Because I’m sick of shit Vampires: Thirst
Well, I’ve had enough. I’ve tolerated shitty emo-vampires or ridiculous screechy vampires for far too long and my patience has finally snapped. I’m pig sick of vampires that sparkle like a magpie’s wet dream in sunlight, or vampires as an excuse for some drippy sub-Mills and Boon level romance drivel, or piss-poor lame cowardly fucking vampires. It’s reached the stage where if I even see the word “Vampire” on a film, then I’m automatically reaching for the off switch. There are exceptions and in the run up to “Twilight: First Period” I’m going to periodically pick them out and review them. I want proper blood-crazed, explode in daylight, stake them to kill them motherfuckers, I don’t want anything resembling a tween romance and prescription for wife-beating. So there will be no Twilight, no True Blood, no Moonlight, no Underworld, and so forth, these are all proper undead bastards, and will behave like proper undead bastards.
First up: Thirst. This 2009 film comes with a very, very impressive pedigree. It’s made by Chan-Wook Park who made some of the finest films of the last decade in the Vengeance Trilogy, and starts Kang-ho Song (previously excellent in The Good, the Bad and the Weird). It’s a modern take on the Vampire myth but a clever one, and it’s one that portrays vampirism as a curse, not an excuse for painful cunnilingus. Not that there isn’t a doomed romance in it, but it’s not about some drippy little twat that wants to fuck a corpse.
Thirst follows Father Hyeon. He’s a man riven by guilt, feeling that he can’t do enough for the sick patients in the hospital he works in. He begs his superior to allow him to partake in a shady African experiment, and during the course of this becomes infected with vampirism. Probably as a result of the virus, or perhaps tainted blood that he was transfused with. On his return to South Korea, he has become a minor celebrity, as the bandaged saint, the sole survivor of the experiment. Unfortunately for Hyeon, not only has he become afflicted with vampiric cravings, but the rest of his libido has woken up.
Enter Tae-ju, an unhappy wife living in servitude. Her life sucks( no pun intended) and she self harms, fantasises about murdering her husband and is generally an unhappy woman. She’s dominated by the alcoholic matriarch of the family, and her husband is a hypochondriac. She begins an affair with Hyeon, one thing leads to another and after murdering her husband, he infects her. The rest of the film descends into tragedy with a deeply depressing ending that you can see coming a mile away.
Thirst is a novel take on the vampire ethos, being as it is actually a film about Catholic guilt, amongst other things. Hyeon is riven by what he has to do to live, the guilt plays in his eyes and his expression is consistently set to mournful. Tae-ju, on the other hand, is a sociopath. She is eventually revealed as a manipulative witch before she becomes a vampire, and she discards her humanity only just faster than she discarded her underwear at the start of the film once she is turned. The contrast between the two characters is fascinating, and although Hyeon constantly wants to do the right thing, he is incapable of it: he’s more addicted to Tae-ju than to blood.
Thirst is a funny film to describe- it’s actually quite hard to put my finger on precisely what kind of film it is. On one hand, there’s the gruesome murders and generally vampiric behaviour, then there’s Hyeon flagellating himself to control his sex drive, but on the other hand there’s the absurd comic sequences with Hyeon and Tae-ju coming to terms with the murdered husband. At one point he literally appears between them while they’re having sex. Thirst is a strange hybrid of a film, but that doesn’t mean that it’s a bad film.
It is, however, a film that I don’t particularly like. It’s slow paced to begin with, but rushed in the last act. Needless to say, the early scenes are by far the more compelling sections of the film, Hyeon’s battle with his nature is far more interesting than his futile attempts to keep Tae-ju on a leash. The characters, again aside from Hyeon, aren’t particularly interesting or pleasant, with a few (blind priest leaping to mind) bordering on stereotyped. Tae-ju in particular is an intensely annoying witch, and my sympathy for Hyeon evaporated completely in the last third.
Nevertheless, Thirst isn’t a bad film either. It’s certainly not up there with the Vengeance trilogy, but it is a clever and interesting modern Vampire tale. It’s not the greatest vampire film ever made, but the first half of it in particular (aside from the ridiculously gratuitous sex scene that seems to last forever) is compelling, and the film as a whole is clearly well made.
Overall, would I recommend it? Grudgingly, yes. Park is always an interesting director, and this is an interesting film, but at the end of the day, I feel it’s more a film that I should like rather than one I will ever hold any genuine affection for. It’s not bad, but it ain’t great. I give it 2 Changs.
Until next time,
PS- the recommended link below is to a fucking Twilight fan site. I abhor Twilight and if I could get it off this review then I would. Instead, ignore the evil Mormon propaganda filth, but if you are interested in Shitlight, then click here for an academic dissection of it