At the dawn of the twentieth century, New Orleans is burdened with a terrible plague so consuming that the bodies of the victims are littering the streets. Times are understandably desperate….so desperate that Marie Laveau (grand daughter of the infamous voodoo priestess of the same name) can’t help…and if even voodoo is powerless you know you are well and truly in the shit. Before long the enigmatic alchemist Jacques St. Germaine arrives in town, and teams up with Marie to solve the pestilent problem. Having these two powerhouses of the arcane joining forces is fortuitous, as soon bodies (specifically those of prostitutes) begin turning up that are not the result of the disease, but rather the result of ritual rites involving the draining of blood. Soon seemingly half of New Orleans is trying to solve the case, from ham-fisted policeman to the residents of a local whorehouse, and as they try shocking secrets are revealed and innocent lives are caught in the balance!
Dinner With the Alchemist is not at all you typical indie fright flick offering. Rather it’s a expertly crafted Victorian mystery that plays it subtle with it’s supernatural goings-on. Aiding and abetting the story is some truly remarkable costume and set design that truly brings the late 1800’s early 1900’s to life. While all of that is essential to the film’s success, the true ace in the whole is the expert acting and chemistry between the film’s leads; Dan Istrate and Dionne Audain as St. Germaine and Laveau respectively…they are fantastic to watch and I’d love to see more stories featuring them.
The only real negative (and it kinda/sorta isn’t) that I had with Dinner With the Alchemist is that the multitude of stories present in the narrative took time away from the ‘A’ plot of St. Germaine and Laveau. I guess when you want more of what’s good in a fright flick that ain’t a bad thing, right my creeps?
Screenwriter Jenna St. John and Director Kevin Good have delivered something truly special; a spot-on period piece with enough thrills and supernatural overtones to satisfy fright fans that dig on things like Penny Dreadful or Dracula…highly recommended!
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