In the space of just a few years horror cinema has gone from being a niche genre to one of the most popular and mainstream. Even pompous film critics have embraced what they ignorantly term ‘elevated horror’. However, whilst it has become the norm to see slick and stylish movies on the big screen, independent film-makers have quietly been going about their business for decades. In the grand traditions of Amicus and Hammer’s slower-paced films of the 1960s and ‘70s, Iain Ross-McNamee feature debut evokes both nostalgia and is a fresh take on classic horror.
Isabelle (Katie Goldfinch), a young museum curator, is dispatched to the countryside to verify a discovery in the basement of a stately home. Her boss believes it’s the other half of an ancient artefact which is already in their possession. She is welcomed by the seemingly hospitable owner (Larry Rew) and his wife (Babette Barat) and daughter (Florence Cady). When it becomes clear that there’s something nefarious going on, with the help of the gardener (Neil Morrissey) she must discover the truth before it’s too late.
Crucible of the Vampire gradually builds up its tension and intrigue, keeping you on edge until the bloody finale. This is heightened by an unsettling soundtrack and inventive cinematography. Mixing 17th century history with the present, Ross-McNamee conjures up a tale which is both creepy and intelligently crafted. The acting is good and the house provides a fitting backdrop. Crucible of the Vampire is a slow-burning tale of mystery and terror.
Crucible of the Vampire is out in cinemas from 1 February and released on DVD, Blu-ray and digital by Screenbound on 4 February.