Directors: Freddie Hutton-Mills, Bart Ruspoli
Writers: Freddie Hutton-Mills, Bart Ruspoli
Stars: Ed Stoppard, Daniel Feuerriegel, Robert Glenister
Taking two prominent strands of low budget British cinema – gangsters and vampires – and combining them seems like a logical enough step. After all, many would argue that crime is a kind of vampirism; that criminals and vampires share an innately parasitic nature, the former feeding on the blood of capitalism while the latter feed on, well, blood. In cinema at any rate, the milieu of the gangster isn’t dissimilar to that of the vampire: they’re apart from society, they largely come out at night and they spend the daytime locked away from the world (albeit in docklands apartments rather than coffins, but the allusion is there). So yes, it’s a not outlandish path to take and one which has already been trod by both Hollywood (Innocent Blood) and here in blighty (Dead Cert).
Cryptic is a more recent gangster / vampire crossover that was made in 2014, although to a large extent it plays a game that it then ducks out of at the last moment. A motley bunch of criminals are assembled by a prominent hoodlum to guard a coffin which contains something very important. It’s a weird job, for sure, but one they’re willing to do because all of them have been losing men at an alarming rate, victims of a so-called vampire killer who is praying solely on the denizens of the underworld. None of them like each other very much; at least one of them is a psychopath; and in the meantime they’re getting picked off one by one by the mysterious ‘vampire’, their corpses sporting prominent bite marks to the neck. Is one of them the killer? And what exactly is it that they’re guarding?
It’s a simple enough plot which makes the most of the low budget by featuring a single location and a streamlined narrative. Although the plot doesn’t offer anything particularly new and features some rather juvenile elements – some of the hoodlums are just a little bit too ‘weird’ – it is surprisingly well constructed and maintains its own internal logic. The direction is steady if unspectacular and it benefits from a better than usual cast which is well led by Ed Stoppard and features agreeable supporting turns from the likes of Vas Blackwood and Robert Glenister.