If I were to try to compare the neon thriller Crucify to any other film I've seen, it would likely be something along the lines of Adam Wingard's low-budget yet mesmerizing Pop Skull, a psychotic experience of a horror film that introduced me to Adam Wingard and introduced WIngard to the world at large.
Crucify is a different beast of a film, but it left me feeling much the same way as did Pop Skull though perhaps less exhausted by it all. Described by co-directors J. Arcane and Paul Erskine, working together as Arcane & Erskine, as a neon noir thriller, Crucify is, indeed, quite the mindtrip of a film that descends into a maze of nightmares as two teens, Raven (Shanel Maida) and Nic (Dylen Michael Guiry), find themselves trapped inside a crime scene seemingly involving a domestic situation between Willa (Alina Lapteva) and Samson Loehs (Dorian Shine).
The story that unfolds, and I use the word "story" rather loosely here, is a difficult to describe experience that is likely better off left undescribed as there's simply no question that Crucify is a film that needs to be experienced to be believed. The crime scene in question is undeniably haunted, a semi-reflection it would seem of the fractured state of being between Raven and Nic, the latter who has just been denied a prom date by Raven when they suddenly, and almost inexplicably, find themselves amidst this nightmare and having to confront their own demons.
In case you're wondering, they both have some pretty serious demons.
If you're looking for a paint-by-numbers indie horror flick, Crucify simply isn't for you. This is an experimental work, bathed in neon and constantly possessing of an otherworldly aura and supernatural tones with more than a little religiosity attached to it. The ensemble cast is strong across the board, though what they do here is really less about traditional acting and far more about artistic transcendence. That's in no way a slight toward anyone in the cast - this is just an entirely different beast of a film.
They all rise to the challenge quite tremendously.
J. Arcane edits the film rather sublimely, more often than not allowing us to linger and immerse ourselves in Nic and Raven's immersive world. Lensing is off-kilter, as it should be, and it would be impossible to not give major kudos for production and art design throughout this most unique motion picture.
Sometimes, a film is less about cohesive narrative and more about atmosphere and experience. Crucify is definitely one of those times, a unique and inspired motion picture likely destined to get more than its share of WTF? reviews on Amazon Prime where unsuspecting late night browsers will stumble across it and simply be at a loss for what to do.
My recommendation? Sit back and give yourself to it.
I did and, in a weird and slightly twisted way, I enjoyed it.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic