24 April 2010

Clarky's Review: Thirst

As has previously been mentioned on this blog my opening 3 picks were my grand opus and I never seem to be able to live up to them. With this in mind towards the end of the first season I decided to return to my foreign horror roots.

Thirst was a film that I had heard a lot about. Directed by Chan-wook Park, who had first come into my world with the incredible Oldboy, the film had the neat idea of having the main character being a priest who becomes infected and turns into a vampire.

This was film was Park's labour of love and he had been working away at it for 10 years before finally getting to make this film. Unfortunately some areas of the film feel like they have been worked on for 10 years, whilst other aspects appear to have been an afterthought. There are a lot of interesting ideas here, but after watching it I got the feeling that this was a missed opportunity.

A number of the points appear laboured and overthought, whilst some neat little flourishes here and there seem to be introduced and then forgotten about. The third of the film is turgid and bloated, whilst the end is almost non-sensical if you stand back and really think about it.

By far the most interesting scenes were watching the priest slip into vampirism as his body transforms after the blood transfusion. His rapid recovery, and subsequent return to poor health if he doesn't continue to feed his desires, being one of the best ideas in the movie. Especially as everything comes to a head towards the end of the movie with the members of the monastery believing his recovery to be a miracle and worshipping him. In the end knowing what he has done he attempts to rape a girl in order that the "believers" no longer idolise him. This should have been the climax of the film with the priest coming full circle and sacrificing himself for the better of everyone else around him Unfortunately a number of scenes, and this scene in particular is tragically mishandled by the usually excellent Park and it is very muddled on screen.
There are also some lovely shots - such as the "x-ray" vision he possesses of the human body and veinous system, some creepy shots of the watery ghost of his former friend who haunts his imagination and some skin crawling, muscle tension inducing shots of the mothers fingernails as she tries to write a message in her paralysed state.

This is a film brimming with ideas and some excellent shots and writing about it here I feel quite enthusiastic about it. Unfortunately at the time of viewing I was left wanting as it does not add up to the sum of its parts and feels like a missed opportunity. The main problem is that it struggles to keep the viewer engaged in the middle portion and at times is just too damn weird. The sex scenes with the corpse between them is genuinely creepy and weird, but comes from nowhere and is such a shift tonally that it feels out of place when watching the film.

I would certainly go back and revisit this film, as I think a lot of the issues I had was that in the middle of the film it gets very muddled and its not always clear which character is doing what. Now I have a clearer idea of each characters through line I think it may well be more rewarding, however this doesn't excuse the film for not producing this on the first viewing.

A solid film which is worth a watch, but if you only see one vampire film make it Let the Right One In, which more expertly balances the vampire horror and love story angle than Thirst and is genuinely moving and thought provoking, staying with you for days, weeks even months after viewing.


  1. I did not like this film however it does have some interesting imagery.

  2. Frustrating film. I agree there are some really nice touches and ideas, but it was confusing and long winded. I started to get properly bored by about the halfway point. Not as bad as The Host but it's close to the bottom of films we've watched.


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