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DVD Reviews

HTF DVD Review: Thirst

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#1 of 1 PatWahlquist


    Supporting Actor

  • 735 posts
  • Join Date: Jun 13 2002

Posted November 18 2009 - 12:12 PM

The genre of the vampire picture, really just a sub-forum of horror in general, seems to be going through a real identity crisis. On the one had, you have the hot and ever-brooding vamps, such as Anne Rice’s Lestat or Stephanie Meyer’s Edward or any one of the fifteen trendy vampire shows out there now. On the other had, you have the really damn creepy ones, like Eli from most excellent Let the Right One In and now you can add another alt.vampire to that rank in the form of Sang-hyun (Song Kang-ho). In director Park Chan-wook’s latest bloodbath, that much of the precious liquid is actually necessary to the plot, where in Park’s previous films, specifically Sympathy for Lady Vengeance and Oldboy it served to shock more than anything else. Here, Sang-hyun starts out as a Roman Catholic priest who debates his beliefs and the preciousness of life with his mentor and monsignor. He volunteers to take part in a vaccination process of a deadly, fairly undefined disease known as EV. Part of the process requires a blood transfusion, and in the process, he is infused with contaminated vampire blood. Sang-hyun dies from the disease, but he is miraculously resurrected. Over the next few days he finds he only hungers for blood, taking hits off other patients IV drips.
Sang-hyun, now being seen as a miracle survivor and imbued with healing powers, is approached by a childhood friend’s mother asking him to pray over her cancer ridden son, Kang-woo (Shin Ha-kyun). It’s questionable whether Kang-woo really has cancer or one of any other afflictions based on his numerous displayed symptoms. Kang-woo’s wife, Tae-ju (Kim Ok-vin) lives a very indentured, submissive lifestyle under Kang-woo and his domineering mother. Tae-ju sees Sang-hyun as a way out as she begins to tempt him physically and emotionally. Once Sang-hyun inadvertently reveals his new nature to Tae-ju, she does what she must to escape her self-proclaimed abuse at the hands of Kang-woo. What follows is a protracted, bloody and violent journey through the deadly sins as faith, belief and life is compromised at every turn.
Park is very well known for indulging violence in any of his pictures. He portrays it as one of life’s necessities and it must be expressed most passionately. In Oldboy, for instance, there is an amazingly protracted fight scene, captured seemingly all in one slow tracking shot, where the main character fights numerous attackers. There’s violence, mayhem and blood all over the place, but it serves the story. While these same things serve the story here, obviously, it just takes forever to move the story along. In watching the picture I was mentally editing down scenes making it a much tighter and compelling picture. All of the actors are good in their roles, infusing each character with enough humanity (or maybe “vampireness”) that we still can relate to their changes even when they become blood sucking fiends (oh, the metaphors that could be drudged up here). Park delivers a visually rich picture, particularly when Sang-hyun and Tae-ju hole up in the whitewashed apartment, and I just wish he had taken some of the run time of the picture and devoted it to more purely visual storytelling. Thirst starts to get me over my bias against all things vampires, just not enough for me to sink my teeth into the genre more than occasionally.

ISO "Lost" ARG prints from Kevin Tong, Olly Moss, Eric Tan and Methane Studios.  PM me if you want to sell!

All reviews done on a Marantz VP11S1 1080p DLP projector.

Displays professionally calibrated by Gregg Loewen of Lion AV.