Thursday, October 6, 2016

Joel Potrykus & his loony-tune protagonists return with THE ALCHEMIST COOKBOOK

TrustMovies was a big fan of the movie Buzzard, bizarre as it was, and so he looked forward hugely to whatever its writer/director, Joel Potrykus might offer up next. Well, that "whatever" opens this week, and it is something quite else.

I have not viewed a movie this annoying and utterly unengaging in a very long time. In the couple of days since I watched it, I've been mulling over what made it such an negative experience for me. To that end I've come up with a theory or two.

In Buzzard, Mr. Potrykus (shown at left) had a perhaps equally crazy and unlikable protagonist. But there, we see much more of the guy's interaction with others. We also learn much more about him. In THE ALCHEMIST COOKBOOK, our sociopathic jerk protagonist (named Sean and played by Ty Hickson, shown below and further below) is someone we learn next to nothing about in the course of this 82-minute movie -- except that he is partial to devil worship and seems to be trying to conjur Belial all on his own. What Mr. Hickson is asked to do, he does just fine. Unfortunately, he is asked to do damned little.

The character of Sean begins crazy and only goes further down that same path. As a character, he's pretty nearly a cipher. As for interaction, he has a friend (played by Amari Cheatom) who visits and brings him supplies, but their interaction basically amounts to the rather tried-and-tired "Fuck you" "Fuck you, too" sort of thing.

There is one scene involving the wrong kind of cat food -- yes, there's a cat here (above, center), and also eventually an opossum (or phonetically/ ungrammatically, a possum) -- in which both actors are allowed to show us something that approaches actual "behavior." They do, and briefly the film comes to life. And then it's back to the basics of would-be scares and horror -- of which there are practically none. Unless you scare and get horrified very easily (for instance, if you imagine that The Conjuring was the least bit shiver-provoking).

I'm almost ready to suggest that Mr. Potryus is trying to update Blair Witch and conflate it with any number of other witchcraft and let's-go-into-the-woods-'cause-they're-scary movies that we've seen over the past decade or so. He manages a few scenes that hint at scares, but all this could also be going on only in our protagonist's mind. Either way, there is very little real content here, though the music is often deafeningly loud and ugly. For my taste, The Alchemist Cookbook is a distinct come-down from Buzzard. But maybe you'll have a different reaction. Good luck.

The movie is being distributed by Oscilloscope Laboratories, which is opening the film in an unusual manner this Friday, October 7, when The Alchemist Cookbook will be available worldwide for pay-what-you-wish via BitTorrent Now, before (or in one case, simultaneous with) its screening debut in (very) select theaters across the country. You can find those various theaters by clicking here and scrolling down.

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