Cryptic Plasm opens on a small town while its residents go about their daily lives. Suddenly a force appears above the town causing much bloody carnage, Morbid Vision style. This is a quick, yet effective pre-credit sequence that sets the tone for the rest of the piece.
Meanwhile, David (Joseph Olson, Blood Pigs) is seen searching for evidence of bigfoot in a wooded area. And, the search is successful enough with his footage sparking the interest in the mind of an unscrupulous TV executive by the name of Richard (Kevin Barbare, Fetus). A paranormal style TV show is planned with David as host/investigator. David asks for a barebones crew with only himself and cameraman Brian, played by writer/director Brian Paulin himself.
Their first investigation sees them tracking down a “lake creature”. This proves to be even more successful than the bigfoot footage. This section goes for a semi-found footage/POV style that’s new to Paulin’s bag of tricks. And, it works pretty well. In fact, this footage seems a lot less staged and more naturalistic than most I’ve seen throughout the years.
Next, the duo is sent to the town from the film’s opening. But, now it’s viewed as abandon with no evidence of the gory happenings we witnessed during that sequence. This section also goes for the mix of POV and regular styles to full effect. During their visit David becomes affected by the force that occupies the town. He and Brian later witness an extraordinary event that David feels is caused by a “wormhole”, an inter-dimensional rift that has produced a merging of two parallel universes. A touch of the science fiction is new to Paulin country. This seems to be a nod toward Lovecraft.
After an episode with an exorcism that goes terribly and rather bloody wrong, the pair’s standing with their producers becomes soured. In fact, their lives are in danger from them. But, this is least of everyone’s problems. The force from the town seems to have hitched a ride with David and it aims to cause havoc for all involved with the show’s production. This all leads to a long and gory conclusion that seems to draw its influences from both The Evil Dead and From Beyond.
Even though I would never call a Morbid Vision flick conventional, Cryptic Plasm is the most straightforward narrative since At Dawn They Sleep. Brian Paulin’s style for his previous three films have been both more complex and, at times, abstract. I favor that type of challenging style when it comes to his films. We just don’t see that too much with the mainstream anymore. But, with a running time of about seventy minutes, one would think Paulin could’ve developed a little more within the situations presented here, deepening the narrative and adding to the running time. When the producers send a hitman out to get David and Brian, it doesn’t really amount to much. But, this work could easily be seen as being stripped down to its basic as well.
Even though this current effort from Paulin doesn’t rate as high as his last three flicks, it’s still a worthy addition to his collection weird cinema. He always seems to be successful at invoking the proper mood for his work. And, even though I don’t believe there’s much scares in the film, he is successful at pulling off suspense and loads of eeriness. And, his effects work here is, once again, outstanding. The closing sequence alone has more imagination than any two or three contemporary Hollywood horror films combined.–Charles T. Cochran
Film’s Rating: 3 out of 5
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