1 February 2010

Draining the blood of the recent fascination with Vampires

Thirst – Park Chan Wook

Director of Oldboy, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, Park Chan Wook, creates a new outstanding piece of cinema in the similar vein and style which he’s known. Making South Korean cinema internationally known is a difficult task, but his work has travelled around the globe and most people in the “film know”, would easily cite Oldboy as one of the best films of recent years. His new film, Thirst again shows this directors ability in bringing new and exciting structures to cinema. Using influences from Hollywood directors, mixing with his culture and creating pieces that stick with the viewer. Scenes of distress and hurt are crafted with beauty, exploring themes of the human tolerance of violence. With Thirst, a common theme in entertainment recently with Vampires becoming a part of the film, TV and book worlds, for some, this film would be cashing in on this phenomenon. But in fact, it’s a breath of fresh air. It brings to the vampire genre, a horror twist, one that asks the viewer the real questions of this “disease” or “disorder” of only surviving on blood and never being able to come out during the day. It changes lives. Most people see vampires as cool or sexy people, who are young and enjoying it. Not Thirst.

The film follows Sang-hyun (played brilliantly by Song Kang-ho, whom you might recognise from The Host, another film you must see), a priest who after recovering from a deadly virus, finds that after a blood transfusion, becomes a vampire and must steal blood to stop the virus appearing. He begins an affair with a girl from a local family, which in the end, ends up with him killing the girl’s husband. The film has twists and turns and physiologically, it’s a mind fuck. The scenes with blood and the different methods Sang-hyun uses to kill will shock people. But this film is categorised in horror first and foremost.

I highly recommend checking this film out, giving a first taste into South Korean cinema. It’s a strange movement of films that are appearing using elements of violence, sexual desire and making the audience feel uncomfortable. Thirst has several scenes of sex that seem to last a long time. Now I’m not against having this in films, but I find that sometimes it can be used for the wrong reasons. In Thirst, they use it to show the struggle between the main characters, in the lust for blood. And remember, don’t watch it with the parents; the uncomfortable levels will sky rocket into unfamiliar territories!


Simon Childs

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