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Thirst
UKScreen Rating:

Thirst – Review

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

An altruistic priest, Sang Hyeon (Kang ho), signs up for a medical experiment which brings him close to death.
But receiving someone else’s blood brings him back to life.
The notoriety this brings him makes sick people from miles around flock to him to be healed.
But the blood that saves him gives him an insatiable thirst for more. It’s turned him into a vampire.
When he’s thirsty, he has a system in place – he drinks from the drips of an overweight hospital patient, who probably won’t miss a pint or two, every now and then.
His altruism never eludes him, so despite his need for human blood, he can’t bear the thought of hurting anyone to get it.
But life grows more complicated when he takes pity on the wife of a former schoolfriend, whose mother treats her like a slave.
Soon – as he makes more of an effort to help her – a forbidden relationship develops between them – which results in her developing the same taste for blood as him.
But for her, the power that comes with her newfound immortality goes to her head.
A devastating conflict arises between the two vampires, who get caught up in a love-hate relationship that can’t possibly end well.

WHAT’S IT LIKE?

Vampires – or blood suckers of one kind of another – really are the supernatural fiend of the moment – what with the recent Let The Right One In, the current Vampire’s Assistant, the upcoming Jennifer’s Body and True Blood hitting our TV screens.
Combine vampire-lore with the style of Old Boy director Park Chan-Wook and you get pretty much what you’d expect – a tremendously wince-inducing film, with deeply examined characters on a moral journey.
An interesting observation in the film is the way that Sang Hyeon’s condition makes him reject religion, while it makes everyone else embrace it.
The idea of the honourable, unwilling vampire, cursed with a conscience helps to build up the dramatic conflict between the priest and the girl – who develops a more traditional approach to her affliction.
That said, the way she flips from being a timid, sympathetic and introverted victim to a shameless, blood-thirsty killer isn’t particularly convincing.
Perhaps a little vampire blood was all she needed to find the confidence to break out of her shell?!
The pace was necessarily slow at first – but towards the denouement, it really dragged.
Once it was clear where it was going – and its inevitable conclusion does become clear some way from the end – you just want to stop it wasting your time and either get there sooner – or surprise you.
It’s cool, moody and visually stylish – but long, slow and emotionally unsatisfying. It’s always hard to identify with a main character whose experiences are so far removed from our own – in these kind of films, we are normally asked to identify with the human rather than the monster, which adds an original touch, that backfires.

opens nationwide 16th October 2009

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