“The Alchemist Cookbook” Is Funny, Unsettling, And Strangely Brilliant



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Posted August 21, 2017 by

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Deep in the woods, Sean (Ty Hickson) lives an isolated existence in a ramshackle trailer. Recusing himself from society, Sean lives on a diet of Doritos and Gatorade and spends his days, with his cat Casper, conducting strange, scientific experiments. Searching for a way to acquire enough wealth to never have to go back to the human world, Sean turns to demon-summoning, and he has no idea what terrors await.

I had zero expectations going into “The Alchemist Cookbook”. I had not seen a trailer, I had not read a synopsis, hell… I hadn’t even seen any of writer/director Joel Potrykus’ other films. It might be a coincidence, but I swear most of my favorite movie-watching experiences start out that same way. Knowing nothing about a movie, and just taking a chance.

Potrykus created something so indescribable… so strangely hypnotic… so weirdly unsettling that the film’s images are still running through my head the next day. The audience is given little exposition in his film. There are many questions and very few answers, but I still found myself transfixed. This movie is so different, and such a thing that no other movie is, that I feel apprehensive about trying to explain it any further. I just want other people to watch it, and then talk to me about it.

With all of that said, “The Alchemist Cookbook” is certainly not for everybody. The first half of the movie moves rather slowly, but it is the random images of Sean mixing beakers of unknown chemicals and running out of his meds that make what happens in the later parts of the film so effectively jarring. The dialogue is sparse and the mood heavy. Throw in the ominous shrieks and howls coming from the woods surrounding Sean’s trailer and you feel like you are watching a nightmare you vaguely remember having.

I have been on a very fortunate streak of watching good to great movies this summer. I was afraid “Alchemist” might be the one that broke that streak, but instead it was one of the most pleasant (if you can call it that) surprise movies of the year for me. I feel like I should have my cinephile license revoked, for not being familiar with Potrykus as a filmmaker. You can rest assured, though, that I will familiarize myself with his work after seeing this movie!




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