Thursday, December 3, 2009
Director: Chan-wook Park
Writers: Seo-gyeong Jeong and Chan Wook-park
Starring Kang Ho-song, Ok-yin Kim, Hae-sook Kim, Ha-kyun Shin, In-hwan Park, Dai Suh-oh, Young-chang Sung, Mercedes Cabral and Eriq Ebouaney
The vampire film is a tried and true sub genre of the horror film and every so often it gets reinvigorated. The latest stem in popularity, mainly is due to the Twilight phenomenon, which is primarily geared towards adolescent female teenagers. And a lot of the modern vampire films, books and TV shows are following in its footsteps for better or for worse. Thankfully Chan-wook Park's Thirst has come to breathe new life into it and it really succeeds. The film like most good vampire films is at its heart a doomed love story, but it also is very sensual and overtly violent, with some great bits of dark humor sprinkled throughout the film. At it's most basic the film makes me think of a vampiric version of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Though it is more sad and frightening than lovely. This film is a great alternative to films like Twilight and well worth a horror and vampire film fans time. I have not seen a vampire film I have as thoroughly enjoyed this much since 30 Days of Night.
The plot basics are this, Sang-Hyum (Ho-song), a priest volunteering at a hospital, decides to volunteer for a secret test that is developing a vaccine that will hopefully eradicate a deadly virus. The virus takes over his body and he nearly dies, but somehow he miraculously recovers. But, as time passes he discovers that the testing has transformed him into a vampire. After this, He fights internally withe the carnal pleasures that taking someone's blood brings out in him.. Soon, he runs into a old childhood friend Tae-ju (Kim) who asks him to help him her out of her abusive family relationship. Old feelings come to rise and soon he finds himself in a illicit relationship with her and he cannot seem to pull back away from it. She reveals a dark side with each more insidious thing she gets him to do. Now he wonders, if he can stop her and what it will cost him that he has not lost already.
This is a expertly done vampire film. Park's direction is flawless, he has lost none of his deft touch since Oldboy. The way he slowly sets the stage for what you are about to witness is amazing. At first, the film seems to be primarily a love story, but then he changes direction and it becomes a bloodbath of Fatal Attraction proportions. The script is very good too, you really empathize with Sang-Hyum and feel his pain as he struggles with his obsessive love that will not allow him to see any of the faults with his lover. Tae-ju is another great character who starts out as what appears to be a being of pure innocence, but as the layers are pulled back you see how malevolent she is and always was. The ending of the film has some of the best moments of black humor I have ever seen in a film and I was busting a gut as I was watching it. The cast is great as well. Ho-song is a great protagonist with a dark side he is trying to suppress. You never lose your siding with him, which is always a hard thing to do in a film like this. Kim is magnetic and overtly sexual as the victim who turns into a predator. She gives a great performance and is definitely the best role in the film. The SFX and effects are great. The film can be very disturbing and graphic at times and they show this very realistically on screen. If you are sick of the Twilight crap and want a fresh and innovative take on the vampire legend, definitely seek this one out.
This one gets 5 out of 5