Sean (Ty Hickson) lives alone in the woods with only his cat for company. He is working on a project that takes his entire attention and time. His only visitor is his friend Cortez (Amari Cheatom) who brings him his groceries and supplies. The longer Sean stays on his own, the deeper he gets into his project, tackling an ancient, occult mystery with modern means.
The Alchemist’s Cookbook doesn’t take on the most novel idea and would have probably worked better as a short film, but other than that it’s very well made and especially profits off its charismatic protagonist.
The Alchemist Cookbook is a film on a very small scale. It only has two actors (not counting the cat) and one of them is barely in the film. The entire thing is shot in a trailer and the woods it is parked in. So the film builds pretty much on Sean and with the character, on Hickson’s performance.
Fortunately, there’s a lot to build on there. Hickson is great and is the major reason why the film works and works past the 20 minute mark. He kept me glued to the screen.
But still, I did wish that the film would have been shorter (and it’s only 80 minutes long to begin with). Films that question whether supernatural stuff is actually happening or whether the protagonist is actually unraveling and imagining everything isn’t the newest stuff on earth and while The Alchemist’s Cookbook does have some cool ideas it builds on, it didn’t manage to hold the tension through the entire story.
That being said, it’s impressive with how little it needs to make an effective film. Almost as effective as Hickson.
Summarizing: Interesting, but not entirely where it should be.