Thirst (2009)

It may seem odd to characterise a vampire film as being a bit bloodless, but that was the first thing that came to mind watching this; maybe it was the predominance of blue tones through the film that gives it that feeling of coldness. Interesting to compare the Korean and American trailers on the DVD; the former places much more emphasis on the affair between our hero—a Catholic priest who subjects himself to a medical experiment that somehow inadvertently transforms him into a vampire—and the wife of an erstwhile friend, while the latter is more about the vampiric transformation. The tension between these two narrative emphases, the torrid affair and the horror story, is one that Thirst never entirely resolves, though it offers some startling imagery along the way. Part of the problem is that our hero is a bit bland; as a priest he’s a nice bloke, he submits to this experiment out of a desire to help others, and it’s that desire which not only leaves him with something of an ethical quandary (how do you satisfy the need for blood when you don’t actually want to kill for it?) but reintroduces him to his old friend, who becomes just one client for what are considered his miraculous healing powers (alas that the film doesn’t really explore the small cult of followers he attracts after being the only surviving test subject from the experiment). But it’s the wife who ultimately becomes the more interesting character, welcoming the possibility of her own vampiric transformation; for her, monstrosity is a viable alternative to the life she’s found herself in. Thirst is a slow burner that is ultimately much too long at 133 minutes; not until the second hour does the real fun begin. When it does, though, the film does lift itself; it is ultimately satisfying, though it does take its sweet time getting to that point.

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