Psychopaths and Super Powers Don’t Mix (Review of Thirst)

I will be the first to admit that when it comes to keeping up with foreign films, I’m terrible at it.  Every once in a while, though, a film will come to my attention, either by popularity within the horror community or because it’s a director I’ve seen and loved and I just have to see their new film.  Thirst falls into the later category.  Well…and sort of into the former – really, was I supposed to resist a Korean vampire flick about a priest?  Come on.

Oldboy: one of the greatest fight scenes ever...for reals

Anyway, for those who don’t know, Thirst was directed by Chan-wook Park, who also directed Oldboy, which is one of the cooler films I’d seen in quite some time.  Incredibly, painfully overwritten at the end, but the first two hours are fairly awesome.  If you’ll allow me a moment to digress: if you don’t mind gore (because there is a fair bit of graphic gore), it’s definitely worth a watch.  Not really horror – more of an action/thriller/mystery, but very well done until the end, which isn’t terrible, just overwritten to DEATH.  Anyway, given my adoration of Oldboy, it only seemed logical that I would seek to see a film in my genre of love by a writer/director I admire.  Unfortunately, the verdict? Meh.

As if Catholic priests didn't get enough criticism, now they have to deal with vampires in their ranks

Basic plot-wise, Thirst is awesome.  I am so happy that there are still people who understand, at least on some level, the roots of the vampire myth – it’s all about sex and sin, people! Not emoness and brooding.  The concept of having a Catholic priest infected with vampirism through a blood transfusion he gets while participating in a study to cure a deadly disease is AWESOME.  And, frankly, that aspect was handled very well.  Sang-hyeon’s struggle with his desire to live, his newfound blood and sexual lusts, as well as his feelings of remorse and guilt were very nicely handled by both the writer and the actor .

Loving embrace? I think not...

Much like Oldboy, the film was also very visually spectacular – another great example of how horror, even at its bloodiest, can be very beautiful as well.  Hats off to whoever decided that painting the entire apartment white and lining it with fluorescent lights would be deliciously incongruous and eerie,  because seriously, creep factor went up about tenfold when that happened.

But from there, things sort of go sour.  Not like super, “wow, this sucks” sour, but just…meh.  First, I would have liked to see some basic issues delved into more – there was no mention of holy water or crosses being a problem, as Sang-hyeon kept right on preaching for some time.  I would think that, for a priest, that whole needing to avoid crosses might be an issue.  I also would have probably appreciated a bit more thought being put into some of his character turns (like, if anyone has seen this, why he had to murder the old, blind priest?  I think I have some theories but that was sort of muddled to me).  I think also, given the nature of the lover/sire relationship which Sang-hyeon was to Tae-ju, the orphan with obvious abandonment and parent issues, the whole fucked up father/sire thing could have been played out a bit more…especially knowing that Park isn’t afraid of dealing with fucked up incest stories.

Actually, come to think of it, the whole Tae-ju going from fucked up woman with crappy family to sex bunny to wanting mom’s approval to psychopath was just a bit…unexplained.  In each of her shifts, it seemed to come out of no where.  While some shock value is good, it almost felt like her character was a bunch of different people thrown together.  I wasn’t sure if she was losing her mind, had always been nuts, or was affected by the vampirism to be that way?  While her character was very compelling at points, it was too all over the place to be truly interesting.  She just hopped around between too many personas a bit too much.

Then, the story just dragged.  Like SERIOUSLY dragged.  I’m somewhat ADD when it comes to movies.  I like to do things as I watch things – play a rubix cube, check email, play with my kitten – my hands don’t like being idle.  One way I can tell I’m really into a film is if I’m not tempted to check what time it is.  I wanted to freaking stare at a clock for half of Thirst.  It just went SO slowly and kind of all over the place.  It felt like maybe Park had too many ideas, didn’t know which one to follow, so he sort of just threw them all together.  Without many of them getting resolved, it just lead to a movie that could have been edited down by about 10 scenes, if not more.  By the time I got to the end, I was more than ready for it to do so, which is sad because the ending was really well done actually (I love horror scenes in dawn/daylight…I also love when vampires actually burn alive when the sun hits them…it’s the little things).  But, by that point, I kinda just wanted it to be over so I could get on with cooking dinner.

So, recommendation?  Meh…I mean, it does have some interesting elements to it.  The overall concept is sort of worth a watch as is the prettiness/artsiness of it.  But I kind of don’t want to recommend it because it is slow and it does drag and I don’t want you to spend 2.5 hours of your life and then go “eh”.  So, judge for yourself.  Or, perhaps better, go watch Oldboy and if you like it, especially visually, consider giving this one a gander.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: