The Alchemist Cookbook

The Alchemist Cookbook is a certifiably strange object: a mumblecorish character sketch that gradually, amiably slouches into full-fledged horror. While the resolution doesn’t quite match the buildup, there’s plenty of oddness to savor throughout, amplified by a toweringly weird central performance from Ty Hickson. The camera keeps uncomfortably close to the main character as he works on his slowly disclosed plan, while barely tolerating the occasional visits from a semi-concerned family member. That’s about it, really. Any attempt at a plot description, though, neglects the small, absorbingly bizarre bits scattered through virtually every scene. The fact that it’s often genuinely scary helps, too. With an effects budget likely ranking in the single digits, Joel Potrykus’s film makes the woods a place where a Terrible Thing could be lurking behind every twig, especially—and most impressively—during the daylight.

by Andrew Wright
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Joel Potrykus
Ty Hickson, Amari Cheatom