Friday 29 March 2013

Dark Review - Thirst

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Thirst Review

By Casey Douglass

Directed by : Chan-wook Park
Written by : Seo-Gyeong Jeong , Chan-wook Park , Émile Zola
Starring : Kang-ho Song , Ok-bin Kim , Hae-suk Kim , Ha-kyun Shin

Whenever some kind of plague or disease is cutting a swath through mankind, one of the questions rarely answered by movies is “How would it effect a vampire?”
Most movies seem to view the vampirism itself as the plague, so in this respect, Thirst is giving you two afflictions for the price of one, in the manner of some backward pharmacy. Thirst follows the story of Sang-hyun (Kang-ho Song), a Catholic priest who volunteers himself for experimentation at an out-of-the-way institute that is trying to find a cure for the Emmanuel Virus that is proving fatal for anyone who is unlucky enough to catch it. It consists of blisters that grow and split, gradually ravaging the body of the poor sod that has contracted it, slowly spreading inwards until it affects the muscles and organs. Sang-hyun takes to it like a martyr, hoping it will bring him closer to God. He whiles away his time writing optimistic letters to his old patients and playing his flute, until the day blood gushes from the end of the instrument and he is rushed into surgery. He dies on the operating table and is covered over with a sheet. Before the doctors can even turn away, his croaky voice seeps out from beneath the white covering, reciting a prayer that becomes the last link to his old faith throughout the rest of the film. He has awoken a vampire, and as you can imagine, this is quite an awkward position to be in for a Catholic priest.

It isn’t all bad though, as the vampirism holds the EV virus in check, and also grants him the usual powers and desires that go hand in hand with any blood sucking story. The story is then set up for the conflicts and clashes of desire that are inevitable. It is very interesting to see the way he rigidly holds to his Catholic faith, but as the seriousness of the situation impinges on his mind, he loosens his hold a little. Things come to a head even more when he meets Tae-ju (Ok-bin Kim), the wife of his childhood friend. She is very unhappy in her life, running barefoot at night in shear exasperation and fantasy of what it would be like to really run away. Her restlessness and Sang-hyun’s identity crisis draw them together as two people unhappy with their place in the world and seeking answers.

Thirst is a very nice take on the usual vampire style film. There are no incisors that emerge with a clicking noise, nor are there any of the really fantastical abilities such as shape-shifting or mind control. This really helps the film in my opinion as it lets you concentrate on the human aspect a little more, and shows that no matter how powerful you might become, your frailties and weaknesses will still accompany you. The scenes of the film itself are shot in quite a dark way, much of the film taking place at night or in dim rooms. There are some scenes which are in brighter areas and they do add a nice contrast, and later in the film, one particularly violent scene takes place in the brightest room of the whole film, which I think sets up a nice comparison with the issues of dark and light and good and evil that the film plays with.

Thirst is a great watch and I think it is a film I will carry with me for a while, which is usually a good sign that a film appealed to me. If you enjoy subtitled films and vampires, it doesn’t come much better.

Rating: 5/5


My review is now up on Generic Movie Blog UK here.

I had hoped to have a short story up today but it's not quite ready yet so needs to bake awhile longer.