st February and is released on DVD on the 4th of February. Pre-Order / Order it here

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